‘Victoriana – The Art of Revival’ inspires contemporary artists to recreate “the meaningful to the macabre” at Guildhall Art Gallery, London through 8 December 2013. Some of the artists included in the show are Yinka Shonibare, Grayson Perry, Paula Rego, Dan Hillier, Paul St. George, Rob Ryan, Kitty Valentine, and Jake and Dinos Chapman.
* To the Victorians, ‘bang up to the elephant’ meant something was so great that it was pretty much unmissable!
Curator’s vision of a “modern space inhabited by ghosts of the past”
Today, we must think the Victorians were a very strange bunch, obsessed with dead stuff, medical oddities, things that really shouldn’t be made of hair, and ornaments of pure whimsy decorating both the guys and the gals.
Foxes seem to have played a big part in Victorian life; Miss Pokeno creepily preserves a skulk of the bushy-tailed creatures twisted into the back of a red velvet “Trophy Chair“, while flowers and butterflies in exaggerated numbers floated around the “Re-imagined Parlour”. Among objects, videos, and decor, there are more than a few octopus-faced (or limbed) lads and ladies such as those in Dan Hillier’s digital art prints.
Of course, it’s a given that any self-respecting cephalopod-armed gent wouldn’t leave the house without his steampunk pistol such as the one designed by Herr Doktor (also known these days as the artist Ian Crichton). This one fires one of two types of projectiles powered by “rapidly vaporised” common water; the alternative cube-shaped ammunition that comes with this gun “…is particularly recommended for use against un-Earthly opponents.”
I really enjoyed this exhibition and highly recommend it; it was fun, quirky, well-presented, and certainly a departure from what one might expect from the fine art upstairs in the free part of Guildhall Art Gallery.
My only wish is that I’d worn my Sunday best to the Guildhall that day…
Oh, and here’s one last recommendation from Stephen Kenny, an artist keen on the revival of letterpress hand-printing:
Oh, yes to the gin, served in a bone china tea cup, please!
More links and information
- Victoriana: Art of Revival – City of London overview
- Click to see BBC slideshow of Victoriana – The Age of Revival
- Review – The Independent – Victoriana: Art of Revival – 15 September 2013 – 5/5 stars – “one’s first thought is, ‘why hasn’t this been done before?'”
- Review – TimeOut London – Victoriana: The Art of Revival – 14 Jan 2013 – 4/5 stars
- Metro – Victoriana: The Art Of Revival is a lively and entertaining exhibition – 4/5 stars
- The empire strikes back: celebrating the Victorians, the first modern masters – by Jonathan Jones for The Guardian – 26 August 2013
- Camden Review: Victoriana: The Art of Revival, at the Guildhall Art Gallery – 20 August 2013
- Eleanor MacFarlane of The Upcoming online magazine writes: Victoriana: The Art of Revival at the Guildhall | Exhibition review- 7 September 2013 – 5/5 stars
- Video tour of Victoriana [YouTube] – presented by curator and director of Guildhall Gallery, Sonia Solicari
- Review – Death, Flowers and Stuffed Foxes – Kate Mason of One Stop Arts – 6 September 2013 – 4/5 stars
- Blog – Channeling our Inner Steampunk – from Ministry of Curiosity
- Is your muff big enough? Introducing Miss Pokeno and the Sisters of Perpetual Resistance – by Bidisha in Huffington Post – 27 October 2013
- Review of ‘Victoriana’ by Stephanie Dubois of A-N magazine – “does not disappoint… very original concept”
- Blog – Victoriana at Guildhall Art Gallery – by Homespun London
- A list of 56 Victorian slang terms that should make a come-back – as in, this exhibition is pure ‘nanty narking’ 🙂
- Related story on kelise72.com: Our Personal History Is What We Make of It
Artist links and websites
- Su Blackwell
- Ian Crichton AKA Herr Doktor
- Tessa Farmer
- Dan Hillier
- Stephen Kenny – Tag Fine Arts, London
- Miss Pokeno
- Chantal Powell
- Paula Rego – Tate Online
- Yumiko Utso – VICE
Exhibition details: The Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, London, EC2V 5AE presents ‘Victoriana – The Art of Revival‘ from 7 September through 8 December 2013. Paid admission, concessions.