Contemporary art installation at Belsay Hall

A new contemporary art installation featuring the haunting voice of Turner Prize winning artist Susan Philipsz comes to Belsay Hall. 

The exterior of Belsay Hall

A new sound-based contemporary art installation opens at Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens today.

Titled The Yellow Wallpaper, the installation features the haunting voice of Turner Prize winning artist Susan Philipsz'. Philipsz was inspired by a visit to Belsay in 2017. 

Visitors to Belsay will hear the artist's lilting voice curling through the rooms of the hall, coaxing them to follow it. Multi layered and mysterious, the visitor gradually becomes aware of the dark lyrics of the beautiful sung ballad, The Unquiet Grave.

A separate installation titled The Shallow Sea, can be heard from within the cellar. The spectral overlapping sound of Philipsz' voice fills and reverberates around the spaces in the hall, creating a sense of 'unquiet'.

The Yellow Wallpaper runs from 20 July to 16 September.

Inside Belsay Hall
Inside Belsay Hall

How Belsay inspired the installation

'Unquiet' was the inspiration for Philipsz after visiting Belsay in 2017. She said:

'When I visited Belsay Hall for the first time I was struck by the atmosphere in the upper bedrooms. The downstairs rooms are grand and airy but the rooms on the first floor have a different mood.

'The small empty rooms and peeling wallpaper combine to produce an image of domestic abandonment. There is a tension that is palpable but undefined.

'I have always been fascinated by inaccessible spaces and the chimney flues within the hall represent an intricate network that runs throughout this magnificent historic architecture.'

Matt Thompson, Head Collections Curator for English Heritage said:

'The hall at Belsay is a blank canvas and a perfect showcase for an installation like this. It isn't like any other historic building - it's unique in exuding a rather melancholic and unquiet atmosphere.'

The fireplace inside Belsay Hall

The Yellow Wallpaper has been commissioned by English Heritage, with funding from Arts Council England and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The new work forms part of Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience, a collaborative research project based at Newcastle and Leeds universities. It examines the value and practice of commissioning visual art within heritage sites managed by English Heritage, the National Trust, Arts & Heritage and the Churches Conservation Trust.

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