Chatsworth House to be transformed into a giant illuminated advent calendar for Christmas 2023

Chatsworth House will be showcasing some of Derbyshire's best local talent
Chatsworth House is a shining beacon this Christmas, looking to bring sparkle and joy to people's livesChatsworth House is a shining beacon this Christmas, looking to bring sparkle and joy to people's lives
Chatsworth House is a shining beacon this Christmas, looking to bring sparkle and joy to people's lives

Bright and beautiful illuminations are one of the best things about Christmas and this year local talent is giving a helping hand to ramp up the festive spirit.

Illuminos is Derbyshire-based creative talent who will be delighting crowds this festive season as it transforms Chatsworth House into a giant advent calendar.

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Chatsworth House Trust has collaborated with Illuminos who have been creating visually inventive, memorable projection artworks and experiences for over a decade. Illuminos is a design outfit, headed up by brothers Matt and Rob Vale who have crafted a spectacular eight-minute animated light show that feels like next-level Christmas lights.

The Palace Of Advent light show by Illuminos

The installation animates 24 windows on the south façade of the house, reflecting the Christmas scenes of each numbered room within it as well as Chatsworth’s extensive collection of art and artifacts. The end result is a wonderful finale to the illuminated festive garden light trail.

From early site visits to in-depth studies around the house photographing objects, textures and architectural detail that are recreated in the final animation, Illuminos has worked into their installation, the distinct characteristics of Chatsworth and its history.

The Palace Of Advent light show at Chatsworth House is a spectacular creative feat by Derbyshire based IlluminosThe Palace Of Advent light show at Chatsworth House is a spectacular creative feat by Derbyshire based Illuminos
The Palace Of Advent light show at Chatsworth House is a spectacular creative feat by Derbyshire based Illuminos

Matt Vale said: “It's been a wonderful experience creating the Palace of Advent projection artwork for Chatsworth House Trust. Growing up just down the road in Matlock, we had always imagined that the 24 windows on the south façade would make a perfect Advent calendar, and now it is a reality!

"We worked closely with the fantastic creative team at Chatsworth on the piece, making all the moving parts and little elements out of things found inside the house, really tying it to its location. Matching the themed rooms to the different Advent days gave us lots to play with, from mischievous snowmen to beautiful doves.

“When combined with the bespoke soundscape we created, it produces a truly special, memorable Christmas experience. We hope visitors enjoy it as much as we did making it."

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Sheffield-based Bethan Maddocks is another local artist that Chatsworth House Trust has enjoyed collaborating with. Bethan’s new artwork is inspired by the Chatsworth archives and the stories of the many generations of people who have worked behind the scenes at the estate.

The Caretakers by Bethan Maddocks

The Caretakers, two intricately designed two-metre-tall, hand-cut paper artworks, explore the roles of the caretakers, or guardian angels, of Chatsworth’s past, taking a closer look at the unseen labour that has kept Chatsworth functioning throughout history. Developed over eight months, Bethan spent time visiting Chatsworth, delving into the archive and exploring artwork in the Devonshire Collections to gain inspiration for her work.

Celebrating figures such as gardeners, housekeepers and cooks, Bethan has used archival material including receipts, diary entries, letters and photographs to inform the imagery in her work. Visitors can discover the details of Chatsworth life depicted in the work including 20th-century vulture feather dusters, radishes, peaches and rhubarb which grew in the garden in the 1880s, or Great Conservatory in the garden, cut to replicate a staff photograph taken around 1895.

Bethan said: “Within my arts practise I aim to explore and tell untold stories of people, place and land. Whilst precisely cutting the windows, cutlery and candlesticks in The Caretakers I thought of the busy hands who would have polished and cleaned all these beautiful objects on display at Chatsworth, all the while having to use different corridors and staircases so that their work was kept out of sight.

“The work aims to elevate the important yet often unseen labour of the working classes and also connects to contemporary celebrations at this time of year, where even in everyday houses there is so much hidden work, often by women; tidying the house, preparing birds and feasts, wrapping presents, and caring for others.”

Jane Marriott, Director of Chatsworth House Trust, said: “As a charity we look after this incredible place and its wonderful collections to share them with visitors from nearby and around the world. Christmas presents a brilliant opportunity to do this, and to show our commitment to working with local artists and specialists. 

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“Our artist commissions this year have used our collections and archives to inspire them, adding beautiful bespoke installations to Christmas at Chatsworth, to make this year’s experience truly enchanting.”

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Other highlights at Chatsworth this Christmas include The Christmas Forest, a showcase of the Guinness World Record-breaking collection of Christmas tree brooches owned by collector Adam Wide. 

This jaw-dropping selection of Christmas brooches is one of the largest in the worldThis jaw-dropping selection of Christmas brooches is one of the largest in the world
This jaw-dropping selection of Christmas brooches is one of the largest in the world

A selection of 1,500 brooches from the collection is on display during Christmas at Chatsworth, including pieces from renowned jewellery designers such as Swarovski. The collection reflects the creativity and skill of artists and designers from 100 years of making as well as demonstrating an unrivalled passion for niche collecting.

On Thursday, November 30, 2023, Adam will be hosting an illustrated talk at Chatsworth, inviting visitors to get up close to the collection and explore the history of their many designers. There is so much to see and do at Chatsworth this year.

Additional commissions include a digital animation series of Santa’s Little Helpers from artist Leavon Archer, and the interactive Father Christmas workshop display in the Great Chamber, made by Unusual Projects. The Palace of Advent is open until January 7, 2023. 

For more information about this event visit Chatsworth’s website by clicking here.