March of the Imagination at Compton Verney ©

March of the Imagination at Compton Verney

March of the Imagination at Compton Verney is this year’s night-time light spectacular at the Warwickshire art gallery.

Just 20 minutes by road from central Stratford-upon-Avon, the Georgian mansion at Compton Verney stands in 120 acres of Grade II-listed parkland designed by Capability Brown.

This year a slice of the estate was handed to artists Neil Musson and Jono Retallick, known as Musson+Retallick, to create a light and sound installation that would wow visitors. They have certainly done that.

What is March of the Imagination at Compton Verney?

You’re given a small narrow-beam torch on entry (attached to a credit-card-sized fob reminding you to hand it back once done) and directed to the reflective installation that begins the moment you step through the exit doors of the welcome centre.

Called Migration, it’s a flowing collection of 4-000 reflective elements.

Shine your torch on the reflective “lights” and they will lead you, like a bunch of friendly will-o’-the-wisp, through the woodland, under the willow tunnel and towards the lake, where the twinkling trail darts magically across the lake and towards the mansion. There are barrier ropes, should you be hypnotically inclined to follow the illuminated path.

Through the willow tunnel ©
Through the willow tunnel ©

Other installations follow once you arrive at the house: a large, golden balloon seemingly trapped in the columns; mechanical devices allowing you to change the colours of the façade; a display of vintage zoetrope, fittingly shown on the ceiling of the Victorian Women’s Library; and trees that suddenly illuminate and then fall back into darkness.

Breathe is a sound and light installation in the Chapel. Industrial-sounding pulses of breath are joined by Halloween-esque surges of bloody light – all nodding towards the functional movement of the body and supposedly meant to question “what it means to be human”. I’m no arty type, but this particular installation moved me. The sudden quickening of “breath” got my own pulse racing, while the return to a steady pace made me feel sleepy and relaxed.

You might also feel sleepy and relaxed next to the fire pits by the main house, where mulled wine, hot chocolate and wood-fired pizzas are available to buy.

When is March of the Imagination at Compton Verney?

March of the Imagination at Compton Verney runs between October 26 and November 11, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, from 6.30pm-9.30pm (timed entry at 6.30pm, 7.30pm and 8.30pm).

How much are tickets for March of the Imagination at Compton Verney?

Tickets cost £10 for adults and £5 for children.

The Stratfordblog verdict

While the impact of 2017’s splashed-across-the-house light show was greater, March of the Imagination at Compton Verney delighted and moved me in a series of subtle and surprising ways, from the moments of serenity found in the Chapel to the child-like joy of seeing how far my light beam could reach across the lake.

If you have never seen these gorgeous grounds by night, now is the time.

Tickets to March of the Imagination at Compton Verney can be booked via the art gallery’s website.


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Information correct at date of publication