Surreal but brilliant exhibition at Mercer Art Gallery

tis   Curator of Art Jane Sellars with some of the work on display by Charlotte Cory at the Mercer Art Gallery.  (130912M3)
tis Curator of Art Jane Sellars with some of the work on display by Charlotte Cory at the Mercer Art Gallery. (130912M3)
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By Weekend Editor Graham Chalmers

The Brontes with a twist - leading surrealist photographer Charlotte Cory’s new exhibition at Mercer Art Gallery is a little odd but utterly brilliant.

Inspired by her love of the writings of the Brontës and their Haworth Parsonage home, the multi-talented Cory has created a truly memorable piece of installation art- an entire museum within a museum.

Packed full of impressively handcrafted detail, Capturing The Brontes utilises all of Cory’s literary knowledge, artistic talents and great wit to create a slightly bizarre but utterly charming 19th century world all of her own.

The Mercer Art Gallery exhibition features complex photographic collages fashioned from Victorian calling cards (cartes-de-visite) and her own portraits of stuffed animals. Not to forget an actual stuffed giraffe.

Organized in partnership with the Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth and the Long and Ryle Gallery in London, the result is a fantastic and fantasical alternative history.

So impressive is the creation of each item in this ‘fake’ museum, it is possible to believe many artifacts and memorabilia of the people and events surrounding the famous Brontes visitors are seeing are, in fact, real.

Cory’s alternative history shows Branwell Brontë studying at the Royal Academy, and includes treasures that never arrived at the Brontë Parsonage such as their mother Maria Branwell’s shipwrecked trunk which looks authentically weather-beaten and age-battered.

In a direct connection to Mercer Art Gallery, Cory daringly tampers with the image of one of William Powell Frith’s most famous paintings, Many Happy Returns of the Day, transforming the members of the Frith family into birds and animals with her own particular brand of photo-collage.

Such are the versatile Cory’s talents as an artist/photographer/playwright she has earned a national reputation.

Her work is on show in the Royal Collection at Windsor (the Queen owns Cory’s corgi queen) and has been shown at the Royal Academy.

As part of the new exhibition, Mercer Art Gallery and the Brontë Parsonage Museum are organising a joint programme of talks and events to be held at both venues.

These include Charlotte Cory in Conversation on October 23 at 2pm in West Lane Baptist Centre, Haworth and on November 7 at Mercer Art Gallery with Jane Sellars, Curator of Art at The Mercer Gallery.

Capturing the Brontes runs until January 12, 2014.

The Mercer Art Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm, Sundays from 2pm to 5pm. The gallery closes at 4pm from November to March.

Admission is free.

For more information, visit www.harrogate.gov.uk/mercerartgallery or follow Twitter @MercerGallery and on Facebook www.facebook.com/mercergallery