Castles used to be seen in a certain light, but now give off a sense of defensiveness and financial disparity. The owners of these magnificent structures, however, are looking to gain relevancy once again as they have discovered that a castle, with its outrageous grandeur and extreme architecture, is a provocative frame for the gestures and inclinations of modern and contemporary art.
Mollie Dent Brocklehurst, owner of Sudeley Castle, embarked on a series of installations of new art on its ample grounds while she was working at Gagosian Gallery in London and looking to bring the energy of the art to a certain landscape. Placing new works on the grounds grew into commissions made exclusively for the site, a development that thrills Brocklehurst as she says it has brought an entirely new audience to this sort of art.
A similar vision has started to transform the landscape at Lismore Castle in Ireland. Works on the outside grounds include pieces from Franz West and Richard Long. Inside the castle, a ruined wing was remodeled and hung with works chosen by internationally distinguished critics and curators.
William Burlington, son of the current Duke of Devonshire and owner of Lismore Castle, says to Vogue “The galleries are quite a surprise for a lot of people who come across them unexpectedly when wandering through the garden- we wanted the entrance to be subtle, almost hidden- and it’s good to see the kind of cross-fertilization that they bring. The garden people find themselves looking at modern art they never expected to see, while the art crowd find themselves staring in amazement at some huge, ancient magnolia tree in flower.”