Dark Thoughts – A Journey through the Victorian Imagination

– Posted on Friday 8th August 2014

A collection of work by artist Peter Davies inspired by the art of Victorian storytelling will be exhibited at The Grove Museum in Ramsey on 24 August – 4 September 2014. The collection of intriguing images inspired by Victorian illustration and architecture will be creatively exhibited amongst the collections, rooms and outbuildings.

Peter Davies is fascinated by visual images of the nineteenth century and the narrative and architecture of this time is reflected in his collages, drawings and paintings. Some of his pieces are small scale while other sizeable ones will be assembled to form very large panels each measuring several square metres.

Peter explains his inspiration for ‘Dark Thoughts’:

The pictures and paraphernalia to be displayed at the Grove have been produced over a period of forty years – and were inspired by a bound collection of the Victorian weekly journal ‘The Graphic’.  The book had lost its covers and was shedding its stitching, but the quality of the drawings and the craftsmanship in the wood-engraved illustrations were so high I put these images to one side to examine closely. 

The engraved drawings reveal much about Victorian life and times. In theatrical settings with dramatic poses and gestural body language, the images reveal how people looked and interacted 150 years ago. Because the collaged images held this spell for me I decided to translate the small black and white images into much larger scale colour studies. The result is a collection of stand-alone images, which are put together to form a series of very large single compositions.

Much of the work on show has not been previously exhibited and I believe that the imaginative proposal from Manx National Heritage to exhibit the work amid the Grove’s permanent collection is inspired. The pictures will have a powerful impact when installed throughout the Victorian house and its outbuildings.

Katie King, Community Engagement Officer for Manx National Heritage added:

Peter approached us earlier this year through our new ‘You Exhibit – Community Exhibition’ proposal scheme. We were delighted when he agreed to exhibit his impressive artwork within the setting of the Grove Museum – certainly an unusual exhibition space. The idea of exploring the Victorian imagination and imagery was intriguing, and we will be encouraging visitors to spot Peter’s artworks amongst The Grove’s collections.

During the installation period we will be asking visitors to the Grove to compose their own Gothic tales to accompany the art, as well as attend storytelling sessions and an opportunity for younger visitors to create their own small-scale decoupage artworks.’

The installation has been timed to coincide with the last two weeks of the Grove’s 2014 opening, as the building is due to close early this year in order for emergency conservation works to be undertaken.

Katie explains:

Anyone who lives in a Victorian house will understand some of the difficulties which maintenance presents. Here at the Grove, the fabric of the roof is now around 170 years old and is beginning to fail. The Grove will close in early September to enable works to take place on the roof, and in the meantime we have taken steps to remove some of the most vulnerable original items from the house to temporary storage, in order to protect them from damage by water ingress. We hope our ‘Dark Thoughts’ installation will give the Grove a sympathetic boost before restoration work commences, and that our visitors will be taken on a journey of the imagination.

To launch the installation Manx Macabre Tours will be leading a Dark Thoughts – Victorian Ghost Stories at the Grove Manx Victorian ghost story tour around the Grove Museum and grounds on Sunday 24th August at 8pm. On Thursday 28th August the Family Library will be delivering a Victorian Storytelling session at the Grove for families at 2pm.

‘Dark Thoughts – A Journey through the Victorian Imagination’ will be on display at The Grove Museum, Ramsey from 24 August – 4 September. Standard admission applies, free entry to ACE cardholders kindly supported by Lloyds Bank.

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