Gawthorpe Hall - Flicker by Catherine Bertola


Project Information


From 23 March 2013

Until 3 November 2013


Catherine Bertola BIOGRAPHY


#GawthorpeHall #CHFlicker

Meet the artist: at the Saturday Series Events

Download: the exhibition guide here

Watch: the documentary film here


Plan Your Visit

Plan your visit

National Trust website for Gawthorpe Hall

Lancashire Museums website for Gawthorpe Hall

Project location
Click on the marker for Journey planning

Additional Information

Support us: We are a charity please support our work by making a donation.  You can donate via Paypal by clicking the button below.

Gawthorpe Hall - Flicker by Catherine Bertola

The above image gives an impression of Flicker (c) Catherine Bertola

Wonderful, soft, respectful, curious, mysterious approach to the past. To me it seems to encapsulate "Contemporary Heritage" perfectly. 



Flicker was a new installation by renowned British artist Catherine Bertola at historic Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham, Lancashire. Flicker was commissioned by Mid Pennine Arts and Lancashire County Council's Museum Service as part of Contemporary Heritage.

Flicker was inspired by the artist's first visit to the Hall, when she discovered a family photograph album from the early 20th Century. Catherine was struck by the difference between the rooms as they currently appear and the photographic images. From this the idea developed to try and recreate a sense of how the spaces in the Hall may have looked at different moments in time.

“I am fascinated by how photography captures and preserves fleeting moments of time, allowing us a glimpse into the past from the present. The images in the albums provided a different view of the rooms I had walked through, illustrating how they were once inhabited, filled with the clutter of everyday life as opposed to the stripped back and orderly manner in which the rooms are now presented.

I am interested in how the space can be seen from different perspectives, through the eyes of different people who have occupied the space over the course of its history.”

Camera obscura devices were located in the Great Hall (or Dining Room), the Drawing Room and the Long Gallery. Each lens captured an image of the interior space in which it stood. Into these static images, scenes from the past flickered into view, allowing glimpses of events and people who have occupied the building over the course of its existence - from meetings during the Civil War period, to Victorian dinner parties and children playing in the 1950s.

Alongside each camera obscura was a pamphlet, written by Catherine Bertola, with contributions from Pennine Ink Writers' Workshop, which offered visitors another glimpse of the past in the present. You can download versions of them here: Great Hall (or Dining Room); Drawing Room and Long Gallery.

Watch the documentary film of Flicker here.


Catherine's approach

Catherine’s practice involves creating installations, objects and drawings that respond to specific sites, collections and historic contexts. Underpinning the work she makes is a desire to look beyond the surface of objects and buildings, to uncover forgotten and invisible histories of places and people as a way of reframing and reconsidering the past.

The pieces she has created were made with the involvement of the local community, some of whom live in the vicinity of the Hall. The work acknowledges the Shuttleworth family who called Gawthorpe home for over 300 years, as well as the extensive textile and costume collections housed onsite.

Meet Catherine Bertola

Catherine Bertola was born in Rugby in 1976; she studied Fine Art at Newcastle University, and currently lives and works in Gateshead, UK. She has worked on a number of commissions and exhibitions, nationally and internationally with institutions such as; Museum of Arts and Design (New York, USA), Kunsthalle zu Kiel (Kiel, Germany), Whitworth Art Gallery (Manchester, UK), Oriel Davies (Newtown, UK), National Museum Wales (Cardiff, UK), V&A (London, UK), Artium (Vitoria Gastiez, Spain), Cornerhouse (Manchester, UK), The Government Art Collection (UK), Millennium Gallery (Sheffield, UK), The National Trust and Vital Arts (London, UK).

She has work in several public and private collections and is represented by Workplace Gallery, Gateshead and M+R Fricke, Berlin.


Supported, using public funding, by Arts Council England; ACE Grant for the Arts and Lancashire County Council's Museums Service.

The images above are documentary shots from the photoshoot days, part of the creation of Flicker.

Caught like silver bream

in netted time, we writhe,

against the unreal air -

try to leap, flip, sault,

to appear as we once were

in a flicker of light

Laura Sheridan, Pennine Ink

Quotes from the Visitor Book:

Wonderful, soft, respectful, curious, mysterious approach to the past. To me it seems to encapsulate "Contemporary Heritage" perfectly.

Lovely to see artwork as a response to a setting and not in a blank gallery.

Very interesting and adds to the experience of the visit.

Fascinating. Wonderful to see how each room changed over time.

Flicker was a great idea. You can see the people going about their working lives and you can start to be a part of the picture (so to speak). I think it’s a really good idea and more of this I say. Very clever.

Wonderful, brings the hall to life adds a new dimension to our visit.

Fantastic piece of work, so accessible, informative and aesthetically beautiful.

Interesting, helps to give some sense of the place in history though an authentic view of the time would surely be in colour?

Very interesting. Also enjoyed the introductory film, recommended.

An amazing piece of witchcraft for a technophobic like me! Really good visual supporting knowledge that helped to retain the written information.

Excellent! Brings this amazing architectural delight alive. What a wondeful idea.

Very impressive and thought provoking. An "original" idea.