Wray Castle Art Commission

Call for Art Commissions at Wray Castle

Background information:

Two protagonists: Margaret Dawson and Beatrix Potter. What was the convention for women at the time? What level of control did they have over their lives? Does this convention still influence women’s lives today?


The National Trust are currently exploring these questions with a quest to create an engaging, inspiring adult visitor experience. The castle will undergo transformation with the aim of bringing to life the stories of these two protagonists, associated with Wray, interlacing with National Public Programming theme for 2018 of Women’s History and Suffrage. The National Trust have been researching, developing and testing themes. The National Trust are ready to interpret our findings, to produce strong visual content, with a clear intent as what The National Trust would like the visitor’s to do, feel and remember.


The National Trust are seeking to commission several artists to produce conceptual art installations to be displayed in several rooms of Wray castle. The National Trust are looking for projects that are innovative or artistically challenging to raise the profile of Wray Castle; to connect with Wray’s Spirit of Place; and ultimately a wider adult audience.


Wray Castle aims to:

  • Present a new and unexpected story and experience of Wray Castle which ties in to National Public Programming.
  • Stimulate conversation and debate about the theme and sub-themes detailed below.
  • Have an emotional impact on all visitors, but especially to empower women.
  • Broaden and deepen our relationship with our local communities.


The brief:

The National Trust are looking for…

  • Visual art projects that can be in a variety of media to be displayed within the castle e.g Sculpture, graphic art, light installations, projections, etc.
  • Commissions that ideally people can interact with to encourage social interaction.
  • Each project to be either one large installation or a series of smaller installations throughout the selected areas.
  • Artworks that appeal to our adult audience.
  • Installations that will last for a year and are technically self-sufficient.

The focus should relate to one of the themes and incorporate the sub-themes as listed below:

Initial Provocation (to be positioned along the drive way or entry in to the castle)

  • What was the convention for women at the time?
  • What level of control did they have over their lives?
  • Does this convention still influence women’s lives today?


Perspectives and preconceptions

  • Piecing together the story of Margaret Dawson: protagonist in a story recorded mainly from her husband’s perspective.
  • Beatrix Potter away from Hilltop and the ‘little books’.
  • Some things haven’t changed – convention still influences women’s lives today.



‘Daughters of the north’

  • Both Margaret Dawson and Beatrix Potter had established northern ancestry.
  • Both had families who had recently increased in wealth in the industrial and mercantile north.
  • Margaret Dawson’s family (the Prestons) had repeatedly prospered in the north and sometimes lost wealth / status before – in some cases restoring it through advantageous marriages to wealthy or high-ranking women.



Beatrix Potter: quietly progressive.

  • She came across some gender barriers i.e. not taken seriously in certain scientific circles.
  • She worked around these to achieve her goals i.e. through others including men.
  • She achieved some goals ‘for everyone’ i.e. support of the National Trust.

Target audiences:

The National Trust are particularly interested in attracting the following audiences:

Adult audience A: Busy Intellectuals with a quest for escapism. They are on a lifelong quest for knowledge and believe there are so many new places to see and things to do that they won’t go back somewhere unless something very different is on offer.

Adult audience B: Active thinkers, always questioning and making connections between the things they learn. They have a wide range of interests and take positive steps to create a continual flow of intellectual stimuli in their lives.

Adult Audience C: Spontaneous and social people who prefer chance encounters to making firm plans and love to share their experiences with friends. They are attracted by colourful and quirky.


Wray Castle, Low Wray, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0JA.

Wray castle is a gothic revival castle sitting on the shores of Lake Windermere with turrets, towers and informal grounds. There are several rooms beautiful rooms to be filled with art installations.


This is to be determined. This will be based on the ideas that are submitted. The National Trust are ideally looking for 3-4 projects costing £2000-£3000, or several smaller projects. However, if a submission is significantly more but exceptional then The Nationa Trust would be willing to increase the budget.

Timeframe and process:

Artists are invited to visit the castle during a normal active day to view the spaces available to accommodate their art work and get a feel for how visitors will flow around the space, just get in touch (anna.pollard@nationaltrust.org.uk).

Submission of ideas with estimated cost by the 24th of October

Installation of pieces will start on the 26th of February and must be fully installed by the 28th of February.

Submission details:

Please send your submissions clearly outlining the following areas:

  • Name of project and which theme and sub themes it relates to
  • Lead contact person and contact details
  • Description of project and how it relates to the theme and subthemes.
  • Include any relevant visuals or web links that illustrate and/or support your submission
  • Details of technical and/or structural requirements of the project
  • If required, specific project build requirements and installation timescales.
  • Breakdown of funding – clearly state the total cost of the project and preferred payment schedule.
  • Experience of delivering similar projects – please include photos and details.


Submissions should be submitted electronic format to Anna Pollard, Wray Castle anna.pollard@nationaltrust.org.uk by the closing date of 24th October. If you have any questions regarding the venue that would need addressing prior to submitting initial ideas please contact Anna Pollard on the email address above.

Finally The National Trust would like to thank you for your time and creativity in making your submission.