Now you see it... 200 years of estate life, saved in porcelain

An artist has harnessed the technology of the 19th century to shed new light on life through the ages at the rambling and historic Welbeck Estate, south of Sheffield.

Artist Clare Twomey with one of the backlit porcelain lithophanes

Clare Twomey’s exhibition, Half in Shadow, Half in Light, has been created on lithophanes – thin, translucent porcelain containing three-dimensional images that can only be seen clearly when lit from behind. The technique was popular in the early 1800s.

Ms Twomey, who is currently lead artist at the Tate Modern, used the A3-size sheets to illustrate “the push and pull of time” on the ducal estate.

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She said: “Lithophanes can show the future held in the glow of the past.

“Just as the lives and work of generations before shape modern life, so too will this old technology frame the telling of modern stories from the estate.”

The exhibition opens at the Harley Gallery on the estate on March 24 and runs until June.

It is being mounted as part of a “Grand Tour” of art, architecture and landscape in area.

The estate also hosts dozens of artists’ studios and the historic art collection of the Dukes of Portland whose family has been at Welbeck for four centuries.