Victoriana: The Art of Revival, Guildhall, City of London

Preview – Victoriana: The Art of Revival.

Dan Hillier, 'Mother' (2006). Altered engraving. Copyright the artist.Part of my mission at the moment is to avoid eating out quite so much and enjoy a few more of London’s cultural offerings. It’s partly from travelling and realising just how special London is and partly simply a desire to lose a little more weight! So, an invitation to the preview of ‘Victoriana: The Art of Revival’ which opens to the public today, at the Guildhall Art Gallery in the City of London, was something I was delighted to accept.  In one of the City of London’s prettier open spaces, I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never actually been inside the Gallery before.

Guildhall, City of London

As a child I was fascinated by Victoriana.  The zenith of the British Empire, the period from 1837 to 1901 was also a time of dark and unsettling concepts in art and literature.  The exhibition is, if you like, a contemporary reflection of the collection of Victorian art in the main gallery.  Covering four main themes – the Neo-Victorian identity, Time Travel, The Cute and Curious and the Reimagined Parlour exhibits range from entrancingly beautiful through to the bizarre and shocking.

You’ll find work by Grayson Perry, Yumiko Utsu and Paula Rego amongst others.

Yumiko Utsu, 'Octopus Portrait' (2009). C-type print. Copyright the artist. Image courtesy of Michael Hoppen Contemporary and GP Gallery

It’s an exhibition to linger over.  The magic is in the detail of the works – what at first glance looks like a portrait of the Queen and Consort turns out to be David Cameron and Nick Clegg (a commentary on their policies on gay marriage), A perfectly cosy fireside armchair is full of stuffed foxes and a beautiful marble statue surrounded by a mobile construction of flying insects. We spent some time running and rerunning the magic lantern. And marvelling at the ingenious alphabet.

Stephen Kenny, 'Drink More Gin (2010). Letterpress print. Copyright the artist.

‘Victoriana: The Art of Revival’ seems very aptly named.

Running from 7th September to 8th December, tickets are £7.00 (concessions £5.00) and the exhibition is open from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and on Sunday from 12-4pm.  there are curated tours on 26th September, 17th October and 21 November, running hourly from 11am to 4pm limited to a maximum of 12 people and there’s a fabulous sounding Gothic Ball on 25th October in the Guildhall’s medieval crypts , with tickets £10 in advance and £12 on the door including entrance to the exhibition.

Guildhall Art Gallery and Roman London’s Amphitheatre
Guildhall Yard


5 / 5 stars     
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  1. says

    I love your description of the art and don’t think much could sound more immediately tempting than an exhibition described as ranging “from entrancingly beautiful through to the bizarre and shocking”. It sounds like an extraordinary selection of work in a beautiful space! Inspiring!

  2. Pamela Morse says

    How very cool to go to this exhibit. I love the Victorians for all the botany crazed adventures that filled Kew Gardens and spread plants all over the Empire…o yes, and the clothing!!!

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