In the Chatsworth Garden in Derbyshire in September, visitors from around the world are gathering on the side of the hedge on the main road, curiously looking at a new and strange landscape that is emerging on the south lawn in the Chatsworth Garden. From a distance, it seems that using a variety of natural rocks to form two overlapped half circles revolving around the pond where the “Seahorse fountain” was originally located. Looking closely, these rocks are in various shapes, being up and down, just like entering a Chinese landscape painting, plants are growing at the foot of the mountains, peaches are blossoming, covered in mist, more than one thousand specially-made ceramic houses, animals, characters are laid in them, along with areas of farmland orderly arranged in front of and behind the houses. In addition to the islands, water lilies, fish are embellished in the water, as well as creating a sparkling reflection, together they constitute an unusually lively and self-contained micro world in which people seem to dwell and travel, reminiscent of the Chinese fable “Tao Hua Yuan” (“Peach Blossom Spring”).
This is the very installation “Tao Hua Yuan: A Lost Utopia Village” by artist Xu Bing. It was presented at Victoria & Albert Museum in London last year, so this is the second show of “Tao Hua Yuan” reappearing in Chatsworth Garden, invited by Sothebys, to be an important work as part of the Beyond Limits monumental sculpture exhibition at Chatsworth. Annually held by Sothebys in Chatsworth, Beyond Limits monumental sculpture exhibition is the most influential one in the world’s outdoor exhibitions of sculpture and installation, and it is the 9th session of the year. “Tao Hua Yuan” is published in the exhibition catalog and the cover of Sotheby’s magazine. In addition to the masterpieces by modern and contemporary masters such as Aristide Maillol, Giacomo Manzu, Marc Quinn and Christopher Le Brun are on display. Located between the well-known contemporary art, “Tao Hua Yuan” is difficult to be classified as any known type seems to be very special.
In order to reproduce the lost utopia “Tao Hua Yuan”, Chatsworth Garden specially offers the artist the pond which is located in the centre and the 300-year-old “Seahorse fountain” was removed for restoration. The South lawn in the Chatsworth Garden is the private territory of the Dukes which was initially opened to the public, so that the public can closely view the work. While the work was presented at the V & A Museum, located in the centre of London, the surrounding environment highlighted the contrast between nature and industrial civilization, while it is placed in Chatsworth, firstly built in 1552, a representative of the classic European gardens, compared with the neat European geometric garden, the natural shape of the work, as well as its resulting tension not only highlights the differences between the Eastern and Western beautiful locations, it even builds up a dialogue about the human ideal living place between different civilizations.
On September 4, Xu Bing came to Chatsworth house to attend the press conference, interviewed by more than 30 media representatives such as Wall Street Journal, The Daily Telegraph, and CNN, and he was hospitably received by the 12th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip previously appreciated the work in advance during an official visit to Chatsworth in early July. Following the visit to Buckingham Palace, Chatsworth House and Garden, appeared in the film “Pride and Prejudice” which has been the second choice for Chinese tourists as a must visit location, since the artist’s “Tao Hua Yuan” was unveiled, it is fiercely loved with continuous audiences and the local residents visiting it, and it is a new reason for visiting Chatsworth House and Garden. It will continue to October 26.
Text by Yuan Yuan from Chatsworth
Translated by Chen Peihua and edited by Sue/CAFA ART INFO