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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Stately Visiting

We joined the National Trust this year, with the intention of working our way through England's heritage, or at least, the bits that are within reasonable travelling distance. Last weekend, we went to visit this beautiful stately home, Oxburgh Hall, in the village of Oxenham, near Swaffam. I was struck by the beauty of this gate. All in all, I was surprised that I didn't take many photographs while I was there, and those that I did take are of walls and/or buildings. I hardly ever seem to take pictures of people. Robin doesn't much like his photograph taken, and I can rarely ever catch him unawares (dammit!).

Oxburgh has a lot of fine art, but its particular claim to fame, or one of them, is that it has a set of three hangings made by Mary, Queen of Scots together with Bess Hardwick, two of the finest embroiderers of the time. I admired them, of course, they are beautiful, and I know that they are full of interesting references to political and religious matters of the day, amongst other things. But I was struck by a sign outside that pointed to the 'Marian Hanging'. Despite the spelling, it did seem a little...well...threatening? It turned out that it was one of several pieces made by contemporary artists who have spent time at Oxburgh, and who have made art in response to it. I suspect it was almost inevitable that someone would make a piece for a bed, though it was presented as a coverlet, rather than a hanging. Personally, I preferred the work we saw as we arrived, beautiful work on a small scale with paper. And, of course, I did spend some time in the second hand bookshop...oops...!
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