ARCHIVE_2018 » Transitions in Time

David Kefford

Aid & Abet were commissioned by the National Trust in partnership with Arts Council England, to rethink and readdress the rooms and garden at Peckover House in Wisbech, to mark the 70th anniversary of the house coming into the care of the National Trust in 1948.

The house has witnessed some startling contrasts in its time, such as that between the Peckover family’s strict Quaker beliefs and later family members’ love of surrealist art.

The commission focused on the lives, beliefs and artistic talents of the Peckover and Penrose families, which formed part of our research and inspiration, alongside discussions with staff, volunteers and local community groups during 2017.

Aid and Abet spent much of 2017 delving into the archives at Peckover House in Wisbech and exploring the histories of both the Peckover and Penrose families. At first glance there would seem little that could connect the surrealist artist, Roland Penrose, to his Peckover aunts and grandfather and their strict Quaker lifestyle; but the archive reveals their shared love of art making, collecting objects and an interest in enlightenment through a greater understanding of the world around them.

Roland Penrose described in some detail the inspiration he took from his visits to Peckover House as a young boy and how the objects and books inspired his interest in art and later surrealism. Much of Lord Peckover’s collection of rare books and curios have long since been dispersed from Peckover House, but a clue to the variety of eclectic objects can be found in the small cabinet of curiosity that remains.

In the Drawing Room, Aid and Abet have created an installation of collages and sculptures that employs surrealist techniques to imagine a contemporary collection for Peckover House. As in the cabinet of curiosity many objects and images jostle together, creating new associations, a manifold collection of objects and images that appears rather like the unfolding pages of a scrapbook.

The artwork is not fixed but will continue to develop and change throughout 2018. Aid & Abet will lead a number of workshops with local community groups, in which they will make new artwork inspired by the themes explored in Transitions in Time and will continue to introduce new elements and reconfigure the work across the year.