New art installation lights up The Argory

Neon light installation - The Argory

The new art installation is located in the west hall and visitors will get to see the masterpiece when they enter the house on a guided tour.

The original acetylene gas lighting system was installed in The Argory in 1906. The system was cutting edge in its day and created a distinctive glow. Over the past two years, The Argory has been delivering a conversation project to remove over 100 years of dirt and tarnish from the unique collection of brass fittings. The final phase of the project involves the removal of the remarkable chandelier in the west hall for careful restoration and we took the opportunity to use this space in an entirely new and innovative way.

“Remarkable strides took place at The Argory in the development of modern lighting systems and we wanted to celebrate that innovation,” explains Emma Cunningham, general manager, National Trust Mid Ulster. ‘We believe this is the first time that a modern art installation has been added into the fabric of a historic house in the Trust’s care and we are very excited to showcase the results to our visitors, members and supporters.’

Specialising in the creation of neon light sculptures, Northern Irish artist, Kevin Killen was invited to create a bespoke art installation, placing contemporary design in the heart of this historic house. The result is inspired by the glow of the acetylene gas flame that lit The Argory, delivering an entirely modern take on this celebrated form of lighting.

“My work uses neon light to map peoples’ stories, histories and lives, explains Kevin. ‘While we do it in very different ways, the National Trust also preserves these things, so working with them has been a wonderful experience. Using the tour of the house as a starting point, I photo-documented a staff member traversing the tour route and translated that into a neon map. The piece embodies the owners, staff and visitors throughout the house’s history, while the spiral shape is inspired by the spiral patterns found in the house’s décor.’

Neon light installation at The Argory

The installation is now open to the public and will remain in place until November 2019. The artwork will be part of a wider programme to bring the story country house technology to life and will include a new trail, interpretation, events and even a new science room to explore throughout the 2019 season.