The Castle’s Creative Galleries, located in the Ducal Palace, bring together historic artworks and fine examples of craft. Visitors can discover paintings, drawings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and jewellery, plus contemporary photography from some of the world’s most significant artists, including the German photographer, Candida Höfer.
Read our latest blog to find out more about Candida’s work and it’s place within the collection at Nottingham Castle.
Candida Höfer was a student of the visionary photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher, who also taught Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff and Thomas Struth. The Bechers are known for producing austere grids of black and white photographs recording water towers, gas tanks and blast furnaces. These unromantic subjects took photography in a different direction, away from portraiture, recording nature or capturing a fleeting moment in time.
The new deadpan style found beauty in shape, form, pattern and repetition. Everyday structures, lifted out of the landscape, became visually compelling within the gallery setting.
Höfer produces large scale, pristine and technically perfect photographs. She documents theatres, palaces, opera houses, libraries and art galleries. Her body of work creates a rich archive of these spaces.
Höfer’s large-scale photograph, Trinity College Dublin II (2004), hangs within the Castle’s Making of a Museum gallery. It records The Long Room, a 65 metre long space housing 200 000 of the library’s oldest books.
From the camera’s vantage point, the viewer is carried forward by a series of alcoves, tightly packed with books, and stretching into the distance. Höfer is drawing our attention to the vast amount of knowledge held in one place.
Another repeated feature is the marble busts – some are figures relating specifically to Trinity College, others are famous philosophers and writers, but all of them are men! The photographer’s eye is not entirely accepting of this, though, and Höfer has included in the foreground a case containing a Gaelic harp. In Ireland, the harp can still be recognised as a symbol of pride and an emblem of resistance or rebellion.
Quite deliberately, Höfer photographs spaces free from human disturbance. The viewer is invited to imagine the humans who have visited the library, from its completion in 1732, through to the present day – borrowers and readers, though not visible, have left their imprint on books and furniture.
Her photographs are visually rich – everyone looking at Trinity College Dublin II will notice something different and, more importantly, bring something different from their own experience. Standing before this photograph takes us out of the space we’re in, and transports us beyond the gallery walls.
Strangely, though, it also holds us in place – stepping slightly to the left of the photograph, we are presented with an echo of the photograph – a long view, drawing us into the Art Gallery.
Admission to the Making of a Museum gallery is included in the general admission ticket to Nottingham Castle. Book your tickets here.