The Guildhall Gothic

3 October 2013

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Mother, Dan Hillier, 2006. Photo: Dan Hillier.

I was lucky enough to be invited along to see the superb new Victoriana: The Art of Revival exhibition at the Guildhall Art Gallery in London, which explores the current fascination with Victoriana in all its most macabre and peculiar manifestations.

‘From the macabre to the quaint, the sensational to the surreal, ‘Victoriana: The Art of Revival’ is the first ever exhibition in the UK to offer a major examination of Victorian revivalism in all its forms.

Featuring graphic design, film, photography, ceramics, taxidermy, furniture, textiles and fine art, this multi-media show explores work inspired by the 19th century and created over the last 20 years, highlighting the ongoing influence of the Victorian age.

‘Victoriana: The Art of Revival’ brings together 28 major contemporary artists who encapsulate the many forms and motivations of modern takes on Victorian style. These include Yinka Shonibare, Grayson Perry, Paula Rego, Dan Hillier, Paul St. George, Rob Ryan, Kitty Valentine and Jake and Dinos Chapman.’

I absolutely loved the exhibition, which showcased some truly weird and wonderful examples of Victoriana from typographic prints, jasmine scented profusions of plaster cherubs, subversive takes on Victorian domestic art, tentacled Victorian ladies and a most peculiar take on the traditional sitting room, complete with a winged armchair stuffed with foxes. Yes, you read that right. I seriously enjoyed it.

Art Macabre 2013 (1) Copyright Art Macabre

Art Macabre. Photo: Art Macabre.

Further to this, the exhibition organisers are putting on an evening of Victorian gothic excess on Friday the 25th of October, starting with an after hours view of the exhibition, followed by an evening of all manner of frolicking in the creepy Medieval crypts beneath the Guildhall.

Go Gothic this October, with our special late-evening Victorian knees-up, part of the ‘Victoriana: The Art of Revival’ season of events at Guildhall Art Gallery, which is provided by the City of London Corporation. Dress the part and enjoy the chance to see this autumn’s most talked-about new exhibition after hours. Our Victoriana Art Ambassadors will be on hand throughout the evening to answer any questions as you enjoy a mind-bending exploration of “the most enthralling exhibition of the year so far”

Then venture into the Guildhall’s atmospheric medieval crypts – the largest and oldest in London – for an evening of dancing and cabaret. A pop-up bar will be available, and acts include Victorian strongman Sir Leopold Aleksander, The Mighty Moustache’, the ‘Don’t Go Into The Cellar!’ theatre company, with reworkings of the 19th century’s greatest ghost and horror stories, the ‘Singing Victorians’ and Art Macabre’s infamous drawing salon – RIP boring life drawings, hello death drawing.

The Mighty Moustache. Copyright Sir Leopold Aleksander

The Mighty Moustache. Photo: Sir Leopold Aleksander.

You can kick back with a Victorian inspired cocktail in the bar before taking a turn around the Art Macabre Drawing Salon in the West Crypt, which offers life drawing with a gory difference; the Singing Victorians in the East Crypt, who will be entertaining in the finest music hall style with proper sing-a-longs accompanied by the ukulele, tuba, washboard and accordian; blood curdling theatrics by Don’t Go Into The Cellar! and strongman heroics by the fabulously monickered Sir Leopold Aleksander. Cor.

How superb does that sound? Gin, Victorian flouncings, strongmen and all manner of iniquity – what could be better? Sadly I can’t go as I’m already promised elsewhere that evening but you should definitely go if you can. Tickets are £10 in advance from here or £12 on the door.

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