Gloria in Excess

Made:       2017

Shown:    National Trust Felbrigg Hall - Norfolk

National Trust Felbrigg Hall property commissioned me to be their artist in residence in Oct 2016.

Within the residency I focused on the life of William Windham II, known as ‘The Maker’. Born in 1717, Windham enjoyed the pleasures of living life to excess. His many acquisitions during his Grand Tour shaped the way the house was built and retrofitted, and as records show, his flamboyant life was full of wonder, excitement and at times, danger.


My research during the residency revealed the amusing yet unfortunate story of Windham’s extravagant fireworks workshop, upon which my installation Gloria in Excess, in the ‘The Turns’ is based. An explosion of the fireworks caused by negligence led to significant architectural damage to the property. The sculptures are placed close to where the event originally happened and set the impending scene moments before the explosion.  


My sketches and carved works directly reference a series of books belonging to and signed by William Windham II within the library, called ‘Traité des feux d’artifice pour le spectacle et pour la guerre’. These practical guides instruct the reader on how to make fireworks including detailed illustrations on their aesthetics and workings. My additional sculptures, placed at significant locations around the house directly referencing Windham’s passions and achievements through sight specificity and story.


Using Felbrigg’s primary estate wood (oak), I have produced expertly hand carved pieces that capture the drawn aspect of the printed illustrations and emphasise the craftsmanship that would have been exercised by Windham and his assistants in hand making these objects. 


To accompany the installations I produced an Artist's Book.


Capturing the spirit of the original fire scorched firework book series found within the ancient library at Felbrigg Hall, each book is wrapped in firework fuse cable that must be lit to gain access to the book, see video below.


I have commissioned Jo Kimber and Paul Samuel White to produce a series of writings (firewords) and photographs (photobombs) to enhance and expand upon the Windham firework story I discovered during my residency within Felbrigg.


Containing writings from current and past curators regarding my work within historic and heritage properties as well as an opening chapter by Matthew Winterbottom, Curator of Oxford universities, Ashmolean's 18th Century decorative objects collections, this humorous and captivating memento of my work at Felbrigg is of high quality and value.


A highly limited edition is available through conversation with the artist. video capturing the burning process is found at the base of this webpage.


Limited edition of 35 

Photography by Paul Samuel White

Exhibition Catalogue

Alec Stevens 

Artist ~ Sculptor ~ Researcher

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British sculptor Alec Stevens, produces contemporary wooden sculptures and installations for historic & urban environments.

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