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Bristol exhibition explores the work of writer Angela Carter

23rd December 2016

A new exhibition has opened at the Royal West of England Academy to celebrate the life and work of novelist Angela Carter. The show comes 25 years after the death of the popular writer and explores her very distinctive literary voice.

Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter combines art and literature for an interesting look at the writer's work, with key themes being fantasy, mysticism, feminism and sexuality. It brings together a collection of works that are on loan from national collections, including pieces by Marc Chagall, Paula Rego, Leonora Carrington, Dame Laura Knight and John Bellany.

Contemporary pieces are also being shown that have been created by artists who were either influenced directly by Carter or who explore some of the themes that are common within her writing. These include the unsettling and macabre installation 'The Banquet' created by Ana Maria Pacheco, and pieces by Marcelle Hanselaar, Tessa Farma, Eileen Cooper RA, Lisa Wright RWA and Nicola Bealing RWA.

The exhibition looks at the dark elements and drama behind Carter's imagination, which includes surrealist, brutal and savage elements. Pieces explore the meanings of childhood fairytales and the twisted gothic mysticism that are present throughout her written work. It includes drawings, paintings, sculpture, printmaking and films.

All of the works will be exhibited next to illustrations from Carter's books, as well as manuscripts, personal artefacts and photographs, which give an interesting and in-depth insight into both her life and work. These items enable visitors to see exactly how her work has been such a profound influence on both historic pieces and contemporary artists.It also allows visitors to see what influence art had on Carter and how it inspired her writings and illustrations. 

Marie Mulvey-Roberts, associate professor of English at the University of the West of England and one of the curators of the exhibition told Bristol 24/7: "There can be no doubt that her work was profoundly influenced by artists and works of art. She wrote to a friend of hers that she was so moved by the work of her favourite artist Rembrandt that she could not bear to see it around the house, as it moved her to tears. 

"But she could bear to have posters on the wall of the pre-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millais’s Ophelia, whose drowned heroine is the obsession of the doomed painter Annabel from her novel Love, set in Bristol. This painting is represented in the exhibition in the form of a hologram of a drowning woman called Ophelia’s Ghost by the Bristol-based multi-media artistic duo Davy and Kristin McGuire."

The show opened on December 10th and will be running until March 19th, 2017.

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