Lincolnshire, UK, 2019
This design for a new gallery at Grimsthorpe Castle, to show works by Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon and others, enters into a dialogue with Vanbrugh’s masterful building. The gallery’s circular form is suggestive of an 18th century landscape folly, with a hint of the mock-fortifications that Vanbrugh (a former soldier & playwright) designed for country estates.
Four tall top-lit gallery spaces rise from within an encircling drum of stone. Suggestive of turrets and towers, the ensemble recalls historic drawings of walled ‘ideal cities’. The segment removed from the circular plan creates an intimate ‘quadrangle’ with the existing estate yard buildings, overlooked by the proposed study centre in the new gallery.
The scale of the galleries is suggestive of spaces found in grand 18th century houses: appropriate to the size & figurative nature of the artworks on display. Aided by a system of movable walls, the design creates hanging space for pictures that allows intense focus on each work, & enables curators to establish dialogue between works across space. Whilst the main geometry of the building relates to the wider landscape, and the entrance relates to the estate yard, the galleries within are skewed to address the castle, enabling visitors to understand the relationship between the artworks and the home of their collector.
Vanbrugh is sometimes described as a ‘Storyteller in Stone’. From the castle, our proposed building resembles a kind of ‘horned-devil’: appropriate perhaps for a gallery displaying the work of Freud & Bacon.