February 2020

Beningbrough Hall

Often when visiting a new place, I take time to experience the architecture through the senses, immersing myself in the feel of the space. As well as looking, I close my eyes, breathe in and smell the air, listen to the aural architecture, feel the atmosphere on my skin, and touch surfaces to feel traces of human use. I take notice of my observations and responses, store them in my memory to retrieve later when working.

The Hall is currently closed to visitors and undergoing some refurbishment. As my time on site is limited, rather than make drawings, I have chosen to take photographs to provide material to work with, so I can start working with these digitally. I find using a viewfinder helpful as a way to explore and gather information about a building, as it enables me to focus on specific points of interest. At this stage, I have limited my research to the main entrance hall and the first floor corridor as the Baroque plasterwork here is stunning. As I work in the space, I anticipate moments when the architecture might reveal itself to me. I am not surprised to notice the results of my work reflect my interest in light, shadow and repetitive, decorative motif.

Back in my studio, I have started to make video ‘sketches’ that focus on interesting architectural moments where I am experimenting with drawing out abstract forms and decorative motifs. This is a helpful way to become familiar with a building and test ideas. As well as focusing on the stunning architectural features, I am interested in uncovering and revealing any hidden or overlooked features, particularly the shifting light and shadow as I have a long held fascination with architectural light and shadow.

For me, buildings breathe, they expand and contract in two ways: firstly, in response to their context, the rhythms of their inhabitants, as well as the natural rhythms of light, seasons, passages of time; and secondly, in response to what is asked of them, their purpose. Buildings hold within them the human everyday but also the in-between, the rhythm of daily life that passes between us, the inhabitants and the building (including echoes of past). We are drawn into conversation, invited to glimpse these rhythms, when we experience and relish unexpected moments of light and shadow.