Anish Kapoor exhibition: ‘It’s one of the greatest shows he has done, and it’s here in Norfolk’
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Acclaimed sculptor Anish Kapoor brings his largest ever UK outdoor show to Houghton Hall - plus see two works for free at Norwich’s Sainsbury Centre
Anish Kapoor unleashes granite, marble and stainless steel from gravity and makes it appear to float and flow.
His sculptures, set in the grounds and hall of Houghton Hall, draw down the sky so that clouds float at your feet or the heavens are held, reflected and re-shown, in a huge disc. Heavy blocks of stone swirl and swell as if they too might bubble up and away across this lovely part of Norfolk.
Britain’s biggest ever outdoor exhibition of Kapoor’s work at Houghton Hall, between King’s Lynn and Fakenham, will run until November 1.
The exhibits include world-famous works such as Sky Mirror, which reflects and transforms the space around it, turning the world upside down. Elsewhere Kapoor’s dazzling alchemy blurs the boundaries between material, shape and space, and pigment pictures turn two dimensions into three.
The 21 large sculptures, plus a selection of drawings and smaller works, come from throughout his 40-year career.
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The exhibition was designed to challenge as well as complement the classical architecture of the house, the bucolic beauty of the grounds and history of Houghton itself.
Lord Cholmondeley, owner of Houghton, said: “Anish Kapoor is a magician. His elegant reflective pieces throw back the world in mysterious ways. We are proud to have the opportunity to present an important group of Anish Kapoor’s work at Houghton, and are delighted to be able to welcome visitors once again.”
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The exhibition was due to open in March and the sculptures arrived in early spring to be eased into position with pulleys and cranes. When lockdown arrived, they too were locked down. Of all the places in the world to spend the strange spring and early summer it must have been one of the most perfect, but Lord Cholmondeley said it had been frustrating too, as he was so eager for people to see the astonishingly powerful display.
“What a great show it is. It’s one of the greatest shows he has done, and it’s here in Norfolk,” he said.
Not even neigbouring royals, and close friends of the family, Prince William and Kate and children, who spent lockdown at nearby Anmer Hall, have visited yet.
The exhibition has been extended to run until November 1 and, just ahead of the opening on Sunday, Anish Kapoor saw the sculptures in situ for the first time. As he walked around the grounds of Houghton he reached out to caress the curved and polished marble of his creations. “The last time I saw that it was in Istanbul,” he says, feeling a sharp stone edge softening and disappearing into the interior of a curve in the sculpture Sophia, named for his wife.
It’s not the first time he has been to Houghton though. “I’ve been coming here for around 25 years, to visit David. He’s always been engaged with contemporary art,” said Anish. And he called Houghton’s Stone Hall (in which busts of classical gods have been temporarily replaced by his new iridescent curved mirrors) ‘one of the great spaces of the world.’
But Anish had not thought about an exhibition here until it was suggested by curator Mario Codognato, of Binham, near Holt.
Outside, on an overcast day, wisps of cloud seem to seep from the grass as we approach a massive oblong of polished black granite. This is Untitled, 2018, which reflects the sky at its base, the black stone appearing to flex and float above it. Apparently it’s even more magical in the sun. It is exhibition curator Mario Codognato’s favourite of all the sculptures in the show. He suggested the exhibition after curating Damien Hirst’s hugely popular 2018 show at Houghton, saying: “I thought Anish’s work would look amazing here.”
Measures to keep visitors safe include pre-booked tickets, with just 350 people allowed each day, and strictly limited numbers in the inside sections. But most of the exhibition is outside in the open air.
Anish Kapoor at Houghton Hall, until November 1, Wednesday-Sunday, plus Bank Holiday Monday. Prebooked tickets only, £16, students £10, under 18s free. www.houghtonhall.com
ANISH KAPOOR AT THE SAINSBURY CENTRE, NORWICH
As the major Anish Kapoor exhibition at Houghton Hall attracts international acclaim and thousands of visitors, two more Kapoor sculptures have gone on show in Norfolk. Anish Kapoor has lent two alabaster stone sculptures to Norwich’s Sainsbury Centre. Involute, 2017 and Untitled, 2010 will be on show at the Sainsbury Centre, in conjunction with the Houghton Hall exhibition and supported by the Houghton Arts Foundation. They demonstrate Kapoor’s long-standing fascination with absence and presence, carving and moulding materials so that the solid shapes enclose, flow into, reflect or become holes or spaces. They particularly resonate with works, ranging from ancient Egyptian to modernist, in the Sainsbury Centre Collection. Calvin Winner, head of collections at the Sainsbury Centre, said: “Kapoor is a world-renowned sculptor and it is a great privilege to present his work at the Sainsbury Centre for the first time. We hope visitors will enjoy seeing these sculptures alongside the accompanying exhibition at Houghton Hall.”
The works are free to view in the Sainsbury Centre’s East End gallery until November 1. sainsburycentre.ac.uk
Anish Kapoor is one of the most influential sculptors working today, known for ambitious and adventurous public sculptures including the ArcelorMittal Orbit which rises rusty red above London’s Olympic Park, and the vast Cloud Gate in Chicago.
He won the Turner Prize in 1991 and was knighted for services to the arts in 2013. In the last few years his work has starred in solo exhibitions around the world.
Throughout his career he has explored and stretched boundaries between materials, shapes and spaces, and the results are on display at the Houghton.
Houghton Hall was built for Sir Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister of Great Britain, in the 1720s and Anish Kapoor is the latest in an impressive line-up of celebrated contemporary artists invited to stage exhibitions here including James Turrell, Richard Long and Damien Hirst. Visitors will also be able to enjoy Houghton’s renowned permanent collection of sculpture and installations in the gardens.