The world’s smallest cinema, giant blocks of ice and a fair bit of taxidermy: ah yes, it must be the launch of the Tatton Park Biennial
One of the good things about Manchester is its proximity to the great outdoors, from the dizzy heights of Winter Hill to the vast country estates that litter the countryside like egg sarnies at a picnic. One such grand residence is the 1,000 acre Tatton Park, which this summer hosts its second ever indoor-outdoor art event, the Tatton Park Biennial.
This year’s Biennial sees around 20 artists and writers taking Tatton’s elegant Georgian mansion (and the rolling landscape and gardens that surround it) as their starting point for a series of artworks that promise, if nothing else, to lend a dreamlike air to this otherwise august estate. New work includes Brenda Beban’s interactive doll’s house, the smallest cinema in the world (a six-seater contained within a battery-powered horse trailer), a fair bit of taxidermy and Marcia Farquhar’s life-size rocking horse (above), ridden painfully slowly across the park.
Elsewhere, five metre-wide lilies lie in Tatton Mere, bright red and stretched across a mile and a half of water, designed to be visible from the planes coming in to land at Manchester Airport. Nearby, Fiona Curran’s tree house in the arboretum slowly collapses, two tons of Arctic ice gradually melts, and Austin Houldsworth’s ‘fossilisation machine’ will, over the five months that the Biennial runs, produce its own fossil.
Surreal, thought-provoking and not without humour, the Biennial’s setting within the National Trust’s most popular property makes it worth the short hop out of Manchester city centre. Best of all, free buses will collect tourists from Cornerhouse and deposit them at Tatton (and back) for free – details below. Keep an eye out next week for our interview with Biennial favourite Neville Gabie, the artist whose work features an outsize block of ice hauled from Greenland to Cheshire, which he intends to keep frozen via the power of the sun…
Tatton Park Biennial Tatton Park, Knutsford WA16 6QN. 8 May- 26 September, times and prices vary. Free buses operate 12 & 13 June, 17, 18 & 31 July, 1, 28, 29 & 30 August. Check website for times. Note that there is a charge for the car park, house and formal gardens. Images (top to bottom): Marcia Farquhar The Horse is a Noble Animal photo: Thierry Bal; Fiona Curran This time next year things are going to be different photo: Thierry Bal