Literal Cover Up
Visitors hoping to admire Lord William Armstrong’s celebrated collection at a National Trust exhibition were furious to find ‘room after room’ of artwork covered with white sheets.
The trust, which owns his Lordship’s former home of Cragside, covered up paintings and sculptures depicting men to highlight the ‘lack of female representation in art’.
It meant visitors who had paid up to £49 to view the famous collection found almost half of the paintings hidden behind white sheets, while sculptures of men had bags placed over their heads.
One said: ‘It was ridiculous. Whole corridors and room after room were completely covered.’
It was so unpopular that staff reportedly had to empty the visitor comments box three times a day because it was overflowing with complaints.
The trust initially defended the ‘thought-provoking exhibition’ but later admitted: ‘Sometimes it doesn’t work as we intended.’
CHIMES COMPLAINT TO NATIONAL TRUST
Dear Sir/ Madam
As a life member, I am absolutely appalled by the report of covering up art at Cragside because the creators were male.
Who on Earth thought that was ever a good idea? I would have hoped the NT was above identity politics and misandric behaviour that has become all too prevalent in many areas of life.
REPLY FROM NATIONAL TRUST
Thank you for your email.
Thank you for your email and for raising your concerns about our recent exhibition at Cragside.
As part of this year’s national programming ‘Women and Power’, which marks the centenary of some women being awarded the right of the vote, we are highlighting the history and important stories of the women who shaped the properties now in our care. The exhibition ‘The Great Cragside Cover up’ was a continuation of this programming, created by students from Newcastle University. The exhibition saw a small number of statues and portraits of men covered to help shine a light on the women who shaped Lord Armstrong’s work and home.
This temporary student exhibition (which ran from 13 October until 5 November) was not about censoring art or being politically correct, but to encourage people to look at the collection differently and to stimulate debate. We know it is not unusual for some people to dislike or disagree with what they see in contemporary art. We’re glad that our members and visitors have had the opportunity to debate this exhibition and to feed back their thoughts, which shows that our exhibition has been successful in drawing attention to the way our collections are presented and for highlighting the history of this important property.
We are always looking at ways in which we can bring the history and stories of our places to life for visitors and your feedback about the exhibition will help inform and shape our plans.
Conservation remains at the heart of what we do and thanks to the support of our members and donors, we are spending more than ever before on conservation work. Part of conservation, however, involves understanding and communicating why these places are important to protect so that future generations will continue to care for them.
I hope this is helpful and thank you for your support.
NAME REMOVED BY CHIMES
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