THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Inspired by... blog

12 posts categorized "Gothic"

21 October 2014

Top picks from the British Library’s Gothic season

Add comment Comments (0)

Alongside our Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination exhibition, we’re running a packed programme of spooky talks, workshops and a fabulous Halloween LATE. Here are some of my favourites.

Terror and Wonder: Curator-led Tours
Tue 7 Oct 2014 – Thu 15 Jan 2015
Meet our curators and have a personal tour around the exhibition.

Anne Rice’s Prince Lestat: Midnight Book Launch
Wed 29 Oct 2014, 22:00
The Queen of the Undead is back, with her first Vampire Chronicle in over a decade – marking the return of one of the most popular vampires of all time. This is a very rare event: you’ll get to explore our Gothic exhibition after dark, meet author Anne Rice and as the clock strikes midnight, receive your copy of her new book, Prince Lestat.

Late-at-the-library


Late at the Library: The Sorting
Fri 31 Oct 2014, 19:30
A funeral-inspired experience with macabre performances, music, DJs, bar and a late night opening of the exhibition. You are invited to be the guest of honour at an extraordinary funeral: your own! You’ll have an appointment at the funeral parlour with our local undertaker. Run in partnership with award-wining theatre company, Les Enfants Terribles.

The art of the 'Gothic' album sleeve
Sun 9 Nov 2014, 11:45
Hear from two of the world's most talented and prolific graphic artists, Dave McKean and Vaughan Oliver, sharing a platform for the first time to discuss their work on album covers. Dave also created our exhibition artwork. Read his interview here.

Image-by-martin-parr

 
The New Black: from subculture to high culture
Sun 9 Nov 2014, 13:45
Fashion historian, DJ and writer Amber Jane Butchart chairs a panel of innovative designers who are inspired by everything gothic, including Nange Magro, an Italian-Japanese fashion designer and founder of DeadLotusCouture, who has a passion for electronic fashion (and latex).

13 October 2014

Interview with Dave McKean on Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination

Add comment Comments (0)

As I mentioned in a recent post, Dave McKean designed the wonderfully macabre artwork for our Terror and Wonder: The Gothic imagination exhibition artwork. That means that his image appears in all our marketing materials, from leaflets to tube posters. I asked him a few questions...

Mckeandevil

Hi Dave. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I have worked for the past 25 years as an illustrator, artist, photographer, designer, writer, musician, composer and film maker. I've illustrated around 50 books for an assortment of authors including Ray Bradbury, Heston Blumenthal, Richard Dawkins, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, David Almond, SF Said and John Cale, and I've made hundreds of CD and book covers including the entire run of Neil Gaiman's popular Sandman series. I've written and directed three features and several shorts, including MirrorMask for the Jim Henson Company/Sony, The Gospel of Us with Michael Sheen and my new film Luna.

How did you first get involved with the British Library and the Terror and Wonder exhibition?

I was asked to design the previous exhibition, Comics Unmasked, by co-curator Paul Gravett. I really enjoyed working with the British Library, and problem solving on such a large scale. The curators of the Gothic show were also interested in aspects of my work, especially my illustrations for Neil's book Coraline, so then it seemed possible that I could do the poster as well.

Can you tell us about the creative process behind the artwork?

I drew out six or seven rough ideas, trying to find an image that was not a single specific character or story, some way of representing the breadth of work in the exhibition, but touched on key Gothic texts - Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde, and for me, The Hands of Orlac. Something that suggested the psychological aspects of these stories seemed appropriate. I also wanted a simple, bold, almost silhouetted flowing image, something that would stand out in a variety of formats and sizes. The drawing was made in ink and graphite and simply toned in Photoshop. The strange shadowy smoky face was an abstract ink stain, distorted into a face in Photoshop.

What are you particularly excited about seeing in the exhibition?

The design and presentation of the narrative. It was a steep learning curve for me creating the Comics show, so I'm now very interested to see how others approach storytelling in an exhibition space. And of course, I'm sure the British Library archives have unearthed another fascinating collection of work.

What’s coming up next for you? I know you're speaking at one of our upcoming events.

Yes, I'll be speaking with Vaughan Oliver, one of the most important influences on my early art school self, and he still is to this day, so I'm a bit daunted. I have a new film out called Luna, currently doing a small indi tour of the UK via PictureHouse. I have an exhibition of drawings in Paris at Galerie Martel, a new book of covers out from DC Comics called Dream States, and new collection of short stories out from Dark Horse Comics, Pictures that Tick Vol.2, I'm planning a new film with the theatre company Wildworks, and drawing more comics, including a new graphic novel inspired by the wonderful expressionist film the Cabinet of Dr Caligari. I'm hoping to create a new performance piece for the British Library as well, as part of the Gothic exhibition.

You can see Dave's artwork for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination below.

