New exhibition opens at Mount Stuart

Artist Steven Claydon (left) with one of his pieces in the house's Marble Chapel.
Artist Steven Claydon (left) with one of his pieces in the house's Marble Chapel.

Last weekend saw the debut of an art exhibition at the estate of Bute’s own stately home, Mount Stuart.

The exhibition by Hepworth Prize nominee Steven Claydon opened in the grounds and house at Mount Stuart on Saturday, June 3, and is made up of pieces specific to the site.

The installation of another piece in the gardens of Mount Stuart.

The installation of another piece in the gardens of Mount Stuart.

The Archipelago of Contented Peoples: Introduced Species is a companion exhibition to another of Claydon’s, which is on display at the Common Guild in Glasgow.

The Mount Stuart exhibition includes new installations in the main house’s Marble Hall, the Marble Chapel, the Crypt and the Purple Library, as well as outdoor pieces in the ‘Wee Garden’ and at the Beehive Well.

And Claydon has donated one of the pieces, a silver-clad votive that was used by the last heir to the Hawaiian throne, to remain in the Purple Library.

The last heir, Princess Ka’iulani, had a Scottish father in Archibald Cleghorn, and Claydon drew on this historical coincidence to inform part of the exhibition.

One of the installations in the house's Marble Chapel.

One of the installations in the house's Marble Chapel.

A statement from the Mount Stuart Trust said: “Responding to the house and its distinctive collections that tell so many extraordinary stories, Claydon will examine the concept of the heirloom.

“He will bring objects and ideas from external contexts into an environment that is already laden with references to other places and time - multiple accretions which have become familiar and integral to the setting over the passage of time.

“Through a dual process of re-making and re-presenting altered artefacts, Claydon sparks the question of how far these objects belong in a given setting, and how far their ‘otherness’ is accommodated.”

The exhibition at Mount Stuart includes towering slit gong drums installed in the Marble Hall and a collection of decorated barrels in the Crypt, and will remain open until October 29.

The Mount Stuart Trust’s visual art programme coordinator Morven Gregor told the Buteman: “The opening on Saturday was lovely, it went very well overall.

“There were about 100 people touring the collection but it felt like a lot more.

“There was a good mix of regular members and friends of Mount Stuart, local folk who were interested as well as people who had travelled maybe from Glasgow or further afield.

“There were even a few folk who had come up from London and Cornwall!

“I think they would have been quite impressed by the exhibition.

“I personally love having contemporary art collections here as it is art that’s still living in a way.

“One of the themes of the exhibition is that of objects that are significant for different reasons, maybe religious or trade reasons for example, being taken from their place of origin and being rehomed somewhere completely different.

In a release Steven Claydon explained why the house and grounds of Mount Stuart were so evocative to him: “The wealth of material in the Mount Stuart archives, gardens and buildings forms a considerable arsenal of subject matter that is firmly rooted in Scottish history and politics, religious identity and eclectic architectural vernacular.

“For me it is the sum accumulation of these often-contradictory details that lends Mount Stuart its potency.”

Steven Claydon hails from London, where he still lives, and studied at Chelsea School of Art & Design and Central Saint Martins in London.

In 2016 he was nominated for the first Hepworth Prize for Sculpture.