The Makers exhibition at Felbrigg

Alec Stevens at work

Intriguing tales from the past were revealed through contemporary art in an exhibition at Felbrigg Hall in 2017.

The exhibition

Contemporary artworks by a sculptor, a woodcarver and a film maker brought to life some of the intriguing stories of Felbrigg Hall in a new exhibition.  

As part of the National Trust’s Trust New Art Programme, and in partnership with the Norfolk Contemporary Art Society (NCAS), 250 artists applied for the opportunity to undertake a residency that would give them special behind the scenes access to the house and its archives to create new perspectives on its history through contemporary art.

In the past, the families who lived at Felbrigg had a tradition of commissioning new work from artists and craftspeople. The artworks created for 'The Makers' exhibition, continued this tradition. 

" The artworks created for 'The Makers' exhibition, which will be displayed throughout the house... gives visitors the chance to see Felbrigg in a new light. Each artist has produced something very different."
- Eleanor Akinlade, General Manager at Felbrigg Hall

The artists

Florence Kennard, Alec Stevens and Alida Sayer were the artists chosen for their creative ideas and experience. After months of immersing themselves in the stories of Felbrigg, their work was on show from April 22 until 29 October 2017.

Florence Kennard

Florence is a film maker who became intrigued by the passing of time and with the rhythms of the house.

With access to the difficult-to-reach clock tower as well as other clocks in the house, Florence focussed on their workings, sounds and mechanisms. She was also inspired by the process of preparing the house each winter for its spring opening and has entitled her film, The House Awakening..

Florence Kennard
Florence Kennard and the Makers
Florence Kennard

Alec Stevens

Alec is a skilled wood carver, with an interest in exploring the more quirky elements of an historical story. Alec’s installation features hand-carved fireworks with witty names that were inspired by the life and passion of William Windham II, a keen firework maker.

It was the unintentional detonation of fireworks stored in Windham’s firework-making shop at the property that destroyed part of Felbrigg’s servant’s wing in 1755. 

Artist Alec Stevens was inspired by the stories of Felbrigg
Alec Stevens preparing for the Makers exhibition
Artist Alec Stevens was inspired by the stories of Felbrigg

Alida Sayer

Sculptor Alida immersed herself in Felbrigg’s library and archives and as a result her work has a sense of the poetry and multi-layered stories that she discovered during her research.

The title of her work, the Balcony Hotel, refers to the Ketton sisters who moved to Felbrigg in 1863 and spent much of their time in the attic rooms. The green colour of one of her sculptures refers to the arsenic which was an ingredient in wallpaper at the time which may have led to the early death of two of the sisters. 

This project has been curated by Dr Caroline Fisher, a trustee of NCAS and Curator of East Gallery, Norwich University of the Arts. 

" The resulting work brings to light often overlooked elements of the property that are intriguing, poetic and engaging."
- Dr Caroline Fisher

The project was made possible with the additional support from Arts Council England, East Anglia Art Fund, Norfolk County Council and Norwich University of the Arts.