2012 - Curious Visitors

This summer, visitors to Aston Hall have the opportunity to discover a range of highly unexpected and inspiring works of art by some of the UK’s most prominent contemporary artists displayed against the beautiful backdrop of a Jacobean mansion.

Presented in collaboration with the Arts Council Collection, Curious Visitors brings together important works of contemporary painting, photography, sculpture, video and sound installation in Aston Hall. Key works by major British artists including Peter Doig, Toby Ziegler and Laura Ford have been carefully selected and located throughout the venue, providing an intriguing juxtaposition between heritage and contemporary perception.

Curious Visitorsis the first of a series of three projects in Birmingham running from 2012-2014, and represents a major collaboration between Birmingham Museums Trust and the Arts Council Collection. It is part of the ambitious Arts Council Collection Partnerships supported by Christie’s, which will see four partner museums, Birmingham Museums Trust, Leeds Museums & Galleries, Manchester Art Gallery and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, create a dynamic programme of displays and exhibitions based on loans from the Arts Council Collection.

Key pieces in the exhibition include Peter Doig’s powerful painting, ‘Red Deer’ in the Withdrawing Room. The room is richly furnished in late Stuart style, and the location of the painting refers to the ancient deer park once seen from the windows. Situated in the neo-classical Green Library will be Laura Ford’s 3-metre ‘Giraffe’ sculpture, cramped and uncomfortable, playing with sense of scale and celebrating the Hall’s famous accommodation of the city’s first natural history collections in the 1870s.

Portraiture and the historic display of portraits in a country house setting is explored through the location of works in the spectacular seventeenth century Long Gallery. Major photographic pieces by Maud Sulter and Bettina von Zwehl, video installation by Hilary Lloyd and sculpture by Toby Ziegler encourage an investigation of this tradition. Amongst other pieces sited throughout the house and stableblock, in Dick’s Garret (servants’ dormitory) a murmured sound installation by Janice Kerbel, ‘Nick Silver Can’t Sleep’ tells of love, insomnia and death in the most remote part of the house. Two further works by Ziegler, including his painting ‘Je t’adore Baby’, which is displayed alongside Birmingham Museum’s own ‘Freedom or Death’, make a spectacular introduction to the project in the Saloon.

For more information on the exhibition please visit Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery website.



Installation views


The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.