Victoriana Takes Art Back In Time At Guildhall

The evolution of art means that many modern artist are focussed on minimalism and conceptual works. Yet some contemporary artists draw inspiration from a more classical age, and Victorian revivalism is growing in influence. This exhibition looks at works where artists have taken inspiration from a Victorian era piece and added their own signature twist to it.

Works from over 28 artists are displayed including big names such as Grayson Perry, the Chapman Brothers and Yinka Shonibare.  Particular favourite is Mat Colishaw’s strobing moths attracted to a flame and the always excellent Tessa Farmer’s macabre tableau of insects and fairies crawling all over a Victorian statue.

The past and currently rekindled taste for taxidermy is present with an armchair stuffed with foxes and a voyeuristic wall covered with peacock feathers, creating a set of ‘eyes’ that stare at the passing viewer.

The steampunk genre is also paid tribute with a bizarre mechanical theatre operated by a button, and other contraptions designed by Herr Doktor — the steam pistol and space suit on display are probably what the Victorians imagined the future to look like.

One of our favourites is Barnaby Banford’s stop-motion video that plays out a tragicomic romance between two ceramic figurines. It’s a simple film, both entertaining and heart-warming without the need for any dialogue.

This is a densely packed exhibition that contains many engaging works that capture the invention and imagination of the era.

Victoriana: The Art of Revival is on at Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Square, EC2V 5AR until 8 December. Admission is £7 for adults, £5 concessions. 

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