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From 1066 to Brexit, mural captures British history

By Mark Andrews | Bridgnorth | Politics | Published:

From the Norman Conquest to the Brexit referendum, the social and political history of the United Kingdom is portrayed in a stunning new work of art which will be unveiled at a country house next week.

The Bayeux-Tapestry style frieze, which chronicles the story of the Parliamentary Mace, will be revealed in a ceremony at Upton Cressett Hall near Bridgnorth on Wednesday.

It has been created by renowned artist Adam Dant, who was commissioned by the House of Commons as the official 2015 General Election artist, and whose collectors include the Prince of Wales.

The art work will be officially unveiled by Stone MP Sir Bill Cash, who lives at Upton Cressett Hall.

The mural, in the gatehouse, is the latest in a series at the estate which Dant began seven years ago, and that has been praised as "remarkable" by Country Life magazine. Also in the gatehouse is a new 16th century style style decorative ceiling which will be revealed at the same time.

The ceremony will be attended by a party from the Royal Academy of Arts, which is is taking part in a tour of Shropshire and Staffordshire's finest houses and arts collections.

The Royal Academy tour, which runs from Monday to Friday, also takes in Burwarton Hall near Bridgnorth and Oakly Park near Ludlow, as well as Chillington Hall at Brewood and Weston Park, near Shifnal.

Sir Bill's son William Cash Junior, who owns Upton Cressett Hall, has known Dant for 11 years, and has been a regular visitor to the house over the years.

Mr Cash began a renovation project on the house in 2009, during which time traces of original 16th century murals were exposed as the house was stripped of centuries of old paint and wallpaper.

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As part of the restoration, Mr Cash commissioned Dent to become the hall's "artist in residence", living on the site for extended periods while he created a number of spectacular works of art.

"In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, having a ‘house artist’ – or a furniture maker like Thomas Chippendale – was quite commonplace and we have tried to keep this country house tradition alive," said Mr Cash.

"Adam Dant spent nearly three years on the original Upton Cressett commission often living in the Gatehouse and mixing his own casein paints as he went about his work in all conditions."

Dant said the use of lime plaster in the fabric of the interior meant milk-based paints, similar to those used in the 16th century, had to be used in the art works.

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"I decided, instead of lime, to use less caustic casein as a medium for natural pigments," he said.

"This allowed me to work in the more fluid and intuitive fashion. "Casein paint uses skimmed milk solids mixed with ammonium carbonate as a base for natural pigments such as the red oxides burnt umbers and ochres of my paintings."

Dant's has work displayed in the Victorian & Albert Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

As part of the unveiling ceremony, Dant will give a talk about his work, and a limited number of tickets are available priced £5, including tea and biscuits.

The talk will take place on Wednesday at 11am, although guests are asked to arrive half an hour earlier. To reserve a place email laura@uptoncressett.co.uk

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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