UFO Spotted In Tatton Park’s Flight of Fancy

A crashed flying saucer, a bisected passenger plane and a VW camper van with wings are all part of this fun sculpture installation, showcasing the new and emerging, at the Tatton Park Biennial. 

The human urge to reach for the impossible and aeronautical innovation are the twin sources of inspiration behind Flights of Fancy, the Park’s third biennial of contemporary art. Biennial curators Danielle Arnaud and Jordan Kaplan of Parabola have invited artists and writers to respond to the themes in the context of the National Trust’s Tatton Park in Cheshire, using the Park, Gardens and Mansion to display their works. Jem Finer is creating a space flight simulation in a camper van; an ethereal inflatable head adorned with wings by Brass Art will appear to hover over the formal gardens and Olivier Grossetête’s magical, nonsensical bridge will be held aloft by helium balloons. This Biennial considers the human urge to fly, to accomplish the impossible in fragile times. Its artists are considering the impact of experimentation on delicate eco-systems, looking backward and forward for guidance, wisdom and/or humour. Their proposed results are experiments in time and space.

 The exhibiting artists and writers are: Charbel Ackermann, Brass Art, David Cotterrell, Tom Dale, Simon Faithfull, Tessa Farmer, Jem Finer, Leslie Forbes, Rebecca Geldard, Olivier Grossetête, Hilary Jack, Juneau Projects, Dinu Li, Aura Satz, Cherry Smyth, Sarah Woodfine and Open Competition winners Pointfive and Ultimate Holding Company.

Charbel Ackermann will reference the legacy of Maurice Egerton’s experiments with radio in his installation, which will be sited in the trees of the Arboretum, while closer to the ground there will be the intriguing sight of a crash-landed flying saucer by Dinu Li and Juneau Projects’ severed aeroplane fuselage, home to cargo-cult devotees.  David Cotterrell will be creating a visual depiction of data received from Jodrell Bank’s radio telescopes and Simon Faithfull will be showing a film made in Manchester Airport’s ‘Big Rig’, in which he stars as a commuter traveling in a burning jet.

Tatton Park has deep connections with early twentieth century flight: Maurice Egerton was a keen experimental aviator and friends with the Wright Brothers and, in World War II, allowed the use of Tatton as a training drop zone for over 60,000 troops.  Tom Dale will be investigating the relationships between military and social conquest with his ‘culture bomb’, a new work using a 1950s British Thunderbird rocket as its starting point.

In addition, the Biennial’s Contact Programme will offer families, special interest groups and local schools opportunities to experience and participate in ‘Flights of Fancy’ through a series of exhibitions, workshops and events, as well as a downloadable audio guide.

Curators Arnaud and Kaplan say, “2012 marks our third Biennial as curators at Tatton Park. Since the event’s inception in 2008, we have worked with the property, the National Trust and our partners to deliver an exceptional contemporary art project. ‘Flights of Fancy’ is the most ambitious edition to date, with over twenty artists and writers working to deliver large-scale installations outdoors, site-specific films and a large scale engagement project, ‘The Contact Programme’.  There will always be a tension between the nature of a listed site and the creation of new artworks that address its specifics. We welcome this tension and attempt to provide explanations and talking points for our audiences and participants.”

David Cotterrell has developed a planetarium, installed in the formal Gardens, where visitors will immerse themselves in a moving picture informed by data streams supplied by Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics. In Other Worlds, I love you takes us back millions of years in our universal history.

Tessa Farmer’s installation in the Mansion provides a glimpse into our planet’s orbital debris cloud and ponders on the fate of the many animals sent into space.  In Cosmic Cloud, Tessa’s skeleton fairies, inhabiting ingenious space pods, have taken over some of these debris to create a fleet of curious spaceships intending to colonise space.

Sarah Woodfine’s intricate pencil drawings on alchemy-like vessels are placed in the Library; the selected ingredients contained in these recipients invite the viewer to select and contemplate the possibility of flights, transmutation or journeys out of the body.Recipe for a kiss of shame rekindles the original synergy between alchemy and botany, within the context of Tatton Park’s collection of books and plants.

Tatton Park Biennial is a Core Event in the National Trust’s Trust New Art, a programme that supports the installation of contemporary art at National Trust properties. The Mansion House, Gardens and Park Tatton Park Knutsford  Cheshire WA16 6QN  The Biennial runs until September 30th.

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