A Woman’s Place at Knole

Six contemporary art commissions highlight the progression towards equality through the stories of the women who have contributed to the spirit & history of Knole.

KNOLE HOUSE, SEVENOAKS, KENT, TN15 0RP
17 MAY – 14 NOVEMBER 2018

Lubaina Himid

Lubaina Himid investigates the story of Grace Robinson; a laundry maid at Knole at the time of Lady Anne Clifford. Robinson is one of the few people of colour who worked at Knole, identified by the term ‘a blackamoor’ in the 17th Century. Lubaina seeks to celebrate the undocumented presence of those who laboured behind the scenes, working with portraiture and motifs, clothing and pattern.

Lubaina Himid is the 2017 Turner Prize Winner. She was born in Zanzibar and currently lives in Preston. Himid is Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire. Forthcoming projects include: 2018 Hollybush Gardens, London, UK [solo] Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, UK ; 2017 The Times, Flag Art Foundation, NYC, USA [group]; Firstsite, Colchester [solo]; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, DE [solo]; Folkestone Triennale, UK [new public commission]; Manchester International Festival ’17, Manchester. She is represented by Hollybush Gardens, London.

CJ Mahony

CJ Mahony’s sculptural work references the materials of conservation used during Knole’s extensive renovation,  and will hold a central stained-glass panel that references the nature of ownership. Eradicated hands hold Knole, symbolising all the women historically and those today (family, National Trust staff and volunteers) who have cared for Knole but been unable to own it.  The loss of Knole caused Vita Sackville –West to write “Knole is denied to me for ever, through a technical fault over which we have no control”

CJ Mahony was born in London and currently lives in Berlin. She graduated from her MA at Camberwell Collage of Art in 2012. She was co founder and a director of Aid & Abet, an artist run space in Cambridge between 2011-2014. She makes large scale immersive environments that seek to unsettle and small scale objects that mimic and pretend. She has undertaken many public commissions and has exhibited across the UK.

Lindsay Seers

Seers’ work focuses on ‘the love letter’, the famous description of Virginia Woolf’s book ‘Orlando’ dedicated to Vita Sackville West. Drawing in particular on the correspondence between Vita and Virginia it takes the form of a digital book with text, spoken word, music and film. 

Lindsay Seers (born 1966) is a British artist working in London and living on the Isle of Sheppey.  Her works are in a number of collections including Tate and Arts Council and Artangel collections and the collection of MONA, Tasmania. She has won several prestigious grants and awards including the Sharjah Art Foundation Production Award, UAE; Le Jeu de Paume production award for the Toulouse Festival, France; the Paul Hamlyn Award; the Derek Jarman Award and a number of Arts Council and British Council Awards in support of her works.

Emily Speed

Emily Speed proposes a sculptural dressing table (a ‘living screen/seated space’), for the Orangery. Incorporating seasonal planting, small water features, seating and scent the work evokes Victoria’s story in particular. It also includes references to Pepita and Vita, the complexity of mother–daughter relationships and finding moments of intimacy against the backdrop of public display.

Speed has shown extensively in UK and abroad, including Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, Texas, Oredaria Gallery, Rome; Laumeier Sculpture Park, St Louis, USA; Danielle Arnaud Gallery, London; Bluecoat, Liverpool; Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland. In 2013 she made ‘Lady Garden’, a new commission for STILL/Life, Ecologies of Perception, Trust New Art Bristol at Tyntesfield, National Trust, Bristol. She was selected for the Northern Art Prize 2013.

Alice May Williams

By the Accident of Your Birth takes its title from a quote in Vita Sackville West’s ‘The Edwardians’. Using the conversation between Aquetil and Sebastian in the novel as a starting point, Williams’ film considers the complex aspect of primogeniture that has determined so much of the history of Knole. It explores how we are formally categorised into groups at births (by sex, nationality, family etc) and considers how these societal constructions shape our lives.

Alice May Williams graduated from her MFA Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2014. Selected screenings, solo and group exhibitions include: And Now…Grants for Irish Lesbians! Tintype, London 2017, Speke Of The Future, Speke Hall  (National Trust) & Bluecoat, Liverpool 2015, An Unreliable Witness, Jerwood Project Space, London 2015, Liberties, Collyer Bristow, London 2015 and The Exchange, Penzance 2016;. In 2016 she was selected for the Jerwood/FVU Awards 2016, and used her £20,000 bursary to make the film Dream City – More, Better, Sooner.

Melanie Wilson

Wilson takes inspiration from the lives of Lady Anne Clifford and Lady Frances Cranfield. The work will invite connections between their experiences as 17th century women and the lives of contemporary British women, using Knole House as the thread across generations. The piece will be experienced through headphones, in locations around Knole.

Melanie Wilson is a theatre maker whose work combines sound and language to create powerful, poetic performances. Her work has been presented in the U.K and internationally, featuring recently in the sound design for the multi-media work of director Katie Mitchell, at The National Theatre and The Barbican, London; Schauspeilhaus, Cologne; Avignon Festival; Theatretreffen, Berlin Festspeile; Schaubuhne, Berlin; Berg Theatre, Vienna, the Salzburg Festival and DeutscheSchauspeilHaus, Hamburg.

Lindsay Seers – copyright Lindsay Seers / Keith Sargent