Location: Dungannon , United Kingdom
Completion date: 2018
The Argory National Trust
National Trust UK
Specialising in the creation of neon light sculptures, Northern Irish artist, Kevin Killen was invited to create a bespoke art installation, placing contemporary design in the heart of this historic house. The result is inspired by the glow of the acetylene gas flame that lit The Argory, delivering an entirely modern take on this celebrated form of lighting.
“My work uses neon light to map peoples’ stories, histories and lives, explains Kevin. ‘While we do it in very different ways, the National Trust also preserves these things, so working with them has been a wonderful experience. Using the tour of the house as a starting point, I photo-documented a staff member traversing the tour route and translated that into a neon map. The piece embodies the owners, staff and visitors throughout the house’s history, while the spiral shape is inspired by the spiral patterns found in the house’s décor.’
The original acetylene gas lighting system was installed in The Argory in 1906. The system was cutting edge in its day and created a distinctive glow. Over the past two years, The Argory has been delivering a conversation project to remove over 100 years of dirt and tarnish from the unique collection of brass fittings. The final phase of the project involves the removal of the remarkable chandelier in the west hall for careful restoration and we took the opportunity to use this space in an entirely new and innovative way.
Remarkable strides took place at The Argory in the development of modern lighting systems and we wanted to celebrate that innovation. We believe this is the first time that a modern art installation has been added to the fabric of a historic house in the Trust’s care and we are very excited to showcase the results to our visitors, members and supporters.
As the project progressed, we were very fortunate to receive CCP funding from the National Trust to restore the large double-height chandelier in the West Hall. This was a job that required us to scaffold the inside of the main entrance hall to enable us to remove the light before it was packed up and taken to Rupert Harris’ studio in London where it is, at present, receiving specialist treatment.
During the planning stages, the idea developed that we should do something unique to celebrate the restoration of the chandelier. How great would it be if we were able to not only tell the story of the conservation work, highlighting the significance of the lighting system but also incorporate the last owner Mr Bond’s love for contemporary art