November 21, 2019

A View from Above of Artist Richard Woods’ One-Day Estate

Estate, by Richard Woods, was installed for just one day, October 13, on the ornamental lawn of Houghton Hall in the U.K. Photography courtesy of Norwich University of the arts Mariel Ferrer David Stafford.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…nearly 2-acre earthwork captured from a drone. And it was only up for one day, on the grounds of the Grade I-listed Houghton Hall in Norfolk, U.K. Called Estate, it was the folly of British artist Richard Woods, known for turning trompe l’oeil on its head. For this installation, 70 volunteers spent the morning pinning down 1 miles worth of black cotton fabric in the shape of a generic house. The purpose of the exercise for Woods was manifold: to create a work similar to such ancient hill figures as the Uffington Horse and Cerne Abbas Giant that can only be seen from above, a notion relevant today with inventions like Google Earth; address planned green-field mass development; and juxtapose two architectural styles, one that took hours to complete, the other many generations. “It also continued my ongoing interest in blurring the boundaries between art, design, and architecture,” Woods says. His current exhibition, at Albion Barn in Oxford, consists of paintings of doors and windows hung on gallery walls, creating a “place where those three disciplines get all mixed up,” he adds, “the place I like the most.”

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