A strange and wonderful conjunction

We hear so much about mixing and differentiating old and new when dealing with historic buildings that it has become rather a bore. But it is so refreshing to see it done in an imaginative way, albeit melding architecture and art, rather than building with building.

We hear so much about mixing and differentiating old and new when dealing with historic buildings that it has become rather a bore. But it is so refreshing to see it done in an imaginative way, albeit melding architecture and art, rather than building with building.

In the chateau at Oiron, in France’s Deux Sevres region near to the Loire, the magnificent early Renaissance building has a chequered history and, as a result, no content although a magnificent painted gallery. Elsewhere, artists have been asked to contribute site-specific works to a ‘cabinet of curiosities’.

There are permanent works by the likes of Ian Hamilton Finlay and Sol le Witt, as well as more temporary ones. And it is all a delight. Strange, but a delight. The secret lies in the fact that the art works so directly with the building, that every position has been considered. Even if you don’t get all the theory, you can enjoy the strange juxtaposition of, for instance, menacing stuffed animals playing a board game with an elaborate ceiling. More of this please.

Ruth Slavid

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