Ham House will be hosting a contemporary art exhibition called Garden of Reason between 28 April and 23 September 2012. Nine artists have been invited to create work inspired by the seventeenth-century garden of Ham House.
The title of the exhibition refers to the ‘age of reason’, the development of new philosophical systems in Europe in the seventeenth century based on strictly rational analysis and scientific research. The artists have been given access to the seventeenth-century archives relating to Ham and its owner, the feisty Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Dysart and Duchess of Lauderdale.
‘Eight ſculptures’ by Alan Kane and Simon Periton is an imaginative recreation of the sculptures (or ‘ſculptures’, as it was written at the time – with thanks to the helpful commenter below) that used to grace the Wilderness garden at Ham. Those sculptures were copies of famous Renaissance and antique works, and Kane and Periton are investigating issues of cultural plunder, copying and disappearance.
Ruth Proctor has inserted large helium balloons into the Wilderness and also into the front collonade of the house, as part of her work ‘Weight of air’. Proctor was inspired by Galileo’s investigations into the weight and speed of falling objects and the developing knowledge about atmospheric pressure.
The Garden of Reason project has its own blog where team members are posting updates, background information and images.