Below the Salt is an exhibition of new works by Catherine Bertola, shown alongside the first inventory of Temple Newsam House, made on 12 September 1520.

Photographs and film have been inspired by the different aspects of Temple Newsam’s 500-year history and the extensive decorative arts collection it contains. They explore how the house has been occupied by people and objects over the course of its history, exposing how hierarchies have been expressed through the architecture and use of materials within the building, segregating those who lived from those who worked.

The 1520 Inventory

This is the earliest inventory of Temple Newsam House, created 500 years ago during the reign of King Henry VIII. The house had recently been built on a grand scale for a powerful nobleman, Thomas, Lord Darcy. It was designed as a centre from which to exert his power. The inventory lists the movable contents contained in different rooms, whilst providing clues to the layout of the house, as it logically moves from room to room. It is in the collections of the National Archives.

Parts of the Tudor house still exist, but the Temple Newsam House that has developed over the following centuries is very different to Darcy’s house. Over 500 years Temple Newsam has been greatly altered, adapting to the requirements of subsequent owners. The accompanying sound work by Catherine Bertola brings the 1520 inventory to life as a Modern English translation read by current members of staff — the people who care for the objects contained within the house today.

The images of the inventory are courtesy of the National Archives ref. E154/2/18.

Out from Within

Beneath the fine silks and woven fabrics that adorn much of the furniture at Temple Newsam, lie layers of unseen materials that provide the upholstered objects with their strength and form. In the Crimson Bedroom, the daybed photographed appears to be unravelling from within, as cotton, jute and linen webbing spill out from underneath. This usually unseen structural support takes on a life of its own and creates its own decorative presence.

The sculpture uses these coarse and humble materials as a metaphor for the house itself. Behind the elaborately furnished rooms, an internal, and often invisible, human machine would keep the building seamlessly working, lugging vast quantities of water, laundry, coal and other goods around the property.

Leeds City Council
Arts Council England
The National Archives
Leeds Beckett University Northern Film School
Copyright © Leeds City Council 2022