Burrell is a titan of Light Art - a man in his eighties, he has spent a lifetime flirting with both the edges of our atmosphere as a pilot and inside laboratories as a scientist before concentrating on the visual as an artist. He is enthralled by light, our perceptions of it, the limitations of what we can understand and fathom. By extent he is a colourist, someone who enjoys a huge spectrum of hues and shades and the interplay they share with one another.
This exhibition, largely encouraged by the great country house owner Lord Cholmondeley, has been years in the planning and adds to the collection already in situ amongst the grounds. On any given day you can walk through the hedges and over the lawns and enjoy a Richard Long slate circle and a Rachel Whiteread concrete holding. But at dusk there is a structure from Turrell (built in 2002) that allows for a square glimpse into the sky above, unblocked by glass this framing of the sky alters and bends as the light inside confounds the twilight outside the structure, they ebb and flow against one another. On an overcast afternoon the effect is muted but he has built similar all over the world and during predawn and before the onslaught of darkness each night, they are a little bit of magic for the eyes.
His largest project and quite probably the largest project by any contemporary artist, is the hollowing out of a retired volcano in the Nevada desert. At Roden Crater he has tunnelled routes into different zones to gain views of the sky from certain apertures and windows, this magnum work is presented here with technical drawings, scale models and architectural photos. Although not yet open to the public it is hoped funding can be secured to see the dream realised, even if after his death.
Smaller light works, seen more recently at Pace Piccadilly and the Light Show exhibition at the Hayward, are presented here in stables and side rooms, in fact over all manner of terrain and the exploration of the grand house and grounds is one of the great delights of viewing these works here.
On each Friday and Saturday night at the varying times of dusk since the show began, the final showstopper is a forty-five minute movement in light across, on, under and at the west façade of the hall. Subtle changes of colour and graduations of intensity play off against the approaching night sky and ultimately illuminate the lawn and spectators in the glow of more intense lighting - not unlike a slow festival headliner in silence. It's a gentle end to a wide reaching exhibition but a highlight of the summer shows and a gracious nod to more nobel times, the grand architecture of the country pile as much a star as the lights.
Though the Lightscape exhibition ends as stated below, the Water Tower continues to show St Elmo's Breath. That and Skyscape are permanent fixtures along with a large sprawling contemporary sculpture collection amid the grounds.
http://www.houghtonhall.com/whats-on/lightscape/ until October 24th