A collaborative site-specific installation inspired by the history of Orleans House.
. Bethe Bronson . Laura Marker .
Orleans House Stables Gallery . 11 Th May – 4th June 2017
Site responsive installation created in collaboration with artist Bethe Bronson
In the past, Orleans House was known as an idyllic country retreat; worlds away from the hustle
and bustle of the big city. A cool, flowing river provides a pastoral setting, where horses and boats
provide the main way in or out.
Designed by architect John James, Orleans house was built 1710. The Octagon room (designed
by James Gibbs) was added later in the eighteenth-century as part of a series of modernisations
and improvements made throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In 1926 the house was purchased by gravel merchants, leading to the demolition of the main
house, whilst the once spectacular gardens fell into a gradual state of disrepair. Against all odds,
the Octagon, and stables remain to this day, hinting at a building lost to time and a way of life that
has long gone.
This “lost world” has been captured in countless paintings over the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries, such as Johan Dietzsch's Orleans House c.1750 and William Marlow's The Thames
Looking Towards Richmond Hill c.1800. 1 The paintings present the house and environs as a
dreamscape, with lush vegetation, spectacular lighting, vivid colours and miniaturised tableaux
depicting people and animals, bringing the images to life.
Equine Idyll responds to the rich visual history of Orleans House and nearby riverside locations,
integrating material that has been specifically filmed and photographed in the local area, for the
exhibition. These contemporary observations draw upon characteristics from local historic
documents, seeking to incorporate elements from these paintings, prints and drawings, such as
colour and lighting, brush strokes and composition and key features such as riverside wildlife,
horses, and the river.
Utilising a mixture of contemporary digital, and low-tech moving-image techniques, the work is
inspired and informed by technologies that evolved during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
(such as “phantasmagoria” magic lantern shows, parlor amusements and the sequence images of
Eadweard Muybridge, and stop-frame techniques), The result will harken back to the late
Eighteenth, early Nineteenth century and the heydey of Orleans House, giving the impression that
a lost world has been momentarily recovered.