The Manor House • Maria Rivans

Now That’s Entertainment
found images, wire, glue, paper, card and tulip wood

Wintering Abroad
found images, wire, glue, paper, card and tulip wood

Artist's Statement

When first visiting Preston Manor I was overwhelmed by the number of photographs, paintings and ornaments on display, particularly in the drawing room. I have created five box constructions to accompany the collections of keepsakes and souvenirs and incorporated them into the congested environment. These playful dioramas use vivid and seductive colours and employ powerful but humorous imagery.They are a development of my collage practice which explores the boundaries of two and three dimensions.

Each box depicts an intriguing story focusing on the fascinating life and relationship of the last couple to live at the house – Ellen and Charles Thomas-Stanford.

The materials have been sourced from vintage advertisements, posters, postcards and found ephemera from the Edwardian era which I have placed in glazed wooden boxes to evoke pop-up books and the Victorian practice of decoupage. The running narratives are intended to offer an insight into the lives of the couple and to generate a sense of connection between visitors and the family.

The boxes initially appear to integrate with the furnishings and interior, as if the couple themselves had bought them as additional mementos to add to the house; upon closer inspection we realise they can’t possibly be original artifacts.

As we wander through the rooms a larger story becomes apparent. By revealing hidden secrets we begin to dig deeper into the life and soul of the house. Ellen had a illegitimate child by her butler. She first met Charles on the way back from her first husband’s funeral. These facts and other historical detail, such as their love of wintering abroad and entertaining Rudyard Kipling at their numerous lavish parties bring to life the Stanfords’ intricate lives and love of life.