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Chinese artist given pride of place at Chatsworth

2014-08-10 15:17:17

(China Daily) By Anita Singh


Chatsworth's Sea Horse fountain has been replaced temporarily by a sculpture by Xu Bing Photo: Michael Smith/Guzelian

Chatsworth's famous Sea Horse Fountain is to be replaced temporarily by Chinese artist Xu Bing's fantasy sculpture.

The classic vista of Chatsworth will appear very different this summer as one of its best known landmarks is replaced by a work of Chinese contemporary art.

The Sea Horse Fountain has graced the South Lawn of the Derbyshire stately home, seat of the Duke of Devonshire, for more than 300 years.

In need of restoration work, it has been removed for the first time in its history and in its place visitors will see Tao Hua Yuan: A Lost Village Utopia, a sculpture by the Chinese artist Xu Bing.

The multi-media installation appears at first glance to be a natural rock formation around the pond. However, hidden in the crevices are tiny details: exotic plants and tiny model villages filled with ceramic figures.

The award-winning artist was inspired by a fifth century Chinese fable, Tao Hua Yuan (Peach Blossom Spring) written by the scholar Tao Qian about the discovery of an ethereal utopia where people live in harmony with nature.

It has been designed "to bring Chinese ink painting to life in a three-dimensional sensory experience", Xu Bing said. The "mountainscape" is made up of stones taken from five regions of China, while mist and lighting effects will transform the work at night.

The sculpture is a centerpiece of the Sotheby's Beyond Limits sculpture exhibition that takes place each year at Chatsworth.

It will be the first time that the South Lawn has been opened to the public.

The exhibition runs from Sept 8 - Oct 26. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will have the opportunity to preview Xu Bing's sculpture this Thursday, when they pay an official visit to Chatsworth.

The choice of a Chinese artist for such a prominent position in the exhibition is likely to prove popular with paying visitors.

Chatsworth is second only to Buckingham Palace as the destination of choice for Chinese tourists, according to a poll conducted earlier this year by Visit Britain.

The result is a good one for Derbyshire, as visitors from China spend on average four times more than tourists from other countries.

The appeal of the historic house and its gardens was boosted in China, as elsewhere, by its use as a location in the Keira Knightley film version of Pride and Prejudice.

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