After the brilliant sunshine of the last weekend, this one was a bit of a washout, not least because it was a Bank Holiday (and the Jubilee)! Still, not to be deterred Gavin and I set off for an afternoon at the National Trust house Uppark in West Sussex. Sitting high up on the South Downs in the new National Park, Uppark has the most spectacular uninterrupted views towards the sea.
This photo doesn’t begin to do the view justice!
Uppark is a strange sort of house and is techincally a sort of New Build. The original house was reduced to a burned out shell after a catastrophic fire in 1989 which started in the roof and brought all the ceilings down. Fortunately most of the furniture and paintings etc were saved, although the family and staff lost all their personal belongings.
The NT took the decision after much consultation to rebuild the house as it was before the fire and it is a credit to the craftsmen involved that the house looks today the way it does. restoration of this nature comes at a cost, and if an event of that nature were to occur today, it may be a different outcome. While there is a story to the family who lived in the house it is not really made very accessible and the house lacks the intimacy of some other properties which have been in the hands of one family for several generations prior to being offerred to the Trust.
Personally I applaud and support the work of the National Trust, although I do also think that where there are stories to tell these should be brought to the fore and the visiting pubic made aware of them, as it is the human aspect of these buildings which is the most interesting. One way in which the NT is trying to make properties more accessible is through their programme of working with contemporary artists, and during 2012 Nymans Gardens in West Sussex is showing Unravelling… an exhibition of artistic interventions that draws out more of the human story behind the scenes at Nymans.
The Unravelling project is part of a 3 year programme of work with the NT. In 2013 The Vyne in Hampshire will be hosting an Unravelling exhibition and in 2014 it will be the turn of Uppark. I for one will be submitting a project proposal for both the forthcoming exhibitions, and regardless of whether I am accepted or not, I shall look forward to seeing the outcomes.