Unearthed: Photography's Roots

Discover the pioneering story of photography from the 1840s to today, told through stunning still lifes of plants and botany.
Our first major photography exhibition, Unearthed traces the rich history of the medium through depictions of nature, with over 100 works by 41 leading international artists. Unearthed: Photography’s Roots will reveal the fascinating technical processes and narratives behind these images, showcasing innovations in photography by key figures including William Henry Fox Talbot and Imogen Cunningham as well as several overlooked photographers including rare works by Japanese artist, Kazumasa Ogawa and the English gardener, Charles Jones. Jones’ striking modernist photographs of plants remained unknown for 20 years after his death, until they were discovered in a trunk at Bermondsey Market in 1981.

“Nature is a constant, and there’s a reason that artists through the centuries have always returned to it…We can’t help but be inspired because it’s unwavering.”
Curator Alexander Moore, Creative Producer at Dulwich Picture Gallery

The exhibition opens with some of the first known Victorian images by Talbot, with his experiments with paper negatives, and will also feature many works by one of the first female photographers Anna Atkins. Focusing on botany and science throughout, themes range from typology and form to experiments with colour and modernism. The show culminates with more recent advancements in photography, from the glamour and eroticism of artists Robert Mapplethorpe and Nobuyoshi Araki, to experimentations with still life compositions by Richard Learoyd.

Our mausoleum hosts a contemporary installation from renowned video artist Ori Gersht, On Reflection, which reimagines a still life painting by Jan Brueghel the elder, and has never before been on show in the UK.

Fairy Round

This display looks at how artists see fairies. It features sixteen artists from William Blake, 250 fifty years ago, to JMW Turner, to our own times and Mat Collishaw’s magical installation – an optical illusion of sixty-four animated figures in a boisterous fairy ring.

In the eighteenth century, artists painting scenes from William Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream imagined how fairies might look. Their wayward sprites dress in gossamer, petals and insect wings and lark in the moonlight, where a toadstool could be a seat, or a firefly a lamp.

The display is also a rare chance to see Richard Dadd’s Puck, one of the virtuoso fairy paintings that bought him celebrity, alongside the more personal and mysterious fairy scenes that he painted in the psychiatric hospital such A Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke.

These artists’ inventions, from Titania to the first Tinkerbell, form our idea of fairies today.

Festival Images

Festival Images, in Vevey, is the first and main biennale of visual arts in Switzerland. Every two years, it present original photographic exhibitions, outdoors on façades, on the lake and in parks, and indoors in unusual venues, and features collaborations with people who ensure Vevey’s status as a ‘city of images’ all year round.

From 10 September to 2 October 2016, based on the theme of ‘immersion’, visitors will get to discover some fifty indoor and outdoor projects. A feature of the festival is to custom design its exhibition in order to strike the perfect balance between the works and the place in which they are exhibited, whether on museum walls, floating on the lake, on monumental façades or in the nave of a church.

Mat Collishaw’s The End of Innocence is housed in Sainte-Claire Church. The work stages a dialogue between two iconic artworks through a digital recreation: the portrait of Pope Innocent X painted by Diego Velázquez in 1650 and its modern reinterpretation by Francis Bacon painted in 1953. This installation takes the form of a cloud of luminous pixels, where the Irish painter’s work is superimposed on that of the Spanish painter in a continuous interplay of successive fading. Halfway between figuration and abstraction, this hypnotic work evokes the superficiality of the images generated in our hyper-connected societies, in a time when clouds, mobile devices and social media rule our daily lives with an overwhelming influx of images.

Collishaw’s second work in the festival is In Camera, found in the attic of the History Museum/Confrérie des Vignerons. In Camera is designed around the photographic archives of Birmingham’s library, based on a series of 12 negatives from a crime scene, taken on behalf of the British city’s police in the 1930s and 1940s. In the attic of the History Museum, the installation presents each scene reproduced in transparency with phosphorescent ink and exhibited in an individual showcase. Under sporadic flashes, these antiquated images briefly reveal themselves to the eyes of the visitors plunged in darkness. Collishaw takes these archives out of their documentary function to sow confusion into our minds. The absence of all human presence in these scenes instinctively arouses our curiosity: everyone is invited to appropriate the images and draw their own conclusions on the crimes that happened in these mysterious scenes.

