Bendigo Art Gallery
Exclusive to Bendigo Art Gallery, Gothic Beauty: Victorian Notions of Love, Loss and Spirituality draws inspiration from Horace Walpole’s groundbreaking novel The Castle of Otranto. When first published in 1764, this landmark book sparked a keen interest in dark, psychological narratives and heightened emotional states, mostly among middle- and upper-class women escaping dull, sheltered lives. By the early 19th century, Gothic literature had become commonplace, and its ideals – including feelings of horror and escapism, and the beauty and sublimeness of landscape – manifested throughout art and society and continue to endure into modern times. This exhibition draws on works from Bendigo Art Gallery’s historical and contemporary collections, the National Gallery of Victoria, State Library Victoria and Museums Victoria, as well as key loans and new works from contemporary artists who maintain a fascination with the Gothic. Key historical works by Aubrey Beardsley, JMW Turner and Herbert Schmalz (namely, his iconic Too Late) will be shown alongside contemporary artists including Penny Byrne, Bill Henson, Sally Smart, Kate Just, Michael Vale, Julia deVille, Jess Johnson, Janet Beckhouse, Jane Burton, Juz Kitson and more. Highlights include a series of significant mourning objects, including an 1882 child’s mourning dress, first-edition novels by Jane Austen, Ann Radcliffe and Walpole from the collection of the State Library Victoria, a late-19th-century horse-drawn hearse, and a newly commissioned sound work by Australian composer Zoe Barry. Gothic Beauty: Victorian Notions of Love, Loss and Spirituality is curated by Tansy Curtin and Jessica Bridgfoot and runs until February 10, 2019.