Art Exhibition: Strange Worlds @ RWA

by Polly Hember

Angela Carter once playfully stated “there is more than one way to cook a goose”. This wry comment attests to the mutable, transgressive, meaty and alternative energy of Carter’s work. Twenty-five years after Carter’s death, Dr Marie Mulvey-Roberts and Fiona Robinson have carefully curated Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter, which allows art, literature, history and music to collide in a fantastical and disturbing fashion in order to explore the enormous impact of author and journalist Carter, carving new discursive space to discuss new perspectives in the ongoing Carter conversation.

Carter’s varied oeuvre touches on many different aspects of life. Her work fiercely engages feminism, gender politics, the Gothic, mysticism, sexuality, fantasy and magical realism to present curious and complex characters who transverse her rich universe at their own peril. From the virginal Melanie exploring her midnight garden of Eden in The Magic Toyshop, to the ravaged and raped Eve/Lyn running across the apocalyptic desert, laced with explosives in Passion of New Eve, to the ludic circus ring of Nights at the Circus, where dancing tigers, literate monkeys, barbaric apemen and insane clowns descend in a whirlwind of danger and excitement, to the streets of Cockney London where aged twins Dora and Nora stagger in stilettos laughing the night away in Wise Children – Carter’s worlds are dense, delightful and every one instilled with a dark magic that consumes and creates her stories.

The exhibition has captured the macabre undertones and the ludic vibrancy of her art. Featuring historically significant works by Marc Chagall, William Holman Hunt, Paula Rego, Dame Laura Knight, Leonora Carrington and John Bellany, the works echo the themes that underpin Carter’s genius. Carter herself was significantly informed by and interested in art; intertexuality, references and allusions are woven tightly into her work so it is quite something to behold the famous masterpieces she cleverly alludes to.

'The Misfits' by Nicola Bealing

The exhibition also features work by contemporary artists who explore similar themes and issues in their work, or who were directly influenced by Carter. Ana Maria Pacheco’s shocking and macabre installation ‘The Banquet’ presents an unsettling conflation of sexual perversion, humiliation, feasting and cannibalism with larger than life creations. Alice Maher, Aileen Cooper RA, Tessa Farmer, Nicola Bealing RWA and more are all presented to explore the themes Carter tackles in her polemic writing; fairytales, the gothic macabre and circus magic and madness are all laid out to converse and collide with themselves in a brilliant exhibition which pays tribute to the compelling creativity of Carter’s brilliant imaginative creations.

Photography by Alice Hendy
Image Credit RWA,no copyright infringement intended

Click on the images in the gallery to see into the Strange World of the Vision of Angela Carter. 

Where RWA
Adults £6.95
Concessions £4.95
Under 16s/SGS, UoB & UWE students Free
Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 6pm
Sunday 11am – 5pm
Closed Mondays, last admission 30 minutes before closing
On until 19th March 2017

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