I guess the words ‘The Art of Revival’ should have given me a heads-up on what this ‘extraordinary’ exhibition was about before I arrived…..
Just over a week ago I received an invitation via twitter (love twitter) from the Guildhall Art Gallery to attend the Press Launch of their latest Exhibition… ‘Victoriana – The Art of Revival’
Thrilled to have been invited I immediately accepted and before too long my invitation arrived. Now, like I said, the words ‘Art of Revival’ really should have given me a clue as to the nature of the exhibition, but I latched onto ‘Victoriana’ and that was as much as my brain processed. So when I arrived at the Press Launch, sadly after the talks were already over, I headed straight into the exhibition and headlong down the rabbit hole!!!
Expecting to see some Victorian art pieces ‘restored’ to their former wonderful selves…instead I entered into a world so amazing, so bizarre and so wonderfully weird, that I truly felt like my senses had been thrown up into the air and scattered.
As I got to the top of the stairs, the very first thing I saw was the most amazing collection of bees and ants, strung up and hanging from the ceiling like a beaded screen…surreal! That took my breath away, especially when on closer inspection I saw the skeletons of flying insects mounted on the backs of the bees like tiny fearsome warriors! From there onwards my head spun at the surreal & macabre and yet totally amazing pieces I have yet to see.
The exhibition is based on a period of history during Queen Victoria’s reign, known as the ‘Victorian’ era, a period of “empire, exploration, expansion, oppressive colonialism and repressed sexuality” and this comes through very clearly in the extraordinary exhibits of the artisits interpretations with beautiful yet darkly chilling taxidermy; two foxes curled tightly together for eternity, tucked up in the back of a large red-velvet parlour chair!
A tiny, colourful bird served up as a depraved dessert, resplendent in death sleeping on a silver spoon A 3-tier wedding cake fashioned from blonde hair! omg!
The exhibition, suitably hidden in the depths of the Guildhall Art Gallery is separated into 4 sections: neo-Victorian Identity, Time Travel, Cute & Curious and Reimagined Parlour….cue the foxes!
Step into another world, a medley of multimedia and multisensory visions of the past, Victorian art interpreted in a number of ways; from tatoos to corsets and lace, time-travel, science-fiction, fantasy, folktale, collage and altered images.
Once I caught my breath and my brain adjusted to the macarbe scene before my eyes, I meandered from exhibit to exhibit, entranced, revulsed and enchanted by the marvellous creations. I marvelled at the imaginations that created these extraordinary works, some of which I just fell in love with.
My absolute favourite was the ‘butterfly dress’
and truthfully, although I found the ‘stuffed’ foxes to be revulsive, I also found them to be beautiful and briefly covetable….what an ice-breaker at a parlour party!!!
Walking from one to the other, my senses overloaded by the amazing images and creations, I was enchanted by the angels sleeping in a corner, enthralled by the sensory overload of the many wonderful pieces I saw on my wanderings.
The first major exhibition of its kind, ‘Victoriana: the Art of Revival’ features works by artists including Yinka Shonibare, Grayson Perry, Paula Rego, Dan Hillier, Paul St George, Rob Ryan, Kitty Valentine, Otto Von Beach and Jake and Dinos Chapman, including exibits created especially for the show.
From the macabre to the surreal, Victoriana: The Art of Revival is a mind-bending multimedia exploration of Victorian influence on modern works of art.
Now on at the Guildhall Art Gallery till 8th December 2013, the exhibition is open Monday to Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday 12pm-4pm. A ticketed event at £7 with £5 concessions. Please see website for details: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/victoriana
I can highly recommend this exhibition, it is unlike anything you have ever seen….well certainly unlike anything I have ever seen! Amazing and I am definitely making a return visit so I can spend a bit more time studying these amazing creations.
Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, London, EC2V 5AE
nearest tube: Bank – Northern, Central & Waterloo & City lines and DLR
An extraordinary, not to be missed exhibition.
Other events linked to this exhibition include:
Guildhall Gothic – a Victorian ball 25 October 6pm-10pm £10 advance & £12 on the door.
To Book: www.guildhallgothic.eventbrite.co.uk
Tours and Talks – 30-minute tours on the hour from 11am – 4pm on 26 September, 17 October and 21 November. Limited to 12 people per timed entry. Call 020 7332n3700 for more information, prices and to book.
Victoriana on film – a season of films based on Victoriana themes:
Birkbeck Theatre, 43 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD
FREE. 22 October to 26 November; Tuesdays 2pm