Having worked with artist David Bethell on two previous occasions it was exciting to invite him to respond to the Peak District landscape and to create a camera obscura. In his practice David is inspired by the rural landscape and natural environment. He frequently uses performance, film and photography in his work to animate his installations and sculptures within the location and to explore a narrative. David worked with GRAIN Projects to create a unique camera obscura for Ilam Park in the Peak District, inspired by the landscape and heritage there and in collaboration with the National Trust.
Ilam Park is a 158-acre country park situated in Ilam, on both banks of the River Manifold five miles north west of Ashbourne, and is owned and managed by the National Trust. The estate includes the remains of Ilam Hall, built in the 1820s. Nearby, within the village, a Saxon church stands which houses the shrine of a Mercian king. Most significant is the beautiful landscape, an area of outstanding natural beauty, including Bunster hill just beyond the church and the magnificent example of a picturesque landscape in the foreground.
It is the church that forms the basis and design for David Bethell’s site specific, temporary and largescale work which functions as a camera obscura. Visitors were able to engage and experience the surroundings as an inverted landscape from within the installation. The commission captured the pastoral and picturesque landscape and the immense beauty of the position. David is now creating a legacy plate, inspired by the images captured by the camera obscura and a Wedgwood plate from the eighteenth century Imperial dinner service created for Catherine II, that featured the same view of Ilam. For more information read the commissioned writing by Selina Oakes and see www.grainphotographyhub.co.uk