The route through the castle grounds at Belsay hints gently at the spectacle to come, a pair of horseshoes is set in the side of the footpath and a recording of a horse whinnying rings out from behind the quarried landscape gardens as visitors near the 14th Century castle.
“Where is it? I can’t find it! I can’t see it! ….. Ohhhhh!!” The narrow stone spiral staircase opens into the chill medieval Great Hall of Belsay Castle and the two children now standing before me fall silent. They pause and then one gasps “How did they do THAT?!!” his eyes widen as they absorb the spectacle of the crystal horse in front of him. The horse, solid yet ethereal, is suspended from the vaulted ceiling, its limbs illuminated in turn as the light from the two mullioned windows fades and then shines with the passing of the clouds outside. “It’s magic!” whispers his friend in reply.
It is indeed a magical sight. Stella McCartney’s Horse, Lucky Spot, has returned to the grounds of Belsay Castle in Northumberland five years after its creation for the ‘Fashion at Belsay’ exhibition in 2004. Created from a three dimensional curtain of 8000 Swarovski crystals McCartney took inspiration for ‘Lucky Spot’ from the George Stubbs painting ‘Whistlejacket’, which can been seen on The National Gallery’s website (www.nationalgallery.org.uk).
The crystals, all 8000 of them, are suspended on numbered transparent wires from a horizontal steel panel and, when hung, they create an outline, an image, a dream of a prancing horse which stands three metres high. The cold, glinting crystals in the chill medieval hall create something quite extraordinary. McCartney magic in Northumberland.