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Anish Kapoor, Sky Mirror (2018) and Eight Eight (2004) © Anish Kapoor. All rights reserved, DACS 2020


A Fine Balance

This will be our fourth pop-up exhibition of art and handmade objects by artists and makers from East Anglia held in The Stables at Houghton Hall. The exhibition will feature recent work by more than 40 artists and makers who explore narratives that reference our landscape, the creatures that share it, natural materials and processes, and how mankind’s activities affect and influence it. The fine balance these artists seek is often a moment, or a tipping point that brings attention to an aspect of our surroundings that has been overlooked or undervalued.

The situation we now find ourselves in collectively, as the Covid-19 epidemic runs its devastating course means that our relationship with ‘the great outdoors’ has probably changed forever. The artists and makers we have included in the exhibition are ahead of the curve, creating memorable images that will chime with the public, post lockdown. During the last four months we have all had to become aware of our vulnerability to forces we mistakenly assumed we had mastered. We respond viscerally to a favourite view or landscape, much as we would if our home or family were under threat. The exhibition holds up a mirror to what we perceive, or have hidden, in the complex confluence between the sustainable and natural, the artificial and man-made.

Some of the artists and makers have chosen to look at a highly maintained version of the countryside and our place within it. Others employ sustainable materials to create pleasing pieces intended to be handled and used every day. Others look into the natural phenomena and practical activities that are frequently personal to us in terms of our physical impact on the planet whether through recycling and re-assigning waste to new purposes. While others explore areas that are not quite urban or rural, but like much of modern Britain, somewhere in-between.

The exhibition is open from Sunday 1 July to 1 November, to coincide with the same opening times as the Anish Kapoor sculpture exhibition held throughout the gardens and park at Houghton Hall. Check the Houghton Hall website to see opening times and to book tickets for entry onto the estate.

The title comes from Rohinton Mistry’s novel A Fine Balance, published in 1996. The book was set in 1975 and traces the lives of four main characters whose interconnected lives are heavily impacted by their circumstances in a fictional Indian city, as they slip between a succession of karmic banana skins and chance encounters during the course of the narrative. Mistry’s powerful story exposes familiar fault lines within the values of a society where the characters lives are in jeopardy, brought about by familial conventions, community pressure, institutional injustice, socio-economic forces and political self-interest and convenience.