One of the country’s most spectacular estates, Weston Park, is set to host a year long programme of diverse events to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of England’s most admired landscaper, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716 – 1783).
From art exhibitions to bluebell walks, mansion tours to discovery workshops for the younger visitor, there’s something for everyone. Events take place in the elegant stately home itself or within its stunning 1,000 acre grounds, which itself is set against the striking backdrop of the rolling Shropshire countryside.
It was Sir Henry Bridgeman (1725 – 1800) whose vision brought Capability Brown’s genius to Weston where he went on to create magical vistas and tranquil hideaways that have helped make the 17th century estate a 21st century treasure. The enduring legacy if these visionaries will be rejoiced at Weston Park throughout 2016.
Part of the celebrations will include a series of exhibitions at Weston Park’s Granary Art Gallery. The outstanding programme, which has been brought together by Gareth Williams, Curator & Head of Learning to the Weston Park Foundation, includes a wide range of media that offers new work inspired by Capability Brown or exploring the antithesis of what he believed in, together with competition opportunities for all aspiring creatives and the work of the next generation of artists. The exhibitions will change on a monthly basis throughout the year.
In addition to exploring the house and gardens, the day visitor to Weston Park also has a wealth of attractions to amuse them including the art gallery, walled gardens, an adventure playground, miniature railway, beautiful gardens and the parkland itself to walk in, play in or picnic in.
Here’s a selection of highlight events at Weston Park commencing from March 2016 through to summer:
March sees the opening of the brand new Woodland Adventure Playground, situated on the edge of Brown’s pleasure ground Temple Wood. The playground will retain some of its original wooden features, but will have exciting new additions including all weather equipment such as new slides, trampolines and double zip wires. It will be open from Saturday 26 March and is included with entry to the park.
The house and park will be open from Friday 25 March until Sunday 10 April, giving visitors an opportunity to look around the 17th century mansion its art collections and historic rooms such as the library, drawing room and dining room.
Join Head Gardener Martin Gee for a guided walks on Sunday 17 April that will include a look at Brown’s planting schemes in Temple Wood. Temple Wood is one of two naturalistic paradises created at Weston Park, the other being Shrewsbury Walk; these really are the jewels in the crown, for there are very few other places across the country that you will be able to wander through such classic Brown representations.
Landscape artist Tim Scott Bolton has spent the last couple of years visiting a number of Capability Brown projects across the country to paint them in all their glory for a dedicated exhibition at the Granary Art Gallery (1 – 28 April). As a part of his work for the show, he has painted a number of works depicting Brown’s work at Weston Park, including the setting of the Temple of Diana, Temple Wood. The exhibition will also include works which feature the genius of Capability Brown in other parts of England, captured in Tim’s inimitable style which fuses the landscape of his subject matter with an almost ethereal light quality.
The carpets of sweeping bluebells that Weston is famous for, will be the focus of a spring walk on Sunday 8th May.The bluebells and the grounds will be in their picture perfect prime for this, one of Martin’s favourite times of the year.
Temple Wood, one of only five pleasure grounds created by Brown, opens to visitors on Tuesday 3rd May through to Thursday 26th May. This is the first time that Weston has opened up the wood outside of the main summer season for visitors to explore the avenues of rhododendrons and azaleas as they bloom into a riot of colour and scent.
Cartography – the art of creating maps – was enormously important to Capability Brown in his landscape designs. Simon Vernon takes a very different view of Brown’s work in his exhibition at the Granary Art Gallery (1 – 30 May), but one which would have been very much familiar to him as he went about proposing landscapes, capturing ideas and representing them in map form. As one of the world’s leading map-makers, Simon brings painstaking skills to bear in his work. Portraying both architectural detail and perspective, his works are a piece of history in themselves, truly recording the picture of Brown’s and others’ landscapes as they appear in the 21st century.
Weston Park is pleased to welcome a return show from Russell Gilder (1 – 29 June), who first exhibited in the Granary Art Gallery in 2010. Based in Devon, and an artist familiar to many from his memorable works in the Royal Academy’s Summer Shows, Russell brings a romantic and, at the same time, powerful approach to landscape painting – depicting details of wooden scenes on a large scale, with sensational light depictions.
Weston Park’s free summer Discovery Workshops will bring the Brown story at Weston to life for younger visitors, with craft activities and nature trails exploring the flora and fauna of the landscapes.
In the month during which the date of Capability Brown’s birth falls, the Sarasin & Partners National Fine Art Open competition will be held at the Granary Art Gallery. This year artists intending to enter the competition are asked to produce work celebrating Brown’s work or being the antithesis of his work, and also to consider the theme of landscape before, during and after his time. Thanks to the generosity of main sponsor, Sarasin & Partners the main overall prize will be £2,000.00, whilst a Shropshire/ Staffordshire prize of £500.00 and a People’s Prize – to be selected by visitors to the gallery during the exhibition – will also be on offer.
Each of Martin’s walks starts at 10:30am; adults £6, seniors £5, children £3. Further details can be found at www.weston-park.com/events/
For further information on Weston Park, its event programme and the opening times of the estate visit www.weston-park.com or to book call 01952 852100.