'Eye am She' by Lorna Brown at Berrington Hall
In 2018 we were joined by Herefordshire artist Lorna J Brown as she told the story of Ann Bangham (first lady of Berrington) in an entirely new way through her contemporary artwork 'Eye am She'.
In 2018 the National Trust launched a year long programme of activity called ‘Women and Power’ to commemorate 100 years since most women received the right to vote. This was designed to offer places the chance to research and share sometimes forgotten stories of the women behind these special places. Here at Berrington we worked with Herefordshire based artist, Lorna J Brown, to interpret the story of Berrington's own strong women in a new way.
Lorna J Brown thoroughly researched Berrington’s history and created 'Eye am She' after being inspired by Ann Bangham, the first lady of Berrington. Brown drew inspiration from the life of Ann and the eighteenth century culture that surrounded women. She then combined this inspiration with another exhibition that you can still discover at Berrington, 'A Dress Fit for a King', which tells Ann's story for the first time through costume, including her original dress which was acquired at auction.
Brown drew on what we know of Ann and used elements of it to be incorporated into 'Eye am She'. Brown said: ‘It’s quite likely that Berrington would have been a time of reflection for Ann [I have] discussed that by creating a room of reflection’. Themes such as this were overlooked for some time, however by working with Brown we were able to share them in a new and creative way.
This mixed-media art installation offered a fresh perspective on how we as a society can reflect on the difference between our own culture, the lifestyle of Ann and all eighteenth century women.
‘Eye am She’ paid homage to the female space and experience. Centred around the life of Ann, it explored both a factual and hypothetical narrative of the life of this eighteenth century socialite and her experience of motherhood and womanhood.
'A Dress Fit for a King' and 'Eye am She' worked together to create a new outlook on the life of Ann Bangham, the life of gentry women and Georgian 'celebrity culture'.
There are other elements that Brown focused on, which incorporate Berrington’s ‘spirit of place’. The artwork comprised a tribute to the ‘Secret Language of Flowers’, introduced to Britain in 1717. The display included many different flowers, symbolic of motherhood and family.
Brown also paid homage to the Georgian 'Lover’s Eye/Eye Miniature'; in doing this she observed both the subject and the viewer in sympathetic allusion to the woman as watched.