Swirls and folds and waves.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to see the latest art exhibition at Houghton Hall in West Norfolk, despite the fact that it rained for most of the day.

British sculptor Tony Cragg’s works are presented in the wonderful setting of the grounds and hall at Houghton, with several new works made especially for this exhibition.

Of materials including bronze and steel, they are mostly grand in scale (though there are some equally stunning smaller pieces to enjoy). The impossibly smooth, almost fluid shapes are highly tactile, inviting you to caress them (though, of course, you must not!). One of our followers on facebook said that they look ‘quite fungal’. Look closer though and you can see profiles of human faces, and limbs…

The terrific thing about art at Houghton is that it is so accessible and ‘easy’ to absorb. Whether you are an ardent fan of contemporary or cultural art or not yet familiar enough with it have an option, it matters not. You can enjoy the spectacular surroundings of Houghton, and the art exhibition which is seamlessly installed there, and you’ll be appreciating art in an almost subconscious way, like it or not. For me, this is why it’s a great place to take the whole family – kids are engaging with art without barriers or crowds or queues or stuffiness.

And Houghton is a whole ‘day out’ experience. Along with the art exhibition, there are many other permanent sculptural works, a model soldier museum (one of the largest collections in the world), a café, a play area, and the Walled Garden is absolutely beautiful. We literally saw younger children with the Parents, squealing and screaming with delight when they came across Jeppe Hein’s Waterflame fountain.

Houghton Hall was built by Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first Prime Minister in around 1722. Designed by prominent Georgian architects Colen Campbell and James Gibbs, it is one of the country’s finest examples of Palladian architecture. Houghton and its estate passed to the Cholmondeley family at the end of the 18th Century and remains a family home. The house and award-winning gardens have been open to the public since 1976.

We highly recommend Houghton as a day out in Norfolk – a huge dose of fabulous art and culture, fresh air and beautiful surroundings.

Tony Cragg at Houghton is on until 26th September 2021. Tickets must be pre-booked online. Exhibition tickets (includes access to all the above) £18 per adult, Under 18yrs Free and Students £10.

Runner by Tony Cragg (2015).