American artist to hold major exhibition at Houghton Hall

PUBLISHED: 18:14 02 January 2015 | UPDATED: 18:15 02 January 2015

The west façade at Houghton Hall.

The west façade at Houghton Hall.


One of Norfolk’s great halls is to take a starring role in a major new art show planned for later this year.

Following on from the immense success of the 2013 Houghton Revisited exhibition, Houghton Hall’s latest ambitious project is to present a collection of work by acclaimed American artist James Turrell, from June 7 to October 24.

Mr Turrell has spent more than half a century exploring light and space to create art, and the spectacular climax to the new exhibition – called LightScape: James Turrell at Houghton – will see the artist create a site-specific light work which will illuminate the entire west façade of the historic hall from dusk.

Two works by Mr Turrell are already on display in the grounds at Houghton and these will also be key features of LightScape.

Seldom Seen, 2004, from the artist’s Skyspace series, is a wooden viewing chamber rising into the canopy of surrounding trees and it provides a captivating window to the sky, while St Elmo’s Breath, 1992, part of Mr Turrell’s Space Division series, is housed in an 18th century water tower in the park.

Other work to be brought to Houghton for the exhibition will include light projections from the 1960s, holograms and a work from Mr Turrell’s Tall Glass series.

The Marquess of Cholmondeley, who owns Houghton Hall, said the exhibition would be the fulfilment of “a long-held dream.”

He said: “Nearly 15 years after the installation of James Turrell’s meditative Skyspace at Houghton, I look forward to staging an exhibition devoted entirely to his work.

“It will be the fulfilment of a long-held dream. I am extremely grateful to the artist for his active participation, and especially for creating an exciting new light piece for the front of the house.”

Mr Turrell has been experimenting with light and space in his artwork since the 1960s and his works aim to engage people with the limits and wonder of human perception.

His most ambitious artistic endeavour is his Roden Crater Project in Arizona which saw him transform the extinct volcano into a large-scale work of art and create a series of chambers, pathways, tunnels, and openings onto the sky from within and around the crater’s surface.

At the start of his career, his early series of projection pieces fooled the eye into seeing solid geometrical objects using only a single light source.

Later, his Ganzfeld chambers immersed whole spaces in pure colour, and in the 1970s he began a series of Skyspaces that enclosed artificially lit spaces open to the sky through a roof aperture.

In his more recent Tall Glass series, rectangular tablets pass through a programme of changing colour and intensity.

Mr Turrell, who has received numerous art awards, has shown his work at museums including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Guggenheim New York.

LightScape: James Turrell at Houghton, will run from June 7 to October 24 this year. More information about the exhibition will be online soon at

Are you organising a major art event? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at


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