What To Do With A ‘Stately Home’ In Britain?


By Katy PrickettBBC News, Hertfordshire

Liam Bononi A close-up of an artist's impression by Liam Bononi of Ashridge House with a woman's figure and a glass carafeLiam Bononi

Contemporary artist Liam Bononi, known for creating hyper-realistic portraits, is one of 20 creating bespoke works for Ashridge House

A Grade I-listed house showcasing street art by at least 20 artists hopes it will attract “people who might not ordinarily visit a stately home or garden”.

The works, by creatives such as Liam Bononi, WRDSMTH and Curtis Hylton, will go on display across 190 acres of the Grade II-listed gardens surrounding Ashridge House, near Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, in August.

Artists were asked to use the property’s history as inspiration and “take something off on to their own path”, said marketing director Lucy Le Gassicke.

The transformation of the grounds is a collaboration with street art festival Upfest.

grey placeholderAshridge House A castellated stone manor house against a blue sky with yew trees, box hedging and pink flowers in front, Ashridge House Ashridge House

Originally a monastery, Ashridge House became a royal residence for both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, and a private house and military hospital during both world wars

“We hope to invite people in who might not ordinarily visit a stately home or garden and give them a reason to visit, as well as attract back people who know and love us,” said Mrs Le Gassicke.

“We’ve got 20 artists lined up and every one has blown us away with the quality of art.

“Each one of them will bring a different angle and style, with some specialising in nature and others a bit more traditional urban art.”

Last summer, the property dipped its toe into the world of art with a sculpture trail, which attracted about 10,000 visitors.

This year “we wanted to push the envelope a bit more and do something a bit unexpected” that “might be a first for a house like us”, said Mrs Le Gassicke.

grey placeholderAshridge House Aerial view of Ashridge HouseAshridge House

The Grade I-listed building currently houses a business school and is also an events and wedding venue

The artworks will be “about the size of a van”, she added.

The property has collaborated with Bristol-based Upfest, which began in 2008 and now showcases 400 artists.

“When you think of a beautiful country garden and a Grade I-listed building, street art is the last thing that springs to mind – but that’s what we love about it,” said Upfest co-founder, Stephen Hayles.

Upfest Art House opens on 4 August and runs until 15 September.

grey placeholderAshridge House Pink, purple and red rhododendron blossoms at Ashridge HouseAshridge House

Ashridge House head gardener Zora Tyrene is hoping visitors following the street art trail will discover parts of the garden that are usually little explored



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