The Illumination at Houghton Hall, Norfolk


Houghton Hall is a grand Palladian country house originally built for Britain’s first prime minister, Robert Walpole. Houghton’s current owner, the Marquess of Cholmondeley, is a dedicated collector of James Turrell’s art and has commissioned a series of permanent installations on his estate. An exhibition devoted to James Turrell’s work has been a long-held ambition of Lord Cholmondeley’s. He first discovered Turrell’s work twenty years ago, and in 2000 invited him to Houghton to install a ‘Skyspace’ amongst the trees on the west side of the house.

Skyscape - Houghton Hall - James Turrell

Soon afterwards, a rusty water tank was removed from an 18th century folly in the park to make way for his atmospheric interior space, ‘St Elmo’s Breath’.

The Water Tower housing St. Elmo's breath
St Elmo's Breath, 1992 - Space Divsion - Humphrey Munson

The show is centred around works from the Houghton collection, which also includes projections, a ‘Tall Glass’, holograms and prints. The exhibition is complemented by further loans to help cover the broad spectrum of Turrell’s work; and lastly a unique, site specific installation has been created especially for Houghton – ‘The Illumination’- which will see the entire west façade of Houghton lit in a slowly evolving light show specifically created by Turrell.

houghton Hall - The Illumination - Humphrey Munson

This 45 minute spectacle will begin at dusk and can only be seen on Friday and Saturday evenings and is spread over five locations in the stables, Hall and grounds and takes between one and two hours to explore. Visitors can go to see just the Illumination, or else buy a combined ticket to include the Hall, gardens, grounds and contemporary sculpture, as well as the rest of the LightScape exhibition. Visitors will be able to take advantage of the later closing times for the Hall, grounds and gardens. The restaurant will be open for dinner bookings and a pop-up café on the west front will provide drinks and snacks for those wanting to relax whilst watching the show unfold.

Take a look at the Houghton Hall website for more information and how to book tickets.

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