Aquatopia: The Imaginary of the Ocean Deep
12 October 2013 – 26 January 2014
This exhibition brings together artists inspired by the sea's mystical allure, from JMW Turner to the contemporary artist Steven Claydon.
Science understands the outer reaches of the cosmos better the ocean floor, for the very simple reason that the sea is almost impossible to study comprehensibly. Sampling the ocean is about as successful as suspending a bucket from a plane through the Amazon rainforest and attempting to analyse the results of a few leaves and a startled parakeet.
This exhibition looks at how artists over the centuries have been inspired by the mysteries of the ocean deep and how, when science fails, art steps in with its own wild and wondrous interpretations.
Sunrise with Sea Monsters, 1846 by JMW Turner. On water, time is different, geography is different, history is different. What lies underneath is as mysterious as what lies ahead. Turner understood that the ocean was a place hampered by inaccessibility and mystique. As a result he populated his paintings with the suspicions of sailors, from mermaids to leviathans.