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Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience - Exhibition at Gibside - Photographic documentation of Fiona Curran 's Art Installation 'Your Sweet Empire is to Please'

posted on 2021-01-14, 15:58 authored by Fiona Curran, Andrew Burton, Venda Pollock, Andrew Newman, Judith King, Rebecca FarleyRebecca Farley, Niki Black, Nick Cass

This folder includes images from MCAHE project depicting Fiona Curran's Art installation Your Sweetest Empire is to Please at The National Trust, Gibside.

Please read in conjunction with the Project Overview Metadata

Images of the installations at Gibside have to be credited to the artist Fiona Curran, and the respective photographer: Colin Davidson (Please see file name)

Fiona Curran’s work for Gibside takes its title from a poem by Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743-1825), which is quoted by Mary Wollstonecraft as an example
 of women being depicted as delicate or exotic flowers, ‘born for pleasure and delight alone’. The work focuses on Mary Eleanor’s s passion for botany and collecting plants – an occupation that was all the rage in Georgian England. Specimens were transported from across the world to the Orangery at Gibside in Wardian Cases, containers that sheltered them from salt water and exposed them to light. Curran scaled up the Wardian Case to become a striking contemporary architectural feature celebrating Mary Eleanor’s life – and the lives of all women whose aspirations have been stifled by society or abusive relationships. Exuberant tropical flowers burst from within the Wardian Case, which is positioned by the Gibside Orangery. Now a ruin, the Orangery became a poignant symbol of the state of the Stoney-Bowes marriage. For Mary Eleanor it was a place to nurture her beloved plants and seedlings; for Stoney, it was the focus of violent diatribes against ‘damned weeds’.


Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience: Creation, Consumption and Exchange

Arts and Humanities Research Council

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  • Art and Design