Unravelling The Vyne

Another short note, this time on a contemporary art exhibition at one of the National Trust place I work with.

I’ve mentioned the Vyne before (in one of my most popular posts). This time, the focus isn’t on Roman rings or Tolkien, but other aspects of the place’s history. Ten artist-makers working in a variety of media have interpreted parts of the Vyne story in especially created works, which are currently on display around the mansion and in its lovely Summer House.

My favorite is this work by Maria Rivens. In the library she has created a piece and literally pulls all sorts of stories out of books similar to the ones in the Vyne’s collection:

Short Cuts and Pop-Ups, by Maria Rivens
Short Cuts and Pop-Ups, by Maria Rivens

A very effective piece is Two Dancers by Charlie Whinney: steam-bent wood (Ash for the male, and Oak for the female) twist and sweep around each other in the Large Drawing room.


The enigmatic “Mrs Smith”‘s Party Birds doesn’t quite do it for me, though I like it’s anarchic intent. Most of the party birds are raving it up in the Summer House, but some have sneaked into the Saloon with an old wind-up phonograph, which visitors are invited to play heavy shellac records on. The selection is all bird-themed and I chose to play A Nightingale Sang in Barclay Square. I left that record on the turntable, and later when I was elsewhere, I heard it being played again. The sound of it drifting through the open doorways, was somehow more effective than when I was standing by the machine itself. There’s something there I don’t quite understand about music intentionally played and listened to, and that which (as the movies have it) is incidental. I need to ponder on that.

One last lovely piece really needs unpacking. If you go and see the show, do make sure you are there when one of volunteers is demonstrating it. Its a tiny automaton created by John Grayson, which draws an analogy between an incident at the Vyne and last year’s “Plebgate” hoo-har.

Gate Gate by John Grayson, a tiny automaton
Gate Gate by John Grayson, a tiny automaton

I recommend a visit to this show, which is included in the normal price of admission (free to National Trust members). Here’s a link to a video which explains a little more.

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