20 July 2013 – 22 September 2013
This major exhibition brings together over 150 contemporary and historic artworks that explore how the deep has been imagined through time and across cultures. Sea monsters, sirens, sperm whales, giant squids, octopi, submarines, drowned sailors and shipwrecks are all portrayed here by many of art history’s “greats” JMW Turner, Odilon Redon, Hokusai, Barbara Hepworth and Oskar Kokoshka among them. Steve Claydon, Wangechi Mutu, Juergen Teller, Alex Bag, Christian Holstad and Mikhail Karikis are some of the many celebrated contemporary artists amongst whose oceanic – inspired artworks are shown here too.
The imaginary oceans these artworks explore represent both the limits of our knowledge and the crossing of existential thresholds. Oceans are places of metamorphosis where “we suffer a sea change into something rich and strange”, according to Shakespeare in the Tempest. Our wild imaginings about the ocean aren’t simply escapist. The ocean is the keeper of political histories that continually resurface in the present day. Ocean myths both ancient and contemporary have been shaped by conquest and colonialism, and by the tide of gender politics too.
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