'Sean Scully: Smaller Than The Sky' at Houghton Hall, Norfolk, UK
24 April 2023
From 23 April to 29 October 2023, Sean Scully takes over the grounds and historic interiors of Houghton Hall in Norfolk for an exhibition that showcases the full range of the artist’s sculpture. In the Hall and Contemporary Gallery, the artist also shows a significant group of paintings and works on paper.
Houghton Hall was built in the 1720s for Britain’s first Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole, and the 2023 exhibition will showcase Sean Scully sculptures in a wide range of materials sited in the Palladian house and around the extensive formal gardens.
Several new works will be included in the exhibition including stacks made of sandstone, wood, glass and marble. The sculptures range in scale from small maquettes to monumental open structures in steel, such as Crate of Air, and a new Wall of Light sculpture, constructed from locally sourced limestone. The exhibition will be a showcase of Scully’s outdoor sculptures in dialogue with works in other media.
The exhibition will also include a selection of paintings and works on paper made over the past few years but with key reference to works from earlier in Scully’s career. These works will be displayed in the grand rooms of the house and in the North Colonnade and the Contemporary Gallery. Smaller Than The Sky is the latest edition of Houghton Hall’s celebrated series of contemporary exhibitions that have featured James Turrell (2015), Richard Long (2017), Damien Hirst (2018), Henry Moore (2019), Anish Kapoor (2020), Tony Cragg (2021), and Chris Levine (2021).
Sean Scully’s concern for the environment and his focus on nature is reflected in the title of the exhibition. An important component is his book, Endangered Sky, a collaboration with the poet Kelly Grovier, focusing on the plight of bird life, memorializing those already extinct and those which are close to it, which will be launched at Houghton and will be shown in vitrines as part of the exhibition.
The exhibition is curated by the art historian and museum director, Sean Rainbird, formerly Director of the National Gallery of Ireland (2012-2022) and a Senior Curator at Tate.
Sean Scully said: "England, as we’ve seen from the fabulous paintings by Constable, is a country very informed by sky. People talk about the sky all the time. They talk about the weather, or the clouds, the wet. So, it’s a source of inspiration. When you put sculptures outside, you are aware that the sky is illuminating them, and conditioning how they look. Whatever you put out there is always humbled by the bigness of the sky."
Lord Cholmondeley, owner of Houghton Hall, said: ''As a long-time admirer of Sean Scully's work, I feel extremely proud to be able to bring this major exhibition to Houghton. Scully's paintings and sculptures often evoke landscape and architecture, and will look sensational against the backdrop of the house.''
'Sean Scully: Smaller Than The Sky' runs until 29 October.
Images © Sean Scully. Photography by Peter Huggins