‘Nature’s Presence’ is an exhibition inspired by Blakesley Hall’s history and its relationship with nature. The exhibition is set within the Hall and the Visitor Centre.
Blakesley is a timber-framed Tudor house located in Yardley. The Hall resides within a residential suburban area a few miles outside Birmingham city centre. Built in 1590 by Richard Smallbroke, one of Birmingham’s leading merchant families, Blakesley Hall’s architecture is typical of the Tudor period. Today, the house has been furnished from a 17th century inventory and it reflects the lifestyle of a wealthy family from that time.
Nature has been present at Blakesley Hall throughout its history. In the Hall’s grounds are an apple orchard and garden. Here a variety of species are planted in the style of a traditional herb garden. Inside the Hall, wall paintings have decorated rooms since the 17th century. In the Painted Chamber, floral decoration covered all the walls and timbers. These were inspired by 16th century books of engravings of flowers, fruits and foliage for decorating borders, friezes and panels in houses.
The artworks in ‘Nature’s Presence’ have been selected from the Arts Council Collection, Birmingham’s collection and other major collections. They range in media from film and photography to paintings and sculpture. The artists look at the natural world through presenting flowers, animals and fruit from different artistic perspectives.
Artists in ‘Nature’s Presence’ include John Blakemore, Oliver Clare, Ruth Claxton, Brian Duffy, Nerys Johnson, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Josef Herman, Georgie Hopton, Thomas Henry Kendall, Pradip Malde, Margaret Mellis, Helen McQuillan, Hayley Newman and Paula Rego. The exhibition is accompanied by a rare series of herbarium specimen’s native to Yardley.
A comprehensive learning and access programme accompanies this exhibition.