Thursday, May 31, 2012

What The Butler Saw (at Leeds Castle)

Tuesday was a bright sunny day and I seized the chance to visit Leeds Castle.  An exhibition, entitled 'What The Butler Saw', opened at the castle at the beginning of May that features some of my illustration work and I thought it was high time I went to take a look.  The exhibition is about Lady Baillie (who purchased the castle in 1926 and used it as her weekend pile for outrageous parties during the 1930s) and her small army of staff.  I had never visited the castle before and it's not in Leeds, as you might think, but about an hour outside London in Kent.  Très convenient.  

There's a bit of a walk from the entrance to the castle but it's pretty spectacular.  I have clearly gotten used to living in London because all that open space was kind of a shock.  There are geese, ducks, swans, peacocks, some crazy plants and water everywhere.  Needless to say, I took some photos on my way...

Leeds Castle
The castle door knocker // One of many peacocks milling about

The castle from a distance // One of the more ornate ceilings inside

Remains of the medieval barbican

I did the illustrations with Art Direction from Andy Spencer, who designed the rest of the exhibition.  You can see my portfolio page with my end of the project here.  I had a ball listening to 1930s swing music and researching servants' dress for the pictures.

Entering the castle

The Butler

First info display, designed by Andy Spencer with staff illustrations by me
(note the black silhouettes on the right are not mine)

The entrance display with my 'Staff Line-up'

Part of the display, with costume example from Angels

The Housekeeper

The Housekeeper's hands

The Butler

The Butler ushering guests out

Thank you, come again!

I really enjoyed the exhibition and it was quite informative about the elite and the staff of the day.  The castle really is a very charming place and the grounds are just amazing.  I spent an afternoon there, but I was rushing it a bit.  I could have easily spent a full day.  Or even longer in Lady Baillie's lemon yellow wardrobe room, with shoe closet, marble bathroom and secret staircase.  I defy any woman not to find that magical.

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