A Site of Discovery

This March, a major new UK sculpture park opens in the grounds of Compton Verney, a historic manor with over 120 acres of art, nature and creativity in Warwickshire. Eight modern and contemporary international artists transform the Georgian setting, marking 20 years since the gallery first opened its doors to the public. The large-scale display responds to the long history of the site – an area that dates back to the 16th century. Today, new sculptures, from names such as Augustas Serapinas, Helen Chadwick, Perminda Kaur, Larry Achiampong, Louise Bourgeois and Sarah Lucas, can be found in the natural landscape, nestled in native wildlife of oak, ask and lime trees, alongside wildflower meadows and rural bridges.

Atop the Old Town Meadow, Lithuanian artist Augustas Serapinas has created Standtune (2024), a reimagined work that employs ancient fencing techniques used for defence purposes. Serapinas uses wood local to Warwickshire, acknowledging the ancient village of Compton Murdak, a medieval settlement which is known to have been deserted during the 15th century. The sculpture asks question of its site; it navigates how people interact with place, choosing what to pay attention to. More than this, it highlights overlooked questions and ideas of a common cultural heritage, thinking about our shared encounters through physical and and local spaces. Elsewhere, we see the work of 2022 Aesthetica Prize Winner Larry Achiampong with his afro-futuristic project Relic Traveller: Phase. Four large flags billow over the grounds, where the design of each features 54 stars that represent the different countries of Africa, highlighting the continent’s diasporic identity. Colours of black, green and red reflect its people, land, and struggles it has endured, whilst a field of yellow gold, represents “a new day of prosperity.” Achiampong explores narratives of migration, continuing on from his feature length film Wayfinder (2022), as he navigates topics of inheritance and privilege in addition to questions surrounding privatisation and ownership of land.

Forthcoming in October 2024 is an exhibition by Chila Kumari Singh Burman. The artist, celebrated internationally for her radical feminist practice, is well known for her transformation of Tate Britain in 2020 with Remembering a Brave New World. The piece transformed the front of the gallery into a celebration of bright lights and swirling colour, imagining Britannia, a symbol of imperialism, into Kali, the Hindu goddess of liberation and power. For her upcoming exhibition, she draws on Punjabi and Liverpudlian heritage in a series of multimedia works spanning collage, film, print and sculpture. A large scale intervention will cover the façade of the house, comprising of the artist’s vibrant and signature neons. It’s part of an exciting programme for Compton Verney, namely one that aims to provoke and spark conversations around identity and cultural heritage. Geraldine Collinge, Chief Executive Officer notes, “We believe Compton Verney is an extraordinary, unusual, creative experience – a place for the curious, where all are welcome to be inspired, delighted, challenged and rejuvenated.”


Compton Verney: Sculpture in the Park

comptonverney.org.uk


Image Credits:

1. Larry Achiampong, PAN AFRICAN FLAG FOR THE RELIC TRAVELLERS’ ALLIANCE (COMMUNITY) (2017) Appliqué flag. Commissioned by Somerset House. Courtesy the artist and Copperfield, London. Photography By Somerset House/Reece Straw/Anders Sune Berg. 

2. Augustas Serapinas, Standtune (2020) Image by Marc Domage, (2021).

3. Louise Bourgeois SPIDER, 1996 installed at Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, NY in 2007 Christopher Burke, © The Easton Foundation Licensed by DACS, UKGayle Chong Kwan, Taotie, (2024)