Victoriana: The Art of Revival

Victoriana The Art of Revival

I was somewhat surprised to receive a press invite to the Guildhall Gallery’s new exhibition press preview. It just goes to show what wonders Twitter can do for your presence online and that the old adage ‘you don’t ask, you don’t get’ is invaluable advice. To be clear though, I had not asked for an invite to this event, but was all too pleased to receive one.

So, on the evening of the 6th September, I strolled across the river, into the City, up King and Queen Streets and into the Guildhall Art Gallery. I must confess I had never seen the Gallery before, let alone crossed its threshold, but it is housed in an impressive building on Guildhall Square and houses the City of London’s entire collection of art. Not just the exhibition we were all there to see.

The Victoriana exhibition is not what you might expect; I certainly had in mind images of kitsch Victorian decorations, wallpaper and maybe some doilies when I first saw the title. It soon became clear that this was definitely not the case. This is the first exhibition of its kind that draws together art inspired by the Victorian period. Not art from the period or even in similar style to the period.

The exhibition in fact comprises everything from the wonderfully wacky steampunk devices of Paul St. George via a massive display of photos turning the story of Dorian Gray on its head, pieces by Grayson Perry and finally ending up with a beautiful installation by Mat Collishaw. All art forms are covered and offer something for all ages. I can vouch for this as there were all ages at the preview; from young children who were happy to play with the interactive displays to the older guests pottering enjoying the beautiful artwork and soaking up the slightly surreal atmosphere.

As well as this exhibition, the permanent collection of Victorian art itself is well worth a visit and features a wide range of spectacular pieces. Given how easy it is to access and the quality of artwork on display, it’s a wonder the Gallery is not better know.

Victoriana: The Art of Revival is on until December 8th. Details of the exhibition can be found here: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/visiting-the-city/attractions-museums-and-galleries/guildhall-art-gallery-and-roman-amphitheatre/Pages/victoriana.aspx and the Guildhall Art Gallery can also be found on Twitter @GuildhallArt.

Peter Churchill