20 June – 1 November 2015
The first ever exhibition of contemporary art to be held at Horace Walpole's Gothic villa in Twickenham.
From the stone fretwork to the stained glass, Walpole was personally involved in the creation of every aspect of Strawberry Hill. He erected towers and battlements, designed elaborate patterns for the wall and ceilings and filled the house with antiquarian objects with the aim of creating an atmosphere of 'gloomth'. It had the desired effect – the property was used as source material for the first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto.
Sculptor Laura Ford has used Walpole's theatrical 18th-century villa as the inspiration for an intriguing series of work. Simultaneously entertaining and disturbing, her sculptures parallel its themes and eccentricities. Weeping Girls throw a tantrum in the Prior’s Garden, while a series of giant bronze cats pace through the grounds in various states of distress – a mirroring of Masaccio’s 15th-century fresco, The Expulsion from Eden. Meanwhile inside the house, further sculptures lurk in the shadows or peer down from bookcases, as if ghosts from Strawberry Hill's past.
Ford recreates Joshua Reynolds’ elegant portrait of The Ladies Waldegrave, which originally hung in the house. Only this time, the sculptor has reimagined the ladies as poodles.