Saturday, 23 January 2010

The Dark Monarch Exhibition - Towner, Eastbourne

A new, extraordinary exhibition hit Eastbourne yesterday.

The press release says:

The Dark Monarch: Magic and Modernity in British Art

23 January – 21 March 2010

This group exhibition explores the influence of folklore, mysticism, mythology and the occult on the development of art in Britain. Focusing on works from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present day it will consider, in particular, the relationship they have to the landscape and legends of the British Isles.

Taking its title from the infamous 1962 book by St Ives artist Sven Berlin, the exhibition features major loans from the Tate Collection, regional collections, lenders and artists, and will examine the development of early Modernism, Surrealism and Neo-Romanticism in the UK, as well as the reappearance of esoteric and arcane references in a significant strand of contemporary art practice.
We went along, by invitation, and were blown away. If you know us, you'll be aware how important this kind of collection is to us.

There were works by geniuses Austin Osman Spare and Graham Sutherland as well as Paul Nash, Barbara Hepworth, Bryan Wynter and Ithell Colquhoun, plus many more, including local artist Eric Ravilious.

We looked at the esoteric bookshelves that are part of the exhibition and almost had to check that our own library hadn't been invaded - which of course it hadn't because, sadly, we don't own first editions.

Towner were holding people back at the door, because they were at capacity. But once we were in, we fell in deep. The exhibition is on the ground and top floors. Much of it left an exquisite taste in our senses, bar a couple of contrived photographs and, sadly, Damien Hirst's Unicorn.

Well worth it. We're going to pay again, and probably again, to go back.

Go see it. Towner Eastbourne.

Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm; closed Mondays except Bank Holidays.

Admission to The Dark Monarch: £5.50 / £4 concessions / under 18s free. Admission to Towner and other exhibitions: free of charge.

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Lily Childs is a writer of horror, esoteric, mystery and chilling fiction.

If you see her dancing outside in a thunder storm - don't try to bring her in. She's safe.