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Ingrid Pollard

First visual art fellow stages new exhibition at Belsay Hall

Published on: 8 February 2024

Ingrid Pollard MBE has created new work in response to one of Northumbria’s grandest houses Belsay Hall

There is light in the fissures

There is Light in the Fissures is a new exhibition of works by Newcastle University and English Heritage’s first visual art fellow, and 2022 Turner Prize nominee, Ingrid Pollard MBE.

Opening at Belsay Hall, and Quarry Gardens on 10 February 2024, the exhibition is part of the charity’s creative programme. Pollard has created a series of interventions and installations throughout the historic site, drawing on her year-long fellowship there.

From her intricately designed paper fragments that cover the torn wallpaper in Belsay Hall’s bedrooms, to the clandestine mirrors that hide in plain sight within the Quarry Gardens, her new works explore the landscape and the layers of history that it would have witnessed, with a particular focus on the sandstone from which the hall and quarry were made. Ropes secured to the towering pillars that line Belsay’s impressive Greek revival hall will cradle a huge stone segment, found within the grounds. Suspended at half a metre, this large-scale installation will dominate the space, while elsewhere, Pollard will subtly reference the importance of water and its part in the formation of sandstone over thousands of years.

A photograph of the artist Ingrid Pollard at Belsay Hall
Ingrid Pollard at Belsay Hall


Ingrid Pollard MBE said: “The prospect of working at Belsay Hall was tantalising from the very beginning. It’s almost magical landscape led me down the pathways of sound, magic and performance and I found myself excited by the idea of bringing parts of this wonderland inside. The lines of enquiry that I have followed are many and, in some cases, surprising.  I am looking forward to showing people what I have found.”

Andrew Burton, Professor of Fine Art at Newcastle University said: "We're thrilled that Ingrid Pollard has created a new body of truly beautiful art that responds uniquely to Belsay Hall and its gardens. Our aim in establishing Ingrid's fellowship - an innovative partnership with English Heritage was to give a world class artist time and space to think deeply about one of the region's most special historic places.

"The result is astonishing and mesmerising art that is certain to enrich and stimulate thousands of visits to Belsay. It proves that the University's long-term investment in promoting the importance of contemporary art in historic places was a risk well worth taking and that university research in the creative arts really can make a difference."

English Heritage’s Senior Creative Programme Manager, Penelope Sexton, said: “The castles, Abbeys and stately homes of England have a long history of inspiring great works of art, but English Heritage’s new creative programme wants artists to look at these wonderful old buildings in new ways. Ingrid Pollard has spent the past year doing just that, and it has been so interesting to watch her tease out the layers of history at Belsay, ones that don’t necessarily fit in with the obvious narratives.”

The fellowship and resulting exhibition is in partnership with Newcastle University supported by Bartlett Endowment Funding and forms part of English Heritage’s new national creative programme, which aims to produce outstanding artistic responses by contemporary artists to the historic sites and collections within the charity’s care.

Historic places are rich sources of inspiration, and Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, in particular, presents a fantastic opportunity for artists to present history in a different way.  Comprising a massive 14th century tower, a Jacobean mansion, an elegant Classical Greek Revival villa and 20 acres of unique gardens, Belsay is a trove of stories waiting to be discovered.

Ingrid Pollard temporarily joined Newcastle University's Fine Art department to deliver teaching to their students, while researching Belsay’s history and making these new site specific works.


Press release adapted with thanks to English Heritage

There is Light in the Fissures by Ingrid Pollard

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