Exhibitions and artists at Mottisfont

Visitors enjoying an art exhibition at Mottisfont, Hampshire

Mottisfont became the centre of a creative circle in the early 20th century thanks to last owner Maud Russell. We continue those traditions today with up to five major exhibitions a year in a spacious art gallery. We also support artists in residence to create site-specific installations here.

All our exhibitions are included within normal property admission, free to National Trust and Art Fund members.

Please note that the gallery is currently closed while we set up for our next exhibition, opening on 18 January.

Next exhibition

A cartoon illustration by Bill Stott

Comedy and Commentary 

18 January - 19 April: discover witty works from some of Britain's best cartoonists, in a new art exhibition that explores the distinguished history of British cartooning.

Access to the art gallery, where we hold our changing exhibitions, is via a wooden staircase. There is no lift. iPads showing photographs of the current exhibition are available for visitors unable to access the second floor.

An artistic past

Maud Russell made Mottisfont into a vibrant hub of artistic activity from the 1930s onwards. She supported and commissioned work. She invited many Modern British artists, critics and designers for long weekends of croquet and creative conversation here.

Artist and collector Derek Hill was a frequent visitor. He honoured his long friendship with the Russells by leaving a substantial collection of 20th-century art to us, on display throughout the house.

An oil painting of Lake Como by the artist Derek Hill

The Derek Hill Collection 

We're home to a collection of 20th-century art, including works by L.S. Lowry, Barbara Hepworth and Graham Sutherland. They were gifted to us by the artist Derek Hill, in memory of a long friendship with last owner Maud Russell. You can see many of these works in the Morning Room. There are also smaller, focused displays in the West Corridor.

Artist residencies

Hywel Davies 

A composer, sound artist and installation artist. His wide-ranging output includes the sound installation Test Polyphony which was installed in the Cellarium at Mottisfont from June 2013 to April 2014.

Current project: Pilgrim
On show 11 January - 31 August

Mottisfont is a location long associated with pilgrimage, and Hywel’s new sound work taps into the experience of the pilgrim in its widest sense - be it as an outsider, observer or wanderer. As part of the preparation for Pilgrim Hywel made two visits to Izumo in north-west Japan site of the largest Shinto shrine in Japan, also a place of pilgrimage.

Pilgrim reflects on this and other journeys Hywel has made. The principal element of the work is written for Japanese virtuoso percussionist Kuniko Kato and Englsh bass-baritone Laurence Williams. This part of the piece will run on a loop broadcast from speakers embedded in four hemlock tree trunks sited within the Beech Circle. For the second element of Pilgrim Hywel undertook a series of interviews with visitors, volunteers and staff on their experience of ‘journeys’. These intimate recordings will be installed in the Top Lodge near the walled garden.

Anna Heinrich and Leon Palmer 

Anna Heinrich and Leon Palmer work in collaboration and together have a broad, cross disciplinary practice which encompasses installations, large scale projection events, films and photography. Their photo-montage wall piece Capricco can be seen in our Welcome Centre.

Current project: Casting Light
On show 11 January - 8 November

Anna and Leon are exploring the architectural history of Mottisfont with its many layers and modifications to create an installation specifically for the Red Room. They will use the architectural features of the room as the basis to develop an immersive installation which will take an imaginative journey through the architectural layers of Mottisfont using a combination of lighting, 3D laser scanning technology, video projection and sound. 

Anna Heinrich and Leon Palmer will be using laser scanning techniques to explore Mottisfont's architectural layers
A lidar scan of Mottisfont's interior
Anna Heinrich and Leon Palmer will be using laser scanning techniques to explore Mottisfont's architectural layers

You can keep up to date with the project on their blog.

Simon Ryder 

Simon Ryder describes his practice as that of an ‘investigative artist’, the journey of discovery for each new project being an integral part of the final work. This often includes the use of enhanced ways of seeing, such as infrared imaging, CT scanning, sound visualisation and data-driven animation.

Initially trained as a zoologist (BSc Zoology, Bristol University) prior to studying art (MA Fine Art, Royal College of Art), his work flows between art and science, fact and fiction, always with the aim of revealing new perspectives relevant to our times.

Current project: Surface Tensions
On show 24 April - 1 November

Simon will undertake a period of research on the River Test at Mottisfont with a particular emphasis on the history and significance of Mottisfont in the development of fly-fishing.

Simon will be working closely with Mottisfont’s river keeper to represent and reimagine the river’s narrative – past, present and future – to create a new multi-media piece for installation in the Cellarium, along with new visitor interpretation on the history of fly-fishing for the fishing hut in the grounds.

Simon is currently researching on the River Test as part of his artist residency
A collage of photographs and artwork by Simon Ryder
Simon is currently researching on the River Test as part of his artist residency

You can follow the progress of Simon’s residency via his blog on Instagram @surface.tensions.

The river is an important element of Mottisfont's visitor experience and economy but the history and the care and time that goes into maintaining and managing it is probably not known to many of our visitors.

The installation in the Cellarium at Mottisfont offer a new perspective on the story of Mottisfont’s relationship with the river, its management and ecology.

Planned date for installation: spring/summer 2020.