A major new installation by artist and musician Linder Sterling called ‘Bower of Bliss’ will be unveiled as one of the highlights of a new sculpture exhibition called ‘Chatsworth Outdoors: Grounds for Sculpture’, opening in the garden of the Derbyshire estate on Friday 14 September.
Featuring many of the leading lights of the post-war sculpture such as Antony Gormley, Elisabeth Frink, Allen Jones, Angela Conner, Michael Craig-Martin, Nic Fiddian-Green and Barry Flanagan, ‘Chatsworth Outdoors’ will show more than 35 artworks, including sculptures rarely seen in public.
The exhibition will shine a spotlight on art and nature through the creation of ‘viewpoints’; points of interest chosen by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and intended to draw visitors into new corners of the world-famous, 105-acre garden. Each sculpture is positioned in response to the landscape; the garden being a sculpture itself having been shaped, built, planted and hewn from the Derbyshire countryside by legendary figures such as Joseph Paxton, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, and contemporary gardeners such as Dan Pearson.
Linder Sterling is creating a ‘Bower of Bliss’ in response to an existing bower at Chatsworth, known as Queen Mary’s Bower. Mary, Queen of Scots was held at Chatsworth during her imprisonment by Queen Elizabeth I. A romantic view is that the bower was a place where the confined Queen could exercise. Queen Mary’s Bower is now one of the few remaining hints of the Tudor estate at Chatsworth.
Taking the idea of the historic and solid bower, Linder has instead made a temporary space, decorated and defined by curving lines, symbolically linking it to a womb-like space of safety and nurture. Sensory and thought provoking, decorated with plants, texture, scent and colour, the bower is made of many elements coming together in a montage of objects and ideas which are tended as a garden.
A bower is a way of describing a garden that enfolds and secludes a place and can take many forms: leafy branches can enclose a glade, or a structure can define a space for gathering, for contemplation, performance or rest. Linder’s Bower rests lightly in the landscape here – a landscape otherwise shaped by huge movements of earth, plants, stone and water. The structure of Linder’s Bower is based on a device more familiar in Chinese and Japanese gardens, known as moon-gates. These circular structures are highly symbolic ways of entering a garden, or marking the movement from one space to another.
Linder has been artist-in-residence during 2017/18 and will be giving a talk about her work at Chatsworth during the ‘Art Out Loud’ festival (21-23 September), held in the garden. During her residency, Linder immersed herself in the life of the estate and as well as the ‘Bower of Bliss’ she will discuss ‘Her Grace Land’ (on display until 21 October), four installations in the house that explore the female voice at Chatsworth in the centenary year of the Act of Representation.
‘Art Out Loud’ is the only UK weekend festival of public talks about art, with speakers including the artists Idris Khan and 2017 Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid; historian Dan Cruikshank; and celebrated architects John Pawson, Amanda Levete and RIBA 2017 Stirling Prize winner Alex de Rijke.
After spending time at Chatsworth for this exhibition, Linder’s Bower will transport to other places and will be remade in other guises.