All That Was Left

National Trust Plas Newydd, Llanfairpwll 2023

Inspired by The Great Sale of 1905 where the entire goods belonging to the Fifth Marquess of Anglesey were sold at a series of auctions, “All That Was Left” re-ignites Plas Newydd with the spirit of the Marquess. Ghostly echoes of long lost possessions are created in archival tissue and offered with sales tags that attach feelings and deeper stories to each item. Visitors journey through the house, encountering the Marquess’ dancing shoes in the room he may once have looked out of as his audiences arrived and departed; a set of twelve cleaning cloths representing the many lives and livelihoods dependent on the financial wellbeing of the Marquess; and finally a room hung with 77 silk dressing gowns “all of the finest quality” as the ancestors look down and we find ourselves both judging and being judged.

Visitors are invited to question what these possessions represent, beyond mere objects, and to ask themselves what they value and why. At a time when many are struggling to afford ordinary day to day expenses, house repossessions becoming more common, and people around the world are fleeing their homes for a new life with only what they can carry, this question of what we value is as much one for the modern world as a story about the frivolity of the rich.

The exhibition runs at Plas Newydd until November 2023 (check their website for opening times)