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Round the houses

25th May 2023

Amanda Loose visits this summer’s must-see exhibitions at Houghton Hall and Sandringham

Art house

Houghton Hall is currently home to a major solo exhibition of works by celebrated artist Sean Scully, which opened this April. ‘Sean Scully at Houghton Hall – Smaller Than The Sky’ – which continues until 29 October – comprises sculptures in the grounds and Hall from small maquettes to towering open steel structures, plus paintings and works on paper in the house, North Colonnade and Contemporary Gallery. Several new works feature, including stacks made of sandstone, wood, glass and marble.

It really is one of those exhibitions where you look, and look, then look again as a different perspective and light emerges, the Palladian Hall, landscape and existing artworks juxtaposed with but also complemented by the sculptures. 

Sean Scully’s concern for the environment and his focus on nature is reflected in the title of the exhibition. An important component is his book, Endangered Sky, a collaboration with the poet Kelly Grovier, focusing on the plight of bird life, memorializing those already extinct and those which are close to it, which was launched at Houghton and is being shown in vitrines as part of the exhibition. 

Sean Scully ‘Tower Light Cubed’ 2023 © Sean Scully. Courtesy of the artist. Photo Pete Huggins

Houghton is also playing host to ‘East to East’, the latest pop-up exhibition from Contemporary and Country ( in The Stables, pictured right. The show, which continues until October, features more than 30 artists and makers based in East Anglia who share their appreciation for the aesthetic and techniques originating in Chinese and Japanese art and craft. Expect to see sculpture, handmade objects, paintings, ceramics, weaving, woodblock prints and more, shown in this beautiful, characterful space.

I visited just before the exhibition opened; highlights for me include painter Mary Blue’s works on paper, exquisite, intricate papercut art by Ruth Howes, Victoria Sebag’s rich floral paintings, and brightly coloured ceramic plates, vases and bananas by Yve Slater. 

Houghton Hall is open selected days until 29 October. Visit for ticket prices and to book. 

A brush with royalty

The Ballroom at Sandringham House is playing host to an exhibition of more than 40 watercolours painted by His Majesty The King, featuring British geographic landscapes and Royal Residences. Although The King’s watercolours have been exhibited previously, this exhibition, marking the year of the Coronation, is unique as it focuses entirely on scenes and landscapes from around the UK. 

Scenes painted in the Welsh hills, the highlands of Scotland, at Windsor and Birkhall Castles, and Highgrove hang alongside paintings of the Norfolk countryside both on and around the Sandringham Estate.

The King previously wrote in 1991 for the book HRH The Prince of Wales Watercolours: ‘I took up painting entirely because I found photography less than satisfying. Quite simply, I experienced an overwhelming urge to express what I saw through the medium of watercolour and to convey that almost ‘inner’ sense of texture which is impossible to achieve via photography…’ 


The exhibition continues until 12 October and is included with a House & Gardens ticket.


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