Even in a garden that is used to hosting shows of contemporary art, there is something extraordinary looking about the 12 large-scale sculptures by Michael Craig-Martin installed against the magnificent background that is the English country estate of Chatsworth. Part of the evolution of the artist’s signature “line drawings” that he began in the late 70’s, these vibrantly coloured “drawings in space” outline a series of banal objects – umbrellas, light bulbs and women’s shoe. With almost little footprint on the manicured lawns of Chatsworth they manage to create a massive impact on the viewer.

“There’s no plinth, no visible method of support,” says Dublin-born Craig-Martin, who is considered to have been a powerful influence on the generation known as the Young British Artists. “They’re made of steel and some of them are 3m high, but they appear to be weightless, almost floating. When you walk towards them the scale starts to shift and you see that they are essentially two-dimensional drawings that pictorialise the landscape beyond.”

As well as the sculptures (all recent works with six on view for the first time), the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire also invited Craig-Martin to curate a show of the house’s classical sculpture collection. Of course, Craig-Martin didn’t end there. Adding his signature touch, the artist “intervened” by wrapping the plinths of historic statues in hot-pink magenta.

Michael Craig-Martin
16 March – 29 June 2014

How to get to Chatsworth

The estate is set in the heart of the Peak District and is a 3-hour drive from London. From London St Pancras, trains take 2 hours to Chesterfield from where it is a 15-minute bus or taxi ride.

Stay for the Weekend

There is no better place to stay in the area than on the Chatsworth estate itself. Although it is not possible to stay in the main house (the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire still reside there), the estate has several holiday cottages converted from barns, stables and hunting towers.

Nearby, The Swan Inn at Swinbrook is owned and designed by the Duchess. Often called “the UK’s poshest pub” it also features a number of guestrooms.


The Local Pub

Don’t come to the country looking for fine dining restaurants. Instead, hang out with the local villagers at The Devonshire Arms at Beeley, which offers gastro pub food and a large selection of regional ales and artisan malts to be savoured at the bar or in the conservatory.


“I love the elegance of the high-heeled shoe, which is so like the house – it’s sedate but also very flashy and over the top. There’s something about women’s shoes that seems to be the most obvious form of luxury. And so that worked like a nice foil to all the other things that are much more practical.”
- Michael Craig-Martin

“I’ve never thought of myself as a pop artist. They were concerned with images that had already entered the world of imagery. So Andy Warhol was not really painting soup cans, but advertisements for soup cans. Roy Lichtenstein used comic books, Jasper Johns did the American flag and James Rosenquist used billboards. My reference is always to the object itself, I’m imposing my own language of drawing rather than finding something that has already been transported into a language.”
- Michael Craig-Martin

“When I started drawing objects in 1977, you could have described most of them as having forms that followed functions. Today virtually everything has the sense of being “designed”, and even though every iPhone is exactly the same, we call it “my phone” – it takes on a personal resonance.”
- Michael Craig-Martin