Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024

Art will challenge you, ask questions and generates new ideas in how you think.  As you navigate through life, art allows you to stop, think and take in your surroundings.  By asking questions, artwork provokes you to provide an answer to what you see before you.  However, there are no right or wrong answers and you must be content with your own interpretation of what you see.  Opening yourself up to the art before you, leads to increased creativity. In my photography, such opportunities lead to different inventive approaches to composing my pictures.  

Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
A cast iron sculpture with Houghton Hall in the background.
Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
Statues in the ground in sync with the datum statue inside the Hall

Antony Gormley is an artist whose work will challenge you and ask such questions.  His metallic sculptures are modelled on his own human form and have been installed in several locations. The Angel of the North near Newcastle and the statues from “Another Place” on Crosby beach are probably his most recognisable installations.  The statue that I encounter when visiting Birmingham is Iron:man in Victoria Square.  The backwards and slightly tilted to the side cast iron figure watches over people who pass by on their way through the Square.  I have photographed iron:man throughout the years.  Another work that I often visit in London is “reflection” near to Euston Station.  In 2015, one of his statues was placed at the locks opposite the Lengthman’s Cottage, Lowsonford, Warwickshire.  This was on the occasion to celebrate 50 years of the Landmark Trust.  I do enjoy his artwork so when I learned that the art installation Time Horizon was coming to Houghton Hall in Norfolk then I knew I had to visit.

Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
Many of the statues were placed in the adjacent parkland.
https://www.antonygormley.com/works/exhibitions/time-horizon-houghton
Under the trees

Fortunately I have an old school friend who lives in Norwich and I availed myself on his hospitality as a base to visiting Norfolk.  Photographing Norwich is in a separate blog and shows the picturesque area around the Cathedral.  Either day or night the place has much to see and photograph.

Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
Statue with shadow

Arriving at Houghton Hall, I found that there was a queue to enter the property. In my nativity, I had wrongly assumed that not many people would be there.  As I waited around 20 mins to enter the carpark I now knew how popular this exhibit was.  Several of the statues were visible around the entrance and this only served to increase my anticipation about the visit.  The car park attendant told me that I had brought the weather with me and advised that I went to see the walled garden first before embarking on the rest of the sights.  This was good advice as the flower displays and the setting of the walled gardens was thrilling to behold.  There were two of Antony Gormley’s statues in the walled garden set on pedestals overlooking everyone.  

Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
Three ladies in red hats.

There are several areas of Houghton Hall to access and you are guided initially from the walled garden through the Stables to the Hall.  It is here that you start to encounter more of the cast iron figures many of whom are set into the ground.  Their presence is at first interesting and then as you encounter more of the cast iron figures, you begin to ask more questions about how the statues are set up.  Some are facing the Hall, whilst others have their back to the buildings.  Why are some figures buried to the neck whilst others are more exposed.  This last question is answered by the lay of the land as each figure is at the same level with the datum statue. Within the house there is one solitary figure which is buried to the hips.  This statue is the datum which is used to create a single horizontal plane across the landscape.  I found this difficult to comprehend as I took so many pictures of the statues and tried to understand the horizontal level across all 100 sculptures.  On my wanderings around the grounds, one person stopped me and asked why are the figures facing different ways.  He was perplexed by this feature of the installation.  I also noticed that people were fascinated with the details of the body and pictures of either the appendages or the buttocks were very popular with the visitors.  I took several pictures of the front and behind of the statues to work out what was the fascination.  See if you can guess why.

Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
Deconstructed sculpture

I walked many steps and took in as many of the sculptures that I could find.  Photographing them was fun as I attempted to capture them in their surroundings and bring the natural environment where they are placed into play.  Interactions with people was high on my list of photographs to take. This was a form of street photography where you could juxtaposition people with the surroundings.  The beautiful surroundings brought out the best in the installation and I enjoyed the contrasts between the carefully manicured lawns of the estate to the woodlands where the sculptures were in a natural woodland setting.  

Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
Head above ground
Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
Central to the horizon
Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
Black and white
Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
In the woods
Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
Looking down at the datum point statue.
Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
Details and markings from visiting birds.
Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
The Hall and Gardens covers 300 acres.
Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
Juxtaposition
Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
Taking a break

There were many other installations present and I particularly liked the Waterflame by Jeppe Hein in the walled garden and the Axis of the World by Claudio Parmiggiani.  However there were countless others that are set into pleasing surroundings around the Hall and Gardens.

Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
Viewing the Axis of the World

Soon I became saturated with what I had seen and the urge to take any more photographs disappeared.  There was a long drive home but I was pleased that I had seen the “Time Horizon” and looked forward to processing all my photographs.  I hope you like my selection.  

Time Horizon, Anthony Gormley, Houghton Hall, June 2024
Selfie

Here is the official site with details of the Time Horizon.

