The Word Defiant! New immersive art experience at Blickling Estate

A book eaten by death watch beetle
Published : 24 Jan 2018 Last update : 27 Mar 2018

Award-winning theatre company Les Enfants Terribles have been commissioned by the National Trust to create a new immersive art installation, that will be unveiled in May and is all set to shine a light on Blickling’s library and the importance of books.

Blickling’s library contains one of the most impressive country house libraries in the care of the National Trust and is one of the most significant in England, with over 12,500 volumes. It is currently undergoing a comprehensive five year conservation programme to ensure its survival, after being plagued by damp and death watch beetle for some years.

The Word Defiant! will be an immersive theatrical experience using sound and theatrical design to enable visitors to explore the importance of books, the threat posed to them around the globe and their shifting role and continued relevance in a changing world.

An illustration of The Word Defiant, an installation in the Long Gallery
An illustration of books in the Long Gallery spilling out across the floor
An illustration of The Word Defiant, an installation in the Long Gallery

A series of installations around the house and out in the garden Temple will tell the story of books that once held significance but now find themselves superseded by modern technology, those that have been banned, neglected or have become symbolic.

" We’re really excited to be working with Les Enfants Terribles. We wanted to offer our visitors a creative new way for reflecting on the importance of books and highlight Blickling’s collection that’s in need of our care. The temporary experience will be designed to be noticed, create debate and prompt important questions. It certainly makes you question what the world would be like without books!"
- Jo Bosch - Visitor Experience Manager, Blickling Estate

Les Enfants Terribles have won multiple awards and are internationally acclaimed for their ground-breaking immersive work, including Olivier Award nominated Alice’s Adventures Underground, Inside Pussy Riot and dining experience Dinner At The Twits; award winning, international stage shows such as The Trench, The Terrible Infants and The Vaudevillians; innovative outdoor touring work such as The Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie and large scale public events for the likes of Save the Children, the British Library and the V&A.

" We're delighted to be working with Blickling Estate to create these visceral immersive installation pieces which connect Blickling’s renowned library to the stories of book collections and individual volumes around the world. Telling a story is at the heart of everything we do as a company and we are excited to be given the opportunity to tell these relevant and contemporary stories through design in such a historic and significant space."
- Oliver Lansley - Artistic Director, Les Enfants Terribles

This project has been made possible by the support of Arts Council England, through Trust New Art, a contemporary arts programme inspired by National Trust places. Find out more about Trust New Art exhibitions 

The Word Defiant! will be unveiled on 1 May, and will be open daily from 12-5pm until 28 October 2018. Come and see for yourself how this story is brought to life.

A piece of art by Chris Ruston

The Curious World of Artists' Books | 30 April - 27 May 

As part of our celebration of books this year, and in line with our contemporary art installation The Word Defiant!, we're delighted to be hosting an exhibition in The Loft Gallery of hand crafted traditional and contemporary book art by some of the UK's finest makers and practitioners. From altered and sculptural books to pop-ups, concertinas and fine bindings, artists explore the possibilities of the book form in all of its guises.