On Halloween my good friend, Kathy, and I gadded over to Manchester and the beautiful surroundings of the John Rylands Library to view an exhilarating exhibition, Darkness and Light: Exploring the Gothic. It seemed like the perfect day for a little Gothic and we certainly weren't disappointed.
There can be few better spaces for this exhibition that the John Rylands Library, a stunning building in the heart of modern Manchester. Entering through the modern wing of the building one is treated to a small collection of photographs of modern day goths, accompanied by their thoughts on what Gothic means in the twenty first century world and features a piece by Sylvia Lancaster, founder of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.
From here visitors ascend a modern staircase and catch glimpses of the original building, sensitively incorporated into this new architecture but once you reach the top, you are plunged right into glorious Gothic surroundings, venturing into the cavernous, dark corridors of this magnificent building.
The exhibition takes the visitor through three decades of the Gothic in our culture from first editions of classics including The Castle of Otranto and, of course, Dracula and Frankenstein, to Galvanism and anatomical manuals that lend a rich, dark artistry to scientific diagrams, and blood-chilling surgical implements. In the architectural grandeur of the library, elevations for Strawberry Hill and illustrations of this and other iconic buildings remind us that Gothic isn't just an artistic movement, but a way of life.
As resurrectionists, authors, physicians and artists vie for our attention, the curators bring us into the modern age with recent works of art that demonstrate that the influence of the Gothic is still everywhere, from fashion to film to the art being created today.
|© Kathy Boulton, 1015|
This is an important and inspirational exhibition and for those of us who love the long 18th century, there is so much to enjoy, so many wonderful artefacts of our era that it felt like a very Gothic Christmas had come early. For those who are perhaps less familiar with the movement, illuminating and informative notes provide context, laying out a journey from the origins of Gothic to its place today.
I really cannot recommend Darkness and Light highly enough; it closes on 20th December 2015 and is perfectly suited to these misty days and dark nights!
Photographic content of this post copyright © Catherine Curzon, 2015 except where stated.