Project to celebrate 200 years of Constable's most famous Suffolk painting

Visitors comparing Constable's paintings to the scene at Flatford, Suffolk.

Visitors comparing Constable's painting to the scene today at Flatford - Credit: ©NTPL/Arnhel de Serra

Two artists have been chosen to create a special art installation this summer to celebrate the 200th anniversary of one England's most famous and best-loved paintings.

The project at the National Trust’s Flatford in Suffolk will honour ‘The Hay Wain’ by renowned landscape artist John Constable.

The painting made Flatford world famous and still draws tens of thousands of visitors each year to see where it was painted and enjoy the idyllic Suffolk countryside and the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where Constable spent his childhood and early life.

Willy Lott's house at Flatford Mill next to the Mill Pond

Willy Lott's house at Flatford Mill next to the Mill Pond - the scene of Constable's Hay Wain painting and virtually unchanged since 1821 - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Painted in 1821, ‘The Hay Wain’ shows the millpond at Flatford on the River Stour, capturing early 19th century rural life.

To mark the bicentenary of the painting, the National Trust is working partnership with Essex Cultural Diversity Project and has commissioned a creative project to celebrate the anniversary and connect visitors with Constable and the Dedham Vale countryside.

Artist Liz Harrington creating a piece of work

Artist Liz Harrington creating a piece of work - Credit: Liz Harrington


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Laurence Harding and Liz Harrington, photographic artists specialising in experimental and historic photography processes, have been chosen to work at Flatford to create an immersive and interactive installation that explores the parallels between photography and painting and celebrate the idyllic views that inspired Constable.

The piece will evolve over the summer and be made up of floor-to-ceiling cyanotype (a photographic printing process that produces cyan-blue prints) panels inspired by the landscape, photographs taken using pinhole cameras and smaller pieces created using a range of other historical and experimental photographic techniques.

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Visitors and local community groups will be able to participate in the creation of the final piece, working with the artists at pop-up workshops to have a go at photographic techniques.

Artist Laurence Harding works on a cyanotype

Artist Laurence Harding works on a cyanotype - Credit: Laurence Harding

Simon Peachey, Welcome Manager at Flatford, said the project organisers had been impressed with the idea of celebrating the Hay Wain through the use of sustainable photographic techniques.

He said: "In addition, their enthusiasm to share their work with visitors and engage new audiences should ensure that as many people as possible discover more about The Hay Wain”.

The artists, Laurence and Liz said: "We are really looking forward to working with the ECDP and National Trust over the next few months, as well as engaging with visitors to the site, offering an alternative way to interact with Constable’s work and the location in an accessible, fun and creative way.”

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