Over the past few months eye catching roadside hoardings showing a globe of blue sky streaked with clouds have popped up all over north and west Norfolk. These are advertising an exhibition of landscape art by the famed sculptor Anish Kapoor at Houghton Hall. Being curious and having a week off and two children to keep entertained through this long summer holiday we decided to give the exhibition a try. At £16 each for an adult ticket but free entry for the kids it was a reasonably priced but not cheap excursion.
Houghton Hall doesn't open until 11am which does feel rather late in the day and when we arrived ten minutes early there was a queue of cars waiting by the locked gates. We'd booked our tickets online and when we gave our booking reference to the lady on the entrance booth she remarked that we were "another group" that were booked for the following week, but that she "would let us in". Grateful as we were to be let in we were a little surprised at her tone given we had checked the computer booking and clearly weren't the only folk who had a problem with the date.
Once parked we headed first for the Walled Garden which was wonderful and both kids [age 8 and 11] said this was their favourite place, in particular they loved Jeppe Hein's Waterflame a traditional pond and water fountain topped off by a burning flame. I suspect an analysis of social media posts from Houghton would show this as one of the most photographed and shared parts of the estate.
|Jeppe Hein's, Waterflame|
The rest of the Walled Garden was lovely and no1 son in particular was taken by the amount of fruit grown within it. I enjoyed having a coffee on a bench by another pool and spent a contemplative five minutes photographing a Water Lily surrounded by the fallen crimson petals of a Geranium.
|Water Lily and Geranium petals|
Passing through the Courtyard [with some above average quality outdoor furniture to sit on] we showed our tickets and entered the grounds in front of the Hall and spent a pleasant couple of hours using the free map provided to explore both the Anish Kapoor exhibition and the permanent pieces of landscape art. The headline act for us and I suspect for most other visitors was the Kapoor piece Sky Mirror. Perhaps a shame it was such a grey day and that the giant sphere reflecting the sky took on the appearance of the Moon rather than the radiant blue and white disc of the promotional posters, perhaps something to consider when deciding when to visit.
|Anish Kapoor, Sky Mirror |
Although it was quite busy, unlike most places around where we live in North West Norfolk at no point did we feel crowded and it was easy to relax and find a quiet spot to sit and drink coffee or have a picnic. Our fellow visitors were fun to observe with perhaps not unexpectedly, a higher proportion of folk in slightly more bohemian clothing. One final observation on our experiences and which I only noticed towards the end of our visit was that there were no dogs in the grounds. So no dog muck to avoid, no owners with dogs that they don't quite have under under control that bound up to you barking, which did make a nice and relaxing change.
Our visit ended with an ice cream tub on the lawns [£2 each] whilst a pair each of Red Kites and Common Buzzards jousted high over the Hall.