Running a stately home is a lot of work – you only have to watch shows like Downton Abbey to see why. (note: I have never watched Downton Abbey.) Organisations like The National Trust spend millions every year to keep their properties going. Not all houses are lucky enough to have someone maintain them and some have fallen into disrepair or been demolished.
With this in mind, artist Kate Lycett has painted a series of pieces called the Lost Houses of the South Pennines, which has gone on display in Halifax’s Bankfield Museum. All of the paintings are of houses and stately homes in Yorkshire which are no longer standing, such as Manor Heath in Halifax (now Manor Heath Park) or Horton Hall near Bradford.
What makes Kate’s paintings stand out is her attention to detail. All of the paintings show the houses as if they were still in their heydays – lights on, and with an almost ethereal glow, giving them life again. Gold leaf has been woven in to good effect.
Alongside each piece is a description of the house – who built it, what it was used for, and its ultimate fate. Photographs are also provided, as are Kate’s scrapbooks that she used during her research. Ironically for an exhibition at a Calderdale Council venue, many of those houses were demolished by its predecessor organisations. Dry rot seemed to be a major problem in several properties but I think money (or the lack thereof) has been the major factor in most of the houses’ demise.
We’ve visited twice – Christine and I were lucky to be invited to the opening night by a mutual friend of the artist, but we also popped in with my parents at the weekend. It looks like it’s been pleasingly popular.
All of the paintings are for sale by sealed auction bid, but you can also purchase limited numbered edition prints that are signed by the artist. These include the gold leaf that the originals have. The exhibition runs until early April, and is free to visit.