...Haddon Hall, September 6-30, 2019
September 6 - 30, 2019
Opening: 6:00 - 8:00 pm on September 6
With the exhibition Oak Matters, art will fill the Great Chamber at Haddon Hall, the fortified
medieval manor house near Bakewell, Derbyshire, in the Peak District. Artist Jeannine Cook’s
contemporary metalpoint drawings pay homage to Haddon’s oak trees, and by extension to the oaks of
the world, mighty and endangered. To be shown alongside previously unseen early English oak carvings
from Lord and Lady Edward Manners’ private collection, Cook’s lustrous drawings in silver and gold
will reward the viewer with shimmering compositions inspired by her explorations of oak bark, leaves,
acorns and timbers.
Haddon has close links with oak. Nestled among majestic trees on a slope above the clear rippling
waters of the Wye, Haddon Hall’s Elizabethan terraced gardens lead to sloping green pastures dotted
with ashes, beeches, sycamores and ancient oak trees. The very sinews of the Hall itself are oak timbers.
Wherever one looks, the storied Tudor home offers up a celebration of oak: in its panelling, wide beams
and floor boards, furniture and its tapestries that feature oak trees and foliage.
The national tree of England, the Quercus genus plays an essential role in British life, bringing its
strength to constructions and its beauty to art and craft while playing a vital role as an environmental
keystone in the sustenance of countless plants, insects, reptiles, birds and mammals, including Homo
sapiens. While climate change and other factors have led to oaks being endangered in many parts of the
world, at Haddon the oaks are well loved and thrive in the ancient organic parkland.
Cook finds the subject matter for her art in a meditative dialogue with nature. As such, her artistic
communion with oak trees spurs her to share awareness of the vital role oaks play in our lives. Having
found such rich inspiration in her engagement with Quercus, it seems only fitting that her current show
should remind the viewer of the crucial necessity of stewardship of these majestic trees, an artistic
mission supported by the strength, grace and history of Haddon Hall, where the oak enjoys historical
pride of place.
Jeannine Cook’s chosen practice of metalpoint is a shimmering medium of great antiquity which uses
silver, gold or other styli to make the marks. Tanzanian by birth, European by heritage, British-
American by nationality, the artist is one of a hundred leading metalpoint specialists in the world, with
drawings in the permanent collections of the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert in London, the
National Museum of Women in the Arts at Washington, DC, and the Western Australian Museum in
Perth, Australia. Cook's drawings have been described as "very beautiful ... and even more beautiful
seen in the flesh" by Dr. Ana Debenedetti, curator at the Department of Painting at the V & A
Cook illuminates the secrets of nature, bringing a sustained observation to the smallest details of the
natural world. In her quest to give expression to the discreet surfaces of natural forms, Cook reveals in
her drawings hidden truths. Looking at her work, we are invited to take a close look and discover many
things, just as the artist has. Employing a venerable medium that is centuries old, her contemporary eye
gives us images cropped to become figurative abstractions, creating illuminations for our modern era.
At the opening on 6 September, Cook will speak about both her unusual artistic practice of
contemporary metalpoint and the future of oaks in the region and beyond. At a luncheon on 10
September the artist will give an illustrated talk on the history and technique of metalpoint drawing,
followed by children’s activities on 21-22 and 28-29 September. The Great Chamber at Haddon is open
daily from 10:30 to 5:00.
For Details of Haddon Hall, see their website
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