On the Origin of Art

Mat Collishaw has created a new zoetrope for the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania, for their exhibition ‘On the Origin of Art’. The exhibition explores the contentious notion that art has a biological origin:

‘Art has a basis in biology. It is possibly adaptive—just as your opposable thumb is adaptive, something that helped you survive and to procreate, and to pass your genes into future generations.’

MONA asked four “bio-cultural scientist philosophers” to guest curate the exhibition: Steven Pinker, Geoffrey Miller, Brian Boyd, and Mark Changizi. Mat was one of several artists who responded to the work of the four thinkers, the work he created especially for this exhibition, ‘The Centrifugal Soul’, takes as its subject the flamboyant mating rituals of several tropical birds. The majestic displays of the tropical birds can be accounted for by Darwin’s theory of natural selection, the more beautiful the display, the more likely it is to attract a mate, and so pass on its genes. The work invites the audience to reflect on this zoological phenomenon, and to consider the possibility of it having an evolutionary relationship to art.

For more information, and to subscribe to updates on this show, please visit MONA’s website here.

L'inconscient Pictòric (the pictorial unconscious)

Gallery of Wonder

A mobile exhibition of extraordinary works of art, touring the agricultural fairs and border shepherd shows summer 2015. Mat Collishaw will be showing a new work inspired by the Pepper’s Ghost illusion used in theatres, haunted houses, dark rides and magic tricks.

The Gallery of Wonder has been funded by Arts Council England, Berwick Visual Arts, Newcastle University’s Institute for Creative Arts Practice and Northumberland County Council.

Exhibited at various venues across the UK – see here for more details.

(Video Credit: Glenn Perry, In-House Films)

Glasstress 2015, Gotika

The State Hermitage Museum and Berengo Studio are delighted to announce a joint exhibition Glasstress 2015Gotika which explores how medieval ideas and communication methods have imperceptibly crept into our modern conscience despite our technological advances and how the Gothic concept influences contemporary art.

The Gothic style, born in European visual art and architecture, was the first international style, the common language and modus vivendi of many nations for at least four centuries. In like fashion, contemporary art has become the international style, the “Biblia pauperum,” understood today from Europe to America, from North Africa to Japan.

The exhibition concept is by Dr. Dimitri Ozerkov, Director of Hermitage 20/21 and of Contemporary Art Department in the State Hermitage Museum. Dr. Ozerkov will curate Glasstress 2015 Gotika with Adriano Berengo of Berengo Studio.

Glasstress 2015 Gotika will combine historical works from the Hermitage collection and newly commissioned art works in glass, all with a Gothic theme.  It will be on exhibit at the Palazzo Franchetti in Venice, a Gothic palazzo in one of the most Gothic cities in the world.  Glasstress 2015 Gotika will also be on exhibit on Murano at the Berengo Foundation in a glass furnace that has not been used for decades.

The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and is one of the oldest and largest museums in the world. In 2007, Hermitage 20/21 was launched to collect, exhibit and study the art of the 20th and 21st centuries.  Hermitage 20/21 is the official sponsor of Glasstress 2015 Gotika.

Berengo Studio was established in 1989 and has focused on bringing visual artists from all over the world to Venice to collaborate with Murano’s famous glass masters.  This innovative cultural initiative has married the extraordinarily rich and enduring Venetian traditions of glassmaking with contemporary art. Glasstress has been an official collateral event of the international Venice Biennale since 2009.

Snape Proms

Snape Maltings Concert Hall
Snape
Suffolk
IP17 1SP

In Search of the Miraculous

An international group exhibition of artists who have made works that have a yearning for the sublime, a pursuit for new experiences, or a romantic contemplation of the sea and what may lie beyond the horizon.

Newlyn Art Gallery
New road
Newlyn
TR18 5PZ

Vanitas - Fashion and Art

Bass museum