Post 1 Will Teather – Revisiting the paintings of Strangers’ Hall


NAC artist in residence Will Teather will be sharing his latest works and lockdown journey with us online for his new exhibition that was due to open in April at Strangers’ Hall.

Will Teather: Revisiting the paintings of Strangers’ Hall

Strangers’ Hall will host five new paintings designed by artist Will Teather, that deconstruct the composition of historical artworks within the museum collection.  The artist’s fractured reinterpretations reference both postmodern pixilation and the long-standing idea of sacred geometry and energy points within historical paintings.

“Prior to lock-down I was in the last stages of preparing for a new exhibition at Stranger’s Hall Museum, Norwich. The show was to be a series of radical reworkings of artworks from the museum’s collection.  One day the exhibition will come to light, but in the meantime I will present the project so far, online.  Today I will introduce the project and the first painting that was completed, Mr and Mrs Custance of Norwich and Their Daughter Frances (after Beechey).

My painting is a reworking of an older painting by William Beechey that hangs in the Georgian Dining Room of Stranger’s Hall.  Beechey became a renowned portrait artist and was adept at elaborate conversation pieces.  The paintings of this period are often very carefully composed, as are the examples in the museum’s collection.  My fractal reinterpretation is intended to explode the geometry implied within the historical composition around its key energy points.  The results of this process can be described as somewhat psychedelic and seem like a glitched version of the originals, helping viewers perhaps to see the museum collections afresh.  I often feel like historic paintings are other worldly, acting as a portal into the past, and these new paintings respond to this in many ways.  The new artworks are intended as both reactionary and revolutionary, celebrating the underlying structures of realist painting yet creating an automated response, where assistants can complete many aspects of the new compositions simply by following a list of instructions. The painting process is a mixture of careful planning, painting with a restricted pallet appropriate to the artwork and a series of specialist glazing techniques of my own design.  Cathy Terry, Senior Curator of Social History for Norfolk Museums Service, sheds some light on the history of this particular artwork”:

The lovely ‘conversation piece’ portrait ‘Mr and Mrs John Custance of Norwich and their daughter Frances’ by William Beechey (1753-1839), catalogue no. NWHCM : 1990.232,  hangs in the Georgian Dining Room at Strangers’ Hall museum, in a late 18th century period room setting, and flanked by related portraits of members of the Norfolk gentry.

John Custance (1749-1822) of Weston House, inherited his estate at Weston Longville near Norwich at the age of eight and married Frances Beauchamp-Proctor, a wealthy heiress and daughter of Sir William Beauchamp-Proctor of Langley Park in 1778.  John and Frances had eight children but only daughter Frances is shown in the painting, and she is reckoned to be three years old at time of sitting.  We see John portrayed as a typical country squire, relaxed and at ease with his family in a comfortable domestic setting. John wears a practical cutaway coat with blue velvet collar, a fashionably short waistcoat and front-fall knee breeches. A white stock is worn at the neck, white stockings and short boots complete the ensemble. Mrs Custance’s robe has fitted sleeves and full flounces, and she wears a high mob cap tied with a wide ribbon and bow and has a wide-brimmed fashionable hat positioned on a chair nearby. Daughter Frances wears a simple white muslin gown, with red leather shoes with buckles peeping out at the hem and has her hair loose with a fringe.

Will Teather –

Information about Weston Park, home of Custance family, in Norfolk Heritage Explorer

Sir William Beechey – Information from Wikipedia