artist / participant
During an initial research visit to Mount Stuart artists Langlands and Bell came across the tiny and exquisitely detailed family chapel dedicated to St John the Evangelist and designed in 1873 by the renowned architect William Burges. The chapel mixes Gothic and Byzantine architectural styles in a space that is no more than 5x7 metres in size. Partly inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, its walls and altar are richly decorated with allegorical friezes of male and female saints, and references to the Holy Land. The structure is discretely, almost secretly located in one of two remaining sections of the old house, which survived the fire of 1877, and has previously remained inaccessible to visitors. Langlands and Bell’s intention is to ‘re awaken’ the space through a full-scale mirrored installation, enabling people to focus on the role and history of the chapel, and its unique characteristics as an architectonic environment dedicated to the spiritual and to art. The installation encourages contemplation and a critical engagement with the space and its narratives. Visitors themselves step in to the ‘reflection portrait’, interacting with both actual and virtual space. Some of the key narratives in the chapel derive from symbolic references to the Holy Land, which are highlighted in a second work by Langlands & Bell, a wall painting at the gallery in the visitor centre. The third Marquis of Bute visited the Holy Land in the spring of 1865. Stones he collected from each of the holy places he visited were incorporated in the altar of the chapel, where they form part of a scheme linking Scotland with the Holy Land. The imagery for the wall painting is derived from the international designator codes for Rothesay/Jerusalem and Glasgow/Tel Aviv. The painting recalls and contrasts Bute’s trip to Palestine and the formative influence it had on his conceptions for the chapel, with the symbolic journey made to the same destinations in the modern world, as the codes are read today. An illustrated artist’s book with photographs by Christoph Kicherer and Keith Hunter and texts by Tim Knox and Charlotte Edwards will be published by Mount Stuart Trust in conjunction with the exhibition. The exhibition and publication have received support from Scottish Arts Council, The Henry Moore Foundation, Foundation for Sport and the Arts and Greenberg Glass.
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Langlands & Bell at Mount Stuart