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Castles, Follies and Elephants

Claire Harper, James & Oliver Perry, 2017

Five playful structures located in the grounds of Kielder Castle

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Castles, Follies and Elephants was a temporary installation in the grounds of Kielder Castle in 2017 that took the form of a series of sculptures realised as playful objects in the landscape. The project developed out of an historical study of the Kielder landscape and the economic, political, and physical shifts that have conspired to shape the landscape of the North Tyne valley.  As a uniquely unnatural wilderness, the Kielder landscape bears visibly the traces of the human actions and endeavours that have shaped it over centuries. Each of the five structures derived from a fragment of a buildings or other facility that had influenced the development of Kielder over ther past 1000 years including: Ancient defensive structures that signified the position of Kielder within the Border territories during long periods of conflict between England and Scotland. Kielder Castle as the Duke of Northumberland's hunting retreat, an early example of the valley being appropriated for leisure and recreation.  More recently Kielder as a productive landscape, characterised by large-scale afforestation and the flooding of the reservoir representing one of the last great works of post-war public infrastructure development.

Each object responded to and took advantage of the opportunities of its respective site, suggesting the different relationships that the historic activities undertaken in the valley had with the natural environment. For instance, 'Plug' captured the visible form of Kielder Water's valve tower, 'Fuel' imagined the negative form of one of the many drift mines that used to work in the area, and the ‘Defence'’ created an elevated look-out. 

Through these fragments - deliberately tactile, brightly coloured and human-scaled - visitors were  invited to engage with both the objects and the landscape in different ways.

In its own way, Castles, Follies and Elephants also addressed the way history is often made up of improbably linked elements and so the artwork invited us to imagine how many other narrative connections could be harnessed to tell the story of a single place.









Lewie Camp







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