In this blog of Lockmaster’s cottages on the canals near me, the final picture shows the Antony Gormley statue celebrating the anniversary of the Landmark Trust.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023

Birmingham Botanical Gardens have been an important part of my life in Birmingham. I have attended many student balls and other celebratory events at the Hospitality suites. When I was President of the BSSPD Dental society I held my annual dinner at the Botanical Gardens during Spring 2013. The after dinner speaker that evening was Birmingham’s very own Don Maclean. We held our pre-dinner drinks on the London Terrace. Other memories include attending the Luminate night time light show during a previous Instameet. However I have not taken the opportunity to view the gardens in more detail. Therefore, I was so pleased that IgersbirminghamUK approached the Botanical Gardens to arrange a photographic Instameet. The Gardens were very enthusiastic about the idea and we agreed to visit in the Autumn when the leaves would be turning colour.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Exotic flowers in the GlassHouses
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Koi carp pretending to be the Meg.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
The architecture of the Glasshouses

We arranged to meet on a glorious Saturday Remembrance Day morning. There was a good number of IgersbirminghamUK photographers attending the meeting and our first duty of the day was to observe a minute’s silence at 11 o’clock. We then entered the gardens and met Sara the CEO. Sara was so welcoming and enthusiastic about the Botanical Gardens. She gave us an introduction to the charity and then outlined the future vision for the Gardens. There are exciting and ambitious plans to remodel the site. Sara showed maps and plans of what would be done over the coming two to three years.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Sara, the CEO, pictured in the Glasshouse.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Details in the glass house.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
The London Terrace
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
The beauty of Autumn.

IgersbirminghamUK instameets begin with an introduction and a group photograph. Once this is completed then we are free to go out and explore the gardens. I always get caught up with talking with other Igers photographers and forget to take the photographs. Catching up with people is part of the social activity of an Instameet. The glasshouses is the first area that you encounter when entering the gardens. I spent time photographing the beautiful Koi carp in the fountain area. The narrow corridors and the layout of the plants make this area very attractive and bring you close to the plants. I forgot to capture the beautiful circular window onto the gardens but many others did not. This is one of many reasons why I will return as there are so many different features to see and photograph. Leaving the glasshouses, I had an audience with the residents of the Terrace aviary. The birds were very talkative. You get pulled along when visiting the gardens and the London Terrace naturally guides you along with its wide embracing veranda and views. Here you have to stop and take in the beauty of the scene. The rolling bank of the lawn leads your gaze out to the Lawn Aviary and the Band stand. The sunlight was bright and lit up several trees whose leaves were turning a golden brown. The light captured and intensified the colours. I found myself stuck in the area around the bandstand just taking photographs of the scene unfolding before me.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
The bandstand.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Leaves everywhere.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Details at the Aviary.

I looked at my watch and realised that I had only seen a small part of the Gardens. I needed to move on. The Lawn Aviary is one of the buildings that will receive a major make over and the architectural design is captivating. I look forward to when it is receives an upgrade. Walking thought the Aviary, I dropped down the bank to Wilson Walk and came across the Urban garden area. Whilst this area requires renovation, for a photographer the place was full of strong shadows and light. There is some neglect and overgrowth of the plants and this appeals to my photographic eye. Another area where I found time slowed down for me was the Rock Garden and Memory pool. Water always creates reflections and the Rock pool offered many different views. Walking back via the colourful Acer trees was a treat and I slowly realised that I had done a full circle as I arrived back at the London Terrace. After browsing through the shop and stopping to say thank yous, my final pictures were of the entrance arches. I am unsure whether these will still be around after the renovation and I took several pictures of them against the sun to create diffraction effects with the light.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
A door in the shadows.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Reflections in the Rock Pool.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
Details on the bandstand.

Time to go back home and process all the pictures that I had taken. A big thank you to Birmingham Botanical Gardens for allowing us to visit. These are my pictures of the event and there were some fantastic photographs from other members on the Instameet. The way to find these photographs is to follow the hashtag #igbuk_meet_botanical on Instagram. You may need to delve into individual photographers’ accounts to see more pictures due to the nature of the dreaded Instagram algorithm. You will be rewarded with some beautiful views of the gardens.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, November 2023
The entrance arches to the Botanical Gardens.

The IgersbirminghamUK team have visited other sites and places and you may wish to follow the links below to see what takes place during our meetings. You are most welcome to attend our Instameets.

These are some of my blogs on our visits to other sites around Birmingham with the IgersbirminghamUK team.

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With the long summer nights upon us, the IgersbirminghamUK team came up with the idea for a photowalk that started…

Martineau Gardens, Edgbaston, IgersbirminghamUK, April

There is a hidden gem close to Birmingham city centre and must be ranked as one of the places to visit.  Martineau Gardens is a beautiful community garden just off Priory Road in the middle of Edgbaston.  After getting off the 61/63 bus that leaves the city, cross the Bristol Road and make your way up the hill on Priory Road.  After a short walk, Martineau Gardens is on your right.  There is a wooden entrance hut that leads you into two and a half acres of beautiful gardens.  Martineau is a mixture of traditional gardens and a woodland towards the back of the property.  The hub of the gardens is the Pavilion, so named, as there were originally tennis courts here as part of the land.  The building, which will be renovated in the coming year, is a welcoming centre for the gardens.  There is the opportunity to sit out on the table and chairs and share a cuppa with the volunteers and other visitors. 

