Our Journey of Enlightenment

Film by Harry Crowder

Late spring of this year, five makers and I, ventured from the gloom of several months of lockdown to the vast cerulean blue skies of North Norfolk, under which the Holkham Estate lies.

In 1712 the orphaned, cockerel-gambling 15 year old Thomas Coke (who became the First Earl of Leicester) was living in an Elizabethan manor house acquired by his ancestors. He needed an education and so was sent on a six year ‘Grand Tour’ from which he returned as ‘a perfect virtuoso’ (his phrase): a gentleman collector, erudite visionary and a tastemaker.

He set about commissioning a myriad of renowned and little-known craftsmen to fulfil his vision – a Palladian hall to house his great collections, and crafted the marshes and fields into the Elysian grounds that fashion dictated.

With the aim to create inspired new works which capture the distinct spirit and narratives of place, our five contemporary protagonists entered this temple of the human-made, where the voices of their fellow artisans and artists vibrate through each handle, statue and peer mirror, poised to continue the tale....

Dutch potter, Arjan van Dal, freewheeled past the Obelisk through the South Gate to the brickyard, eager to get his hands dirtied by the native ‘wild clay’, untouched for decades and from which the brick-build stately home was created.

James Rigler witnessed beastly gilded furniture prancing around the corridors being chased by stoney deities; Diana the huntress - poised with her arrows - taking the lead.

Laura Carlin was spun around the nature reserve, teaming with wading birds and verdant rushes, and spun in the other direction between the contrasting worlds of the internal spaces of the Hall, getting the gossip on the historic characters who line its silken walls.

Mac Collins disappeared into the proud domed structures within the cavities which arch above the splendour of the Marble Hall, and met the god of gods, Jupiter, there.

Alfred Newall inspected a myriad of cupboards, mouldings and chair legs with Ian Barrett, the retired estate carpenter, who had dedicated his working life to mending and fixing his predecessors work (cheekily adding his own pencil signature to those of Kent and Whittle on the undersides of most of the furniture).

Over the next few days, we invite you to enter our maker’s imaginations through their distinctive expressions and explore the wondrous narratives of this collection during London Design Festival and London Craft Week - either from your desktop or by visiting our showroom - and be inspired by these feats of creativity both past and present.

Our heartfelt thanks to the Earl and Countess of Leicester, and the whole community at Holkham, for all the enthusiasm, energy and generosity they showed us whilst we were 'in residence'.

Catherine Lock