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Spotlight on nature’s heroes at Attingham Park exhibition

By Lucy Todman | Shrewsbury | Attractions | Published:

The walls of a National Trust property near Shrewsbury are hung with portraits of some of Shropshire’s most aristocratic families.

Helen Rowse, house and collections manager at Attingham Park, takes a look at the artwork

But now Attingham Park is the temporary home of portraits of some of the country’s champions of the natural world.

Famous faces, from the 19th century to the present day, are celebrated in a new exhibition touring three National Trust sites this year – and from now until September 8 they will be on display at Attingham Park.

The exhibition – Faces of Change, Nature’s Champion – is a partnership between the National Trust and the National Portrait Gallery drawing on portraits from the gallery’s collection. It focuses on individuals who have transformed the way we perceive, experience and aim to protect nature.

Featured sitters include environmental activists, scientists, poets, politicians, campaigners, gardeners and broadcasters who have affected how we interact with our environment. The exhibition includes outstanding paintings, sculptures, photographs and recent commissions.

Michelle Fullard, visitor experience and operations manager, said: “We are really thrilled to have the exhibition at Attingham over the summer. It’s a great chance for visitors from our local communities to see works from the National Portrait Gallery closer to home and we hope that younger generations visiting it will be inspired by the work of the sitters and find ways to help nature themselves.”

Conservation

Gardeners from Gertrude Jekyll to Bob Flowerdew will feature, as well as key figures of the Romantic Movement, such as William Wordsworth, and early radicals and reformers William Morris and Octavia Hill.

More recent figures include animal welfare and agriculture campaigners Linda McCartney and Prince Charles, and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. These are complemented by images of people at the forefront of conservation and research, including Jane Goodall and James Lovelock and The Clash singer/songwriter Joe Strummer whose image was captured by photographer Pennie Smith in 1980.

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Strummer, who died in 2002, was instrumental in setting up Future Forests - since rechristened the Carbon Neutral Company - dedicated to planting trees in various parts of the world to combat global warming.

In each case, the exhibition will chart the sitters’ importance in our evolving understanding of the natural world and how best to protect it.

The exhibition will be on display in the Picture Gallery in the mansion. The exhibition is part of a year-long visitor programme called Grow Your Green Roots, highlighting the work to conserve and protect nature on Attingham Park’s 4,000 acre estate.

The exhibition also forms part of the National Trust’s 2019 programme People’s Landscapes, a series of events and activities that will explore landscapes where people came together to seek dramatic social change.

Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman
@shroptod

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.

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