Castle Howard’s first ever headline contemporary sculpture exhibition will show the work of artist Sir Tony Cragg against the backdrop of its beautiful gardens, landscapes, and the magnificent house.

In the magnificent setting of Castle Howard, Yorkshire, the knighted British sculptor Tony Cragg is exhibiting over thirty spectacular works within the castle and its grounds.

Tony Cragg at Castle Howard is a special collaboration between the sculptor and Nicholas and Victoria Howard, to mark the first major exhibition of contemporary sculpture to be shown at the historic estate.

Great British Life: The exhibition will be Castle Howard's first large scale outdoor sculpture event. The exhibition will be Castle Howard's first large scale outdoor sculpture event. (Image: Simon Broadhead/

For Cragg the invitation is a special one. 'I am looking forward to it very much. Within the beautiful landscape and historical architecture of this place, between nature and history, it is interesting to see where new and contemporary forms find a place and what role they might play,' he said.

Tony Cragg was knighted in 2016 for his major contribution to British sculpture. His early works from the 1970’s were created from found objects like discarded wood, plastic, tins, cardboard, as in Stack,1975/76 (Tate, London), a vast cuboid-shape of stacked found materials, that started a series.

Cragg gained further attention with his participation in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Exhibition of Contemporary British Sculpture, held in 1977. As the youngest exhibitor his work was displayed alongside foremost sculptors including Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. In that year he had graduated with an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art in London, he began to exhibit, and moved to Wuppertal, Germany, where he continues to live.

Great British Life: Tony Cragg at Castle Howard Tony Cragg at Castle Howard (Image: Charlotte Graham)

Cragg’s work was recognised among his generation of ‘New British Sculptors’ and noted for a unique interpretation of tactile materials in a rejection of representational art forms. These sculptural elements have followed through from the 1970’s to the present day. Cragg calls them his ‘thinking models’. He interprets the layering bonds of a sculpture’s external image as evolving from the dynamism of its internal structure. Fabulous creations are included in this show. Over the Earth, created in fibreglass is shown outside for the first time. Dr Jon Wood, the exhibition curator, describes it as is one of Cragg’s most striking recent sculptures.

'It articulates the kind of dynamic and unexpected forms that we have come to associate with Cragg’s sculptural imagination, in which everything is moving, in a state of becoming, slipping between one state to another. This sculpture is large: over three metres tall with a diameter of over five metres… [and] installed elevated on the historic plinth in the middle of the Ray Wood reservoir. There, it can be seen by visitors from a distance against the foliage of Ray Wood and visitors can then walk up and view it close-up in relation to its watery, reservoir setting.'

Great British Life: Versus by Tony Cragg Versus by Tony Cragg (Image: Michael Richter/Tony Cragg Studio)

The location for this presentation of sculpture is unique. Castle Howard situated fifteen miles north of the city of York was commissioned by the 3rd Earl of Carlisle in 1699. It took over 100 years to complete and for the last 300 years it has been the private residence of the Carlisle branch of the Howard family. It opened to the public in 1952.

Many people know it from the prominent part the stately home played in the film Brideshead Revisited, 2008 and recently a location for the television costume drama Bridgerton, 2020. The interior, permeated with light and space, is sumptuously beautiful, filled with art, tapestries and classical sculpture.

The Howard’s extensive collections create a unique setting for contemporary sculpture to disrupt the architectural spaces within the house, as in The Great Hall with its 70ft-high ceiling reflected in Cragg’s bronze sculptures exhibited here.

Castle Howard’s extensive grounds and gardens are dotted with statues and temple-follies. Visitors receive a map to guide them through the house and gardens to enjoy the presentation. In the grounds the Temple of the Winds limestone garden house, 1724-26 designed by John

Great British Life: Over The Earth by Tony Cragg Over The Earth by Tony Cragg (Image: Michael Richter/Tony Cragg Studio)

Vanbrugh, is utilised to show Eroded Landscape to greatest effect. Jon Wood explains 'Eroded Landscape is a fantastic sculpture and one of Cragg’s key works. It combines his fascination with landscape, geology and layering, with his interest in reworking functional objects - in this case carefully sandblasted glass bottles, cups and different vessels…

'The Castle Howard exhibition is a different experience to a gallery location. On show are a large-scale work in wood, sculptures in bronze, and in glass, and works on paper, that have given Tony Cragg an extraordinary level of appreciation by the public.'

Nicholas and Victoria Howard summed up their collaboration with him

'We’ve always loved the work of Tony Cragg and are therefore delighted that the first contemporary sculpture exhibition at Castle Howard should be dedicated to him.'


‘Tony Cragg at Castle Howard’

Castle Howard Estate, York, YO60 7DA

3 May-22 September 2024

Great British Life: Points of View by Tony Cragg Points of View by Tony Cragg (Image: Michael Richter/Tony Cragg Studio)