Martineau Gardens, Edgbaston, IgersbirminghamUK, April
Nine iPhone pictures from IgersbirminghamUK Instameet

IgersbirminghamUK run Instameets where we invite local photographers to a venue.  We tag our pictures and share them both on Instagram and also with the venue who kindly allowed us to photograph their property.  At the start of the meeting, we were met by Jenni Fyer, CEO of Martineau Gardens who gave us an introduction to the gardens.  Jenni outlined the history of the place where it was once used by teachers to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.  Now it is a community garden and is maintained by volunteers.  The gardens pride themselves on being a therapeutic environment of organically maintained land, close to the city centre.  The environment helps the community and supports people from different backgrounds especially those with various special needs. Jenni invited us to roam around the gardens, which were just waking up from the winter months, to take as many photographs as possible and then to join her and the volunteers for a cuppa at the Pavilion.  After the obligatory group photograph of the IgersbirminghamUK participants, we were then left free to wander around the grounds. 


I do love Instameets as it is a chance to catch up with old friends.  Therefore there was much chatting with people before the real business of the visit; the photographing began.  I made my way to the entrance and then into the formal gardens.  There were spring flowers around and the buds were only just appearing on the trees.  Next was the herb garden and the orchard.  The sun was out making shadow play on the greenhouse glass and the wood of the garden huts. The shipwreck play area looked fun, and a mental note was made to bring my grandchildren back to see the place.  Whilst the wildflower area was not yet up and running, I enjoyed taking pictures of the wheelbarrows, watering cans and the potted flowers.  I then moved onto the woodland walk and was immediately surrounded by tall trees and foliage.  

Martineau Gardens, Edgbaston, IgersbirminghamUK, April
Peaceful scene
Martineau Gardens, Edgbaston, IgersbirminghamUK, April
Cacti in the greenhouse.
Martineau Gardens, Edgbaston, IgersbirminghamUK, April
Butterflies and Robins.
Martineau Gardens, Edgbaston, IgersbirminghamUK, April
Apple orchard

This part of the gardens is Designated a Site of Local Importance for Nature Conservation (SLINC).  Jenni Fryer had mentioned that this area is teaming with wildlife and is a welcome green corridor amongst the urban conurbation that surrounds the gardens. There was a pond that looked a great place for dragon and damsel flies over the summer months.  Next along the path was a Sacred Circle for meeting on a common ground and then a collection of beehives.  There was much activity in the hives so I did not get too close!  I slowly wandered back as I found myself content just strolling through the gardens.  There was the occasional sound of tennis balls against rackets as we were neighbouring onto the Edgbaston Priory Tennis Club but otherwise you could lose yourself in the environment.

Upon returning to the Pavilion, one of the volunteers made me a lovely cuppa.  Then there was time to chat talking about the photography and the gardens.  Before saying my goodbyes, I purchased some apple and mango chutney from the shop. Something to remind me of the visit later.

Martineau Gardens, Edgbaston, IgersbirminghamUK, April
Jars of Apple and Melon Chutney and Honey available to purchase.

I started off this blog saying that this is a hidden gem.  It is no longer hidden to me and this will be a place to visit in the future with the family. Martineau Gardens is a place to visit to meditate, to unwind and let the stresses of life fall away.  There is so much to enjoy and see.  


Finally thank you to all the volunteers and staff and thanks to Jenni Fryer for welcoming us and to Sarah Hill-Daniel at the gardens for arranging the date and timing of the IgersbirminghamUK visit.

Please follow these tags on Instagram to see more photographs by the talented people @IgersbirminghamUK.
#martineaugardens
#igersuk_meet_martineau

Martineau Gardens, Edgbaston, IgersbirminghamUK, April
Dammodammo (picture by Jack Babington)

If you wish to discover more about the gardens then please visit the Martineau Gardens Website. There is also an informative leaflet plus map of the gardens.

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With the long summer nights upon us, the IgersbirminghamUK team came up with the idea for a photowalk that started…

It is a while since we visited Kenilworth Castle. Taking a chance on the weather we went for a visit. It was a windy day and the grandchildren are good to start with but then got fractious. So as an amateur photographer you have to adapt to the conditions and the emotions of the day. I got some good pictures of the family running around the castle grounds before they went in for a coffee. It gave me the chance to explore the new attraction at the castle, Leicester’s Tower. English Heritage have built a staircase and viewing platforms on each floor in the tower. They platforms provide excellent views of the castle and the surrounding Warwickshire countryside. I will return when the weather improves and linger for more shots in the Elizabethan garden and the grounds.

Framing of Leicester’s Gatehouse
View from Leicester’s Tower
The fun of running in the Elizabethan Garden
Run, Lily, Run
Family portrait
A cheeky picture to end

Situated at the University of Birmingham, Winterbourne House is well worth a visit. Here are a few pictures from my recent trip there with the family. Lots of colour in the summer and next time we will remember to take our picnic hamper with us.