The rich red earth of the Marchmont Estate is being turned into paint for dramatic artworks exploring fertility and the female spirit.
The pieces are being created by Annabel Wightman (pictured above by Jennifer Charlton) one of the artists who have residencies in the Creative Spaces studios and workshops in specially-refurbished Victorian buildings in the grounds of Marchmont House, near Greenlaw, in the Scottish Borders.
Covid restrictions permitting, visitors will be able to meet Annabel and fellow artists including Endellion Lycett Green, during an open studios weekend on 8 and 9 May.
Both artists are based in The Marchmont Studios, the Upper and Lower Power House, which are part of Marchmont’s Arts & Crafts outbuildings designed by Sir Robert Lorimer.
Like Annabel, Endellion has been influenced by the park and farmlands round the 1750 Grade A listed Palladian mansion, and is developing a body of work inspired by its colours, landscapes and stonework. These will hang alongside a series of paintings of cornflowers which are proving popular with collectors.
Endellion, who has exhibited in venues such as The Lefevre and the Browse and Darby Gallery and whose work is on permanent display at Chatsworth House, came up from Wiltshire to spend up to nine months as part of the creative community at Marchmont.
She said: “I have been determined to use this time to discover something new and to create an entirely new body of work. The land and the landscapes are so rich and the night sky is so dark and clear compared with the south of England. The moon has become one of my motifs.
“It’s been very exciting to come here, and enormously creative. If anything I’ve been working too hard, collapsing into bed each night exhausted.
“The studios are fabulous, with so much space and light – and unlike so many studios they are warm too. Then there is the sense of communality that comes from living and working as part of a group of tremendously creative people.”
Annabel, who lives in London but whose father was from Perth, has welcomed the chance to return to Scotland. Before arriving at Marchmont, Annabel had been a personal chef. She has also worked at Dupplin Castle and more recently Skye’s Michelin starred Three Chimneys restaurant.
Soon after arriving she watched the land being worked and thought wanted to find a way to make it part of her art.
She said: “The soil around my studio is an incredibly rich red-brown, and I began collecting it to make my own paint, to create a series of works exploring ideas about fertility, the feminine and faith. The soil has hues of the Indian red, which I use to paint on top of the earth.
“My studio is situated neatly on a muddy track, it is a kind of heaven being surrounded by a paint material.”
There is a highly performative element to her work and some of the two-metre canvases she has created for her Muliebris Imago (image of woman) project show dancing figures that celebrates the female spirit.
Annabel said: “I have been reading about the life of Hildegard Von Bingen. As a girl of eight she was offered into the church and committed to years in silence.
“From an early age Hildegard is described to have received visions, many describing the identity of women. Hildegard’s story runs parallel to the present-day experience and how we are learning to live during this time – in a period of confinement.”
In collaboration with photographer Jennifer Charlton, Annabel hopes the Muliebris Imago project will result in an art book. She intends to have full-scale paintings as well as smaller works and sketches on show at the open studios in May.
She said: “I started out my creative life as an actress and performer. However, after being accepted into the Royal College of Art my creative arena completely opened up, I saw fashion, performance and photography as a whole new language just waiting to be explored.
“Coming to Marchmont has been amazing – it’s the first time I’ve had the space to stretch out and work at scale.”
Hugo Burge, Marchmont Director, said: “We are delighted that Endellion and Annabel have joined us at the Marchmont Studios; a welcome addition to our nascent creative community.
“It has been heart-warming to be able to push forward with the first phase of our Creative Spaces project during this challenging year. We are now looking forward to the next phase of developments and are working with a variety of arts organisations to offer a programme of supported residencies for visiting artists.
“And most of all we look forward to the time when we can welcome visitors and guests in search of creative inspiration back to Marchmont.”
- Event details will be posted on the website at www.marchmonthouse.com
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Notes for Editors
For media information contact Matthew Shelley at Matthew@ScottishFestivalsPR.Org or 07786 704299.
About Endellion Lycett Green
- Endellion is a British painter who lives in Wiltshire. She is renowned for her figurative paintings of plants and nature, and recently expanded her repertoire to paint unique abstract works as a form of self-expression.
- Her career spans over 25 years, and she has exhibited widely across the UK. Her work features in numerous private and corporate collections. It has also been featured in Vogue, Tatler and Christie’s magazine.
- She grew up surrounded by art, and as a teenager was mesmerised by Lucian Freud’s portrayal of plants. This inspired her to pursue art, studying Fine Art and English at Exeter University.
- Endellion spent many years solely painting plants to express her love of nature, but recently she has intertwined her plant work with abstraction. Seeing Barnett Newman’s work at the Tate Modern ignited her interest in Abstract Expressionism.
- She recently spent time in Cornwall and was inspired by the work of Barbara Hepworth, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and Bryan Wynter.
About Annabel Wightman
- Over the years Annabel has combined her artistic practice with working in the very different world of hospitality. This included a spell at London’s Black Island recording studios where she provided meals and snacks for bands, crews, session musicians and a host of celebrities from Kylie to Shirley Bassey.
- After performing in a variety of children’s plays for Theatre in Education Annabel gained her Equity card but was later accepted into the RCA.
- For the last five years Annabel has been working with women’s wear fashion designer Edeline Lee on London Fashion Weeks for a variety of seasonal collections.
- She gained her master’s degree in ceramics and glass at the Royal College of Art in 2009 and there began an interest in life drawing. Taught by the RCA tutor and painter Dilip Sur. Dilip’s teaching methods have become an influence on Annabel’s figurative work.
- Her recent sculpture Spheroid was exhibited at AW contemporary, please see www.awcontemporary.com. The sculpture can now be viewed at Moriarty’s in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.
- Marchmont House is a 1750 Palladian mansion near Greenlaw in the Scottish Borders.
- It was awarded the 2018 Historic Houses/Sotheby’s Award following a seven-year restoration, which was described by the jury as “stunning”.
- The house has one of the finest Georgian and Arts & Crafts interiors in Scotland.
- It is open to the public for a limited number of days each year, for tours and special events.
- The Marchmont team is dedicated to bringing the house alive as a home for makers and creators, celebrating innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship
- The Creative Spaces project is entirely privately funded by Marchmont Farms Limited and has not called on grants from the public sector or charities – which are facing immense demands for their limited resources.
- The studios and workshops have been created by the conversion of a series of 19th-century outbuildings round a courtyard near the house and its spectacular walled garden.
- The project’s value has already been demonstrated by the establishing of The Marchmont Workshop, which has saved the great 19th-century tradition of Arts & Crafts rush seated ladder back chairs for a new chapter in the Scottish Borders.
- Visit www.marchmonthouse.com for more information.
- For information about The Marchmont Workshop see https://themarchmontworkshop.com.
About Hugo Burge
- Director of Marchmont Ventures which is building sustainable creativity in the arts, crafts and purpose driven business.
- Director of Marchmont Farms Ltd., which operates Marchmont Estate, with a focus on restoring Marchmont House and bringing it back to life after a period of institutional usage.
- Former CEO of the Momondo Group which powers pioneering brands that shape and inspire global travel search.