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International artist's Ickworth work inspired by grandeur of neo-classical domed roof

PUBLISHED: 12:26 19 September 2019 | UPDATED: 16:07 19 September 2019

Ickworth, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. The central Rotunda was designed by the Italian architect Mario Asprucci and built between 1795 and 1830 for the 4th Earl of Bristol Picture: NATIONAL TRUST/ROBERT MORRIS

Ickworth, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. The central Rotunda was designed by the Italian architect Mario Asprucci and built between 1795 and 1830 for the 4th Earl of Bristol Picture: NATIONAL TRUST/ROBERT MORRIS

©National Trust Images/Robert Morris

The scaffolding that shrouds the iconic rotunda at National Trust's Ickworth House will provide a canvas for an internationally-renowned artist as part of a £5 million conservation project.

Distant view of the Rotunda seen across the park from the south at Ickworth, Suffolk Picture: NATIONAL TRUST/ANDREW BUTLERDistant view of the Rotunda seen across the park from the south at Ickworth, Suffolk Picture: NATIONAL TRUST/ANDREW BUTLER

Argentinian artist Pablo Bronstein and David Kohn Architects, based in London, are collaborating to create a new art installation inspired by the grandeur of the neo-classical domed roof, which will be re-tiled by a team of craftsmen.

This temporary 3D artwork, which will be installed this winter while the rotunda is covered in scaffolding, will offer visitors a different perspective of the more than 200-years-old Italianate-style building, near Bury St Edmunds.

The year-long conservation project at Ickworth is the biggest investment the National Trust has ever made there and is being funded thanks to the generosity of the charity's members, supporters and donors, together with significant grant funding.

It will also include work on the east link roof to prevent rainwater leaking in and protect the collection housed inside, the addition of lightning protection to the roof and reinforcement of the underground vaults.

Visitors stood by the 'Fury of Athamas' marble statue in the Inner Hall at Ickworth, Suffolk Picture: NATIONAL TRUST/ARNHEL DE SERRAVisitors stood by the 'Fury of Athamas' marble statue in the Inner Hall at Ickworth, Suffolk Picture: NATIONAL TRUST/ARNHEL DE SERRA

Mr Bronstein is known for his imaginative, classically-inspired work which ranges from drawing to choreography, with a focus on architecture often with reference to Baroque style, and has worked with Tate Britain and Sadler's Wells.

He said: "It has been a real pleasure for David Kohn and I to work with the National Trust during their conservation of Ickworth, one of the most startling and eccentric buildings in England, and one of the trust's most remarkable and best-loved properties.

"It is a privilege to be here at a unique moment in its history, when it ceases being a large oval and becomes momentarily a giant scaffolded square.

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"Our installation will be both provocative and serious, in that it seeks to transform a temporary structure into an image of architecture that speaks to history and the importance of the classical tradition.

"David and I share a deep interest in classical architecture and hope our installation will both raise a smile and open up a debate about the nature of taste and style within contemporary practice."

Throughout its history, the display and curation of artwork has been at the heart of Ickworth with its creator, the fourth Earl of Bristol, also known as the Earl Bishop, intending the building to be used to house the family collection.

Tim Watson, general manager at Ickworth, said: "Ickworth has always been a home for great art and the Earl Bishop held a vision that it should act as a gallery for pieces that had been collected from around the world.

The Rotunda at Ickworth lit up at night for a special opening during the outdoor cinema event 'Stately Screening' sponsored by Sky and in association with BAFTA and Screen East Picture: NATIONAL TRUST/ARNHEL DE SERRAThe Rotunda at Ickworth lit up at night for a special opening during the outdoor cinema event 'Stately Screening' sponsored by Sky and in association with BAFTA and Screen East Picture: NATIONAL TRUST/ARNHEL DE SERRA

"Today, Ickworth houses some impressive works by artists such as Titian and Gainsborough, and so as we begin a major project that will temporarily alter the external view of Ickworth, it felt natural to turn to a contemporary artist to help visitors experience these changes outside in a visually exciting way.

"Pablo Bronstein is an internationally-recognised artist and we are thrilled to be working with him and David Kohn as they draw inspiration from Ickworth's classical architecture."

The artwork has been commissioned through the Trust New Art programme, which sees contemporary art opportunities brought to National Trust places all over the country, and has been made possible thanks to a £30,000 grant from Arts Council England.

A further grant of £85,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund will see an additional new experience created inside the rotunda focused on the collection, meaning visitors will see the building in new ways, both inside and out, during the conservation work.

EDITORIAL USE ONLY Joelle Packer-Hall, a Bloomberg member of Staff at the new contemporary art installation entitled EDITORIAL USE ONLY Joelle Packer-Hall, a Bloomberg member of Staff at the new contemporary art installation entitled "London In Its Original Splendour" by Pablo Bronstein opens at the London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE. PRESS ASSOCIATION. Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 13, 2018. Visitors to the London Mithraeum can enjoy the free immersive experience of the Roman Temple of Mithras from the 3rd Century alongside the collection of Roman artefacts found during the building excavations. Picture: Anthony Upton/PA Wire

Work to construct the rotunda's scaffolding, which will be in place for more than six months, is underway.

For further information on the project see here.

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