Even after copious amounts of research and months of scrolling through google images, nothing could quite compare to waking up at the residence and seeing the grounds at first light.
Having grown up in the countryside of Derbyshire, I am no stranger to woodland walks and stately homes but Dumfries House encompasses a beauty that neither photographs or google street view can describe.
The neoclassical architecture of Robert Adam echoed many of the Palladian and rococo designs of Kedleston Hall, but being the first of its kind, Dumfries House has come to be known as a Scottish hidden treasure or 'sleeping beauty', which has been both restored and renovated into one of Scotland’s most engaging heritage sites and Britain's most stunning 18th Century Home.
All thanks to HRH The Prince of Wales! (Who happened to visit for his annual Christmas party - I forgive you for the misplaced invite...)
With his charitable help, donations and passions to revive this incredible estate, he awoke its charm into a dynamic, creative and historic public attraction.
Lots of super architectural info in this article by Architectural Digest... HERE!
Opened by Prince Charles himself, the Laundry House now hosts four active, productive work spaces for artists taking residence with The Royal School of Drawing.
The studios are more than generous in size, warm, cosy, kitted out with the most lavish kitchen pottery, a large working bench, designer armchairs, easels and even a large daylight photography lamp!
Undeniably, there is an overwhelming sense of nature. The 200 acres of woodland scopes for miles around the estate, giving a sort of desired feel of isolation, a place to exhale and de-stress from the routines of everyday life.
I almost felt I was on a detox retreat from my MA! As funny as it may seem, it was. It gave me time away from everyday life to re-address where I had come to with my practice, and also a place so far from the busy city lifestyle of Birmingham.
Of course, Birmingham still made it here...
I had started to work with more natural materials towards the end of my Masters, and the juxtapositions between organic and artificial aesthetics.
I had also started recognising the repetitive processes within my practice, re-cycling and re-purposing ideas and materials.
I started thinking about the regeneration of Dumfries House itself, and kept being drawn to its architecture rather than this abundance of nature.
I found a really interesting interview from Architect Richard Horden a few months back, speaking about the relationship of Nature and Architecture...
"Less material, more nature"
He stresses the importance of Nature, and that architecture should source it's inspiration from nature, as it "controls us, not the other way round".
I want to challenge these ideas in terms of my sculptural works and investigate the importance of nature, its collaboration with architecture and the restoration and preservation of the stately home. Dealing with subjects of light, surface and space, I want to playfully explore the concepts and processes of repurposing materials and up-cycling found objects to form interventions and architectural intrusions in the abundance of the Scottish woodlands.