Waddesdon Manor reopened for the winter with the promise of continuing the theme of lights and legends in the house which it followed last year. And my how it has delivered.
Artist Bruce Munro is completing his four-year residency with his final light installation, inspired by the charity ShelterBox.
And for the first time, the exterior of the house is bathed in light, with a sound and light show running every half hour from 4pm.
Head of collections Pippa Shirley said: “This is a Jewish house and Baron Ferdinand was never here at Christmas, so we could never have a theme of Baron Ferdinand’s Victorian Christmas.
“But that frees us up to explore so many themes and to be quite contemporary with many themes and stories.”
Within the Christmas trail in the house there is an acknowledgment of the introduction of electricity to the manor in 1890; a display in the white drawing room is inspired by the great spectacle of dining at the court of the self styled Sun King, Louis XIV of France; and there are nods towards Peter Pan and Narnia in the Bachelor’s Wing.
In the grounds, Bruce Munro has created a single audio-visual installation of winter light called SOS. More than 150 tents are pitched in the aviary glade and they continually change colour as visitors walk through them, as sounds of static radio, snippets of music and radio reports fill the air alongside Morse code.
Mr Munro said: “SOS is inspired by ShelterBox, a charity that provides shelter in a tent and a box of tricks for families displaced through war or famine.”
He said when planning his installations he has to consider health and safety, electrical points and the route visitors take, as well as his artistic inspiration.
He said: “All my work is inspired by moments of clarity throughout my lifetime. It’s also about having fun with materials and my passion is to get people out of their houses and into real spaces.”
He said he goes camping a lot with his family in the summer, and has always wanted to do an installation using tents. As a child he remembers old radios producing static, snippets of music and news reports, and he wanted to incorporate that into his multi-coloured tent installation.
As visitors walk through the lines of lit up tents a variety of music from Kylie, Abba, Beyonce and the Osmonds through to classical and choral works mix with the shipping forecast and Morse code.
Munro’s latest creation is an absolute pleasure to behold and something you will never forget.
He takes something so simple as light and sound yet manages to combine them together in such a unique way.
It is a huge project and quite breathtaking as you walk through the tents bathed in different coloured lights which dance along the tents in time to the brilliant mixture of music.
Posts on social media from people who have attended the Manor this winter and seen Munro’s show and the house in all its Christmas glory have been met with amazement and questions such as ‘Where is this? I have to go’.
Whether you are visiting from just down the road in Aylesbury or from slightly further afield like Tring, Berkhamsted, Leighton Buzzard, Thame or Milton Keynes it is well worth thr trip.
The manor is open Wednesdays to Sundays until Sunday, January 3. Advance booking is advised for the house. Full details of house and gardens opening hours and admission charges at www.waddesdon.org.uk