As the huge 5-year building conservation project to save Castle Drogo continues, artists have been invited to create new contemporary artworks to respond to and interpret the project and the fascinating history of the site.
One of the creative partners working at Castle Drogo is the established photographer Mike Smallcombe. For the past year Mike has been gathering stories and images to create a series of ten large-scale photographs to display around the site.
Mike’s work aims to represent the human story of Castle Drogo and the surrounding landscape to create intriguing and rich images. The inspiration of these photographs will bring a wider understanding of the castle, inspired by the people who lived there, the history of the estate and the landscape of Dartmoor.
Visitors to the castle over the next two years will find that ‘nothing is normal’. The building work which will make the Lutyens’ designed building watertight for the first time in its history, has presented a rare opportunity for people to get up close to the conservation work and view the interior of the house as never before!
Mike’s photographs which are now on display at the property from this weekend until autumn 2016, add another fascinating layer to the new 2015 visitor experience at Castle Drogo. The ten high resolution images each measuring approximately 3m x 2m and printed on waterproof canvas, are suspended between trees in the formal garden and around the wider estate near Hunter’s Path, Fingle Bridge and along the River Teign for visitors to discover.
The images reference such stories and places as Julius Drewe’s passion for salmon fishing in the River Teign, the Waifs and Strays Society, the charcoal burning that used to take place in the valley, and Blackenstone Quarry where much of the granite used to build the castle was sourced.
The exhibition aims to connect more people to this special place, highlighting links between the house, garden and estate, as well as some of the lesser known stories of the surrounding landscape. A map of locations will help visitors to discover the photographs. A number are in the immediate grounds and others displayed further afield, encouraging walks out onto the estate.
Creative Programme Manager Louise Donovan says, ‘This is an exciting and ambitious project for Castle Drogo and we expect that the stunning images will intrigue and delight our current audience as well as introducing the stunning garden and estate to new visitors.’
Mike Smallcombe is a photographer/artist living and working from his Devon studio for the past 21 years, and on projects in London. In 2007 he won the photography award at the Exeter Contemporary Open, and in 2008 Mike was awarded Arts Council funding for his touring exhibition Ghosts in the Wood shown at Haldon Forest, Exeter, Kielder Forest, Northumberland and Grizedale Forest in the Lake District.
You can also experience a bird's eye view of the building work by climbing up the viewing tower to look down onto the roof (restrictions apply)
Images and words courtesy of National Trust South West