Monday, 25 June 2007

Secret selves of the Brontës

A series of striking new paintings by artist Victoria Brookland will be exhibited shortly at the Parsonage, which has been developing a reputation for bold projects with visual artists, most recently Turner-prize nominee Cornelia Parker, as part of its much praised contemporary arts programme.

Secret Self, the new exhibition, features fourteen works by the Leicester based artist, who has used dresses in the museum’s collection as her inspiration, transforming them into powerful evocations of the Brontës’ enduring mystery.

What I found most moving and unsettling about the dresses was the way they evoked thoughts of melancholy and absence, of a great depth of silence and yearning. It seemed to suggest the unspoken aspects of womens’ lives - feelings too acute to be written, voices not heard. Not just the Brontës’ voices - but all womens’. I was struck by the realisation that despite being the most examined and analysed women writers in history the Brontës still retained absolutely their mystery, the secret of their deepest selves died with them - albeit with a wealth of tantalising clues left behind. (Victoria Brookland)

Items of Brontë clothing are amongst the most powerful and popular exhibits in the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and these paintings use images of dresses from the museum’s collection to powerfully evoke the mystery surrounding the Brontës’ unrevealed lives. They accentuate how much there is that we do not know about the Brontës, that we cannot define or contain them. (Andrew McCarthy, Deputy Director, Brontë Parsonage Museum)

The exhibition is part of a programme of events that has recently included a visit to Haworth by the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, an event at the National Portrait Gallery with artist Cornelia Parker and an exhibition of giant photographs produced through a collaboration between local photographic artist, Simon Warner, and a group of visually impaired youngsters from Bradford.

The Secret Self exhibition opens on Sunday 1 July and runs to Sunday 30 September. Admission is included in the normal museum admission charge.

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