House of Beasts

Kate MccGwire / Alastair Mackie
selected works

A new exhibition of contemporary art produced by Meadow Arts and hosted by the National Trust, House of Beasts will take place from 3rd July 2011 in the mansion, stables and parkland of Attingham Park, a flagship National Trust property in the West Midlands.


The group show will include new commissions and existing works that highlight the current fascination with animals in contemporary art and explore the ongoing creative practice of using animals as metaphors and references. Both commissioned and borrowed works will reflect and explore Attingham rich collections and history as well as underline the importance of the estate’s animal population past and present.


House of Beasts will investigate our relationships with those animals, whether domesticated, wild or managed, who live alongside us. These can range from highly emotional ties, as in the case of pets or horses, to purely economical; animals can elicit admiration and curiosity, as in the case of birds and butterflies, or even pure antagonism, as with pests. It will also explore the philosophical shift in the way we approach the relationship between people and animals, sometimes rejecting human exceptionalism and inverting ideas of anthropomorphism.


This exhibition supports a three year partnership between the National Trust and Arts Council England to promote contemporary art at National Trust properties.


Meadow Arts has invited a number of artists, to produce works inspired by Attingham’s history and drawing on its rich collections. These new commissions will be shown alongside many further works by high profile and emerging artists.


Susie MacMurray has been commissioned to create a large installation with antlers, which have been collected from the deer herd on the Attingham Estate.

Tom Gallant has taken inspiration from weaver birds. He has used shreds of interior magazines to create nests that emerge from the mahogany panelled cabinets in the Octagon Room.

Des Hughes has also created a new commission in bronze relating to Attingham’s dog-walking population and Ruth Claxton will create an outdoor piece based around an exotic birds nest.

Sophie Molins has made a web based work which tells the story of a music box in the form of a monkey with ruby eyes, given by the second Lord Berwick to his young wife as a wedding present.

Meadow Arts  Contact Anne de Charmant: 

Meadow Arts commissions new art works and produces temporary, context responsive exhibitions, accompanied by vibrant education and engagement programmes. It is currently delivering its exhibition programme in partnership with the National Trust. House of Beasts (curated by Anne de Charmant, founder and director of Meadow Arts, with Louisa Mayor) follows on from ‘Still Life’ at Hanbury Hall, ‘Give me Shelter’ at Attingham Park and ‘Tell it to the Trees’ at Croft Castle.

Meadow Arts is a registered charity and part of the Arts Council England’s National Portfolio. House of Beasts is supported by ACE, the Elmley Foundation, the Ernest Cook Foundation and delivered in partnership with The National Trust.

Trust New Art

Trust New Art is a three-year contemporary art and craft programme taking place at selected historic houses, countryside and garden properties across England. It is supported by a partnership between National Trust and Arts Council England to build links between the National Trust and the contemporary arts and craft sector.

 Trust New Art involves a wide programme of events, projects and products developed to make contemporary arts and crafts an integral part of the National Trust's daily offer to visitors, building new audiences and providing commission opportunities to both emerging and established artists.


About Attingham

Attingham is a flagship National Trust property in the West Midlands. The great estate is situated between Shrewsbury and the River Severn in 500 acres of parkland. The house was designed by George Steuart, built in 1785 and later altered by John Nash (1805-1807). The parkland and deer park were created with the help of landscape designers Thomas Leggett and Humphrey Repton.  The house was the ancestral home of the Berwick family for over 160 years.


House of Beasts Artists List

Alastair Mackie  / Anj Smith / Daphne Wright / Des Hughes / Henry Krokatsis / Hugo Wilson  / Kate MccGwire / Kathleen Herbert / Marcus Coates / Mat Collishaw / Nina Saunders / Polly Morgan / Rachel Goodyear / Robert Davies / Ruth Claxton / Sophie Molins / Susie MacMurray  / Tessa Farmer / Tom Gallant