Beyond Limits – Part 3

The Good News:

Last year, for me, one the highlights of the Beyond Limits exhibition was this piece, Autumn Reflection, by Zadok Ben-David. From a distance it looked like a stylised tree, but on closer inspection we discovered that it was made entirely from small metal figures.

Autumn Reflection

So it was good news to discover that he has two pieces on display this year.

Innerscape on the Move
Zadok Ben-David

Innerscape on the Move I

An installation of some 40 figures, arranged in a a circle 11.5 metres in diameter. It had that same slightly magical quality that I loved in Autumn Reflection. As you can imagine, we lingered over this for some time, looking from different angles at the different figures.

Sunny Moon
by Zadok Ben-David

Sunny Moon

Very dramatic against the sky, but sadly the low sun put paid to a photograph showing that.

The Bad News:

We were not alone in being a little disappointed at missing out on some of the sculptures.

One sculpture in particular had featured on the local news, in the press and in all the publicity we saw for this exhibition: Planet by Marc Quinn. (Photo here). This giant baby was probably the one single piece that had generated the most interest, but as we drove towards the house, the sight of a very large crane made me feel slightly uneasy. I had checked the dates – we visited during the exhibition’s final week, on Tuesday 29th October, but the event was running until Sunday 2nd November. Surely they weren’t moving sculptures already?

Oh yes they were. The unmistakeable shape of the giant baby soon became visible on the back of a very long trailer. A sign at the entrance confirmed what we had already seen. When I got home, I checked the Chatsworth website and it did say that this sculpture was being removed (although why is anybody’s guess), but I’m certain that this information wasn’t there when I checked the exhibition dates on the site just before half term.

Not Quite As Expected


Now I have to say, the floating baby was not top of the list of things I wanted to see, but we encountered several very disappointed people whilst we were there; Mr TLC talked to one family who had made the trip especially so their daughter could see this particular sculpture.

Another sculpture by Ron Arad was missing, which I was disappointed about, although there was still one of his other works on display. Then we discovered that a third piece, Kloris, was being dismantled and moved. This was obviously easily portable, so I suspect it may be packed away each evening, but given that the gardens are open until six, to be well underway with the dismantling it by half past three seems more than a little premature.


Kloris, in part

Anyone planning to visit on Saturday would be even more disappointed: a small note on the Chatsworth site mentions that several sculptures will be covered all day in preparation for their Bonfire Night celebrations. I wonder how many people spotted that before setting out to visit?

This is the third year that we’ve visited this exhibition in its final week, but it’s the first time we’ve encountered any nasty surprises; previously the organisation has been excellent and we’ve always been wholehearted in recommending the event to other people.

Frankly I’m not impressed with the organisation this year. If something is widely advertised as being open to visitors, then I expect it to be completely open – not just a part of it. The whole approach here is very high handed; a kind of ‘be grateful for what you’re given’ attitude. We aren’t serfs, we are paying customers.

This despite the fact that Chatsworth do their best to wring every last penny out of their visitors. An example: would we like to gift-aid our entrance fee? At Chatsworth gift aid costs you extra! The fact that the extra is allegedly offset by a voucher for the shop doesn’t mean that visitors gain; this is simply a means of ensuring that they spend yet more money when they visit the aforementioned shop. Which is why the answer to the question about gift-aid was definitely ‘No thank you’ – we would not like to be ripped off. Which means of course that the Chatsworth trust actually loses out because it can’t get the tax back on our entrance fees. Tough luck – shouldn’t be so greedy!

I wonder how many people fall for this blatant con?

Overall we did enjoy our visit; the gardens were beautiful and we saw lots of fantastic sculptures. But I’d think twice before I went again. Frankly, the Chatsworth experience was not quite as advertised.

See all my posts from Beyond Limits 2008

All my pictures from the 2008 Beyond Limits exhibition are here. The 2007 pictures are here and 2006 is here.

Simon Stock, Deputy Director of Impressionist & Modern Art at Sotheby’s, presents a video showcasing some of the sculptures. It’s worth watching, but be quick – I don’t know how long it will stay on Sotheby’s site once the exhibition has finished.

Download a free (woohoo!) 16 page catalogue
containing pictures of all the sculptures with background information. A much thicker 196 page catalogue, complete with stunning photography, is available from Chatsworth – but that one would set you back £20.

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