National Trust brings John Chute and Mark Brazier Jones together at The Vyne

By Culture24 Staff | 26 May 2010
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a photo of a woman looking at a bizarre clock shaped like a bonsai tree

(Above) National Trust Conservator Ylva Dahnsjo admires a piece by designer Mark Brazier-Jones at the Bling Meets Baroque show at The Vyne

Exhibition: Bling Meets Baroque, The Vyne, near Basingstoke, May 29-August 1 2010

A former Tudor Palace in Hampshire is fusing the past and the present as it prepares its historic rooms to showcase the work of one of the world's most renowned avant-garde designers.

National Trust property The Vyne is hosting the work of bespoke furniture and accessories designer Mark Brazier-Jones, as though the former flamboyant owner of the house, John Chute, had returned from the past and commissioned them.

In the mid-18th century Chute transformed the house into a spectacular home with outstanding pieces of baroque furniture and art, also containing objects and décor from the top designers of the day.

a photo of pink chaise longue in a room with classical pillars

A dramatic 18th century backdrop to a modern chaise longue

In response to these particular tastes, Brazier-Jones has created more than 30 items for Chute's former home, ranging from tables encrusted with crystals and a shocking pink animal hide chaise-longue to a mythical "Dragon" clock and mysterious Masonic chair.

It makes for an interesting meeting of styles and tastes. Brazier-Jones is famous for what he terms "functional art" – elaborate but practical artworks combining beauty and elegance with strength and durability. Wrought from solid materials such as bronze or aluminium, his pieces are held in museums worldwide, including the Louvre in Paris and the V and A in London.

Chute was a close friend of Horace Walpole and a member of the "Committee of Taste", which had an unabashed enthusiasm for historic and curious objects displayed in suitably evocative "Romantic" interiors. He also supervised the enlargement and decoration of Strawberry Hill, Walpole's villa near Twickenham.

a phgoto of a chair with a masonic motif on it flanked by two busts on pillars in a wood panelled room

Masonic themed chair by Mark Brazier-Jones

The day after Chute's death in 1776, Walpole declared: "He was my counsel in affairs, was my oracle in taste, the standard to whom I submitted my trifles, and the genius that presided over poor Strawberry."

The connection with Walpole's architectural tour de force is preserved to this day in the Strawberry Parlour at The Vyne with its dark panelling and collection of Chute drawings and projects on the walls. Elsewhere the style is a flamboyant melange of gothic, classical and baroque with unusual bespoke furniture and curiosities at every turn.

"John Chute was at the cutting edge of style in his day," says Ben Boyle, The Vyne's Visitor Services Manager. "Mark's flamboyant designs and vibrant use of colour and materials would have been right up his street."

Open 11am-5pm (1pm-5pm Monday-Wednesday), closed Thursday and Friday. Admission £4.30-£9.50 (family ticket £21.48-£23.65).

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