After visiting the Red House we walked back to the car which was parked at nearby Danson Park (about a mile away). Danson Park was once the country estate of one Sir John Boyd who made his fortune in sugar and slaves; and to flaunt his wealth and gain access to polite society of the day he commissioned the architect Sir Robert Taylor to design and build him a country villa. Danson House was the result and today is a beautiful mellow yellow Georgian villa built in the Palladian style. It belongs to Bexleyheath Borough Council and is open to the public and available for hire for weddings and functions.
The rooms open to the public have been painstakingly restored by English Heritage who stepped in in 1995 after the house almost fell down due to years of neglect. Fortunately EH were able to make use of some watercolour sketches by John Boyd’s wife, Mary which depict the house interior at the time it was first built. It was certainly a show piece – full of guilding, mirrors and huge allegorical paintings. So ostentatious was the house and it’s contents that the room steward desccribed the Boyd’s as being the “Posh and Becks” of their day!
Upstairs the rooms are empty and used for various functions and exhibitions. When we visited there were two exhibitions showing; one was a solo ‘Intervention’ which took over a single room covering the walls with detailed and beautifully drawn cartoon-style images telling the story of William Morrisman – Art and Design Super Hero. Morrisman (a fgure who bears a striking resemblence to Spiderman) does battle through a narrative series of drawings against two evil female furniture forms. Naturally Morrisman truimphs but there are inevitably questions raised about design and perceived good taste.
The second exhibition is a Crafts Council Touring show The Yellow Wallpaper, developed by the Crafts Council in partnership with Danson House and curated by contemporary artist Tom Gallant.
Inspired by Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s gothic novella The Yellow Wallpaper, Gallant has selected quotes from this story to guide the visitor through a visual feast of photography, animation, digital art, papercut sculpture, furniture and film, all of which have inspired the making of one of his own works, Dress 09. Acquired for the Crafts Council Collection in 2011, this beautiful piece, created in collaboration with fashion designer Marios Schwab, is on display.