Nature Morte

NATURE MORTE, Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, London EC2, until 2nd April 2018

Jim Skull,
Untitled, 2009, papier maché, perles de verre 1930, 90 cm,
Photo C.Lebedinsky

Not, of course the most pleasant of subjects but one which certainly deserves our attention in an exhibition which attempts to show how 21st century artists have brought back to life, if that’s not too unfortunate a term, a genre previously synonymous with the 16th and 17th centuries.

Victoria Reynolds,
Globular Cluster, 2015, Oil on canvas(framed) 42.1 x 52.2 cm overall (16.5 x 20.5 in.)
Photographer Brian Forrest

This is one of the largest exhibitions presented at the Guildhall Art Gallery and features works by Mat Collishaw, Michael Craig-Martin, Gabriel Orozco and Marc Quinn amongst others.  This is its last stop on an acclaimed European tour and will be augmented in London with new works from London-based artists including Clare Twomey and Michael Raedecker.

Mathew Weir,
There and Not There, 2017, Oil on Canvas, mounted on board, 60 x 45 cm (unframed)
© Mathew Weir

One standout photograph by Mat Collishaw is Last Meal On Death Row, Texas (Juan Soria) which depicts the last meals ordered by prisoners on death row and each image is named after the prisoner who ordered the meal. It’s that sort of exhibition, folks!

Saara Ekström,
Clouded Yellow Bud, 2007, stop frame animation transferred on DVD, loop

Nature Morte is based on Michael Petry’s recent Thames and Hudson book of the same name and brings together historic still life paintings and modern works reflecting the language of these earlier pieces.

Alexander James,
‘The Great Leveller’, 2010, from ‘Vanitas’,Chromogenic print, mounted to polished aluminium plate, Face mounted with museum grade ar acrylic, 19 x 25 cm (2)

James White,
Raid, 2013, Oil and varnish on acrylic sheet in, Perspex box frame,
88.5 x 88.5 x 5.5 cm,
Courtesy the artist and Blain Southern


I am grateful to John Kirkwood for visiting and writing about this exhibition

‘Victoriana: The Art of Revival’, Guildhall Art Gallery,

‘Victoriana: The Art of Revival’, Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London, until 8 December 2013


Yumiko Utsu, 'Octopus Portrait' (2009). C-type print.  Copyright the artist.

Yumiko Utsu, ‘Octopus Portrait’ (2009). C-type print.
Copyright the artist.

Queen Victoria’s reign saw the ever growing expansion of empire and industry which in turn led to both economic and social changes. We see the legacy of these times in our architecture, arts, literature and possibly still our moral viewpoint.  Of course, the Victorian age was not perfect and there was a dark underbelly, in which events such as the Ripper murders still fascinate today.


Dan Hillier, 'Mother' (2006). Altered engraving.  Copyright the artist.

Dan Hillier, ‘Mother’ (2006). Altered engraving.
Copyright the artist.

The 19th century was an age of revivalism of styles past, and in this quirky, whimsical exhibition noted contemporary artists have done their take on what our forbears enjoyed.  Be prepared for a multi-media and multi-sensory “Neo-Victorian” show that embraces ceramics, photography, fine art, textiles, furniture and taxidermy.  It certainly is not Great-Great Aunt Agatha’s parlour recreated!

Miss Pokeno, (Allanah Curry), Trophy Chair (2009). Chair with taxidermy. Copyright the artist. Photograph copyright Tim Walker

Miss Pokeno, (Allanah Curry), Trophy Chair (2009). Chair with taxidermy.
Copyright the artist. Photograph copyright Tim Walker