Apollo
Rakewell

Fear and loathing at Chatsworth House

25 March 2022

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

It is axiomatic that connoisseurs enjoy the good things of life – something that Rakewell has always understood. Your correspondent gleans particular enjoyment from pastoral beauty  – especially that of a landscape that has been shaped and formed to a point of perfection. To this effect, there are few places as pleasing as the parks of Chatsworth. The natural roll of the land, the light and shade, the absence of vulgar straight lines… all coheres into a perfect emblem of England, on which one can gaze, contemplating one’s next recreation in perfect ease.

Imagine, then, our surprise when we discovered that Capability Brown’s idyll has been interrupted. The 12th Duke of Devonshire has elected to fill his park with sculptures by the artists of Burning Man – a festival more usually associated with the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. The idea of Adrian Landon’s Wings of Glory set amid the verdant scene somewhat overwhelms your humble correspondent.

Rakewell is all too used to enjoying the pleasures of the highly-manicured open fields of Derbyshire – but we are aware that other, perhaps younger, souls seek a way into relaxation through other means.Could it be that the festival of Burning Man, far from working against the spirit of Chatsworth is, in fact, its contemporary incarnation? A festival dedicated to self-expression and community has a sort of correspondence with Chatsworth, the meeting point of so many great artists of the 18th century. And after all, just how different was the carousing in the time of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, from what takes place in Black Rock Desert?

Still, we cannot help but feel that a festival that has ‘decommodification’ as one of its central tenets might, perhaps, be going against the grain in unleashing 12 sculptures onto Derbyshire’s fair and pleasant land. We suppose it is just another of the many contradictions artists must grapple with, whether they are enjoying themselves in Derbyshire or Nevada.

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.

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