Dave McKean

 

24 September 2014

Meet the Makers: Terror and Wonder in the British Library Shop

Add comment Comments (0)

Next week sees the opening of our latest exhibition ‘Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination’ and once again the Shop area has been transformed. This time, we are entering the study of an old English country house where, by the flickering candlelight, we can see our host opening a leather-bound volume and inviting us to take a seat.

British Library Shop

We spoke to two of the people responsible for supplying the props that transformed this area: Guy Arzi and Cog O’ Two.

Guy Arzi is a designer who uses reclaimed architectural salvage to create modern decorative and functional objects. His repurposed candelabra are perfectly suited for the gothic shop, as they are a modern reinterpretation of a classic icon of gothic melodrama.

Terror and Wonder Shop2

How did you get started in design, and why architectural salvage?

I am a fine art graduate, but I have also studied Architectural Conservation, and I worked as a Conservator for St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.

As a conservator looking after the interiors of some beautiful old buildings you get to look closely at objects and architectural features and you get to understand the materials and the craftsmanship involved in making them.

It seems to me that we don’t make things as we used to, by which I mean the quality and longevity of everything we produce isn’t as good as it used to be. So I feel the need to recreate some of the old craftsmanship, and salvage it from distraction or decay - or maybe I simply can’t resist old objects!

But while working at Westminster Abbey I really started to appreciate carvings and the general wit in old art so it came naturally to me to use reclaimed architectural salvage in my art.

Terror and Wonder Shop3

Is there a particular age or style you like to use in your work?

I like mixing styles a little; it is like how our street architecture is full of buildings from different times. When you mix styles you realize how much these styles are a repetition of themselves but with a little twist. And the streets of London can often be a good source of material that I can rework into new pieces.

ArziLamps

You’ve worked at St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, and you’ve created work for the British Library and The National Maritime Museum, do you enjoy working with museums and galleries?

Yes, I’m a museum junky! I love so many museums across London for so many different reasons - The Wallace Collection, British Library, British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, John Soane Museum, Hunterian Museum, I can go on and on. My all-time favourite museum is the Victoria and Albert; I would love to make a massive work for the V&A.

British Library Shop

 

Cog O’ Two is a real family business. Jon and Micheala and their sons Liam and Nathan produce laser-cut steampunk-inspired props. For Gothic, their aesthetic worked beautifully, being at once antique and modern, ambiguously aged and curiously contemporary. The hanging keys and clock hands help create the ambiance of the gothic study, and the ominous birdcages add a touch of drama.

We asked Jon how Cog O ‘Two came about.

I’ve always been into making things even as a child and probably inspired by my dad who was a keen model engineer and model boat enthusiast. As part of a fancy dress party for my 40th I was persuaded to buy a decent set of Star Wars Stormtrooper Armour and afterwards join The UKG. The UKG ( UK Garrison ) is the UK arm of global costuming group The 501st. Their sole aim is to raise money for nominated charities and have fun whilst doing it – in 2013 the UKG raised over £66,000. The whole family ended up getting involved, Michaela as Ghost Rider with Nathan as Wicket and Liam also as The Ghost Rider, participating at many events all over the UK in a variety of costumes we had made. From there we made a number of props for friends, and since then we’ve just grown.

JonMichaelaNathancrop

Cogtwo

And did you have experience with laser cutting and etching before this business, or did you learn to make these pieces?

Neither of us had any experience other than my attending FabLab Manchester and using their machines, which was a really good foundation in lasers and 3D printing. FabLab was a wealth of knowledge with their staff and volunteers and a plethora of people that popped in to use the machines. So other than learning the basics at FabLab we’re pretty much self-taught.

And it is a real family business, isn’t it?

Liam, our eldest, is 19 years old and he actually created the first cogs we made into sets and sold. Since then he’s designed a number of our products and generally looks after all the cutting and maintenance of the machines. Nathan is our youngest son and is 13 years old, and he helps out with some drawing, selling on the stall when we do events and doing odd jobs around the workshop.

Why steampunk? Was this something you were already interested in, or did it develop through the business?

As well as the UKG, some of our friends within that group were also into Steampunk and we were invited up to Whitby Goth weekend in April 2010. This is probably the second biggest event where Steampunks meet, as there are many crossovers with the Goth scene, and our passion for it grew from there. Our business actually grew through our love of Steampunk, as we’d already made bits for friends in the Steampunk community. Michaela saw an opportunity to take that one step further and provide components that weren’t readily available in a material that was light weight and cheap enough that any Steampunk could afford. Already having the laser at this point made quite good business sense and the machine could be put to good use.

British Library Shop

As well as selling to other Steampunks, who else do you work for?

We’ve created props for The National Maritime Museum, The National Space Centre, The Royal Shakespeare Company, Harvey Nichols, Various TV and Theatre companies, and many high street retailers.

And if money and size was not an issue, what would you most love to make?

A full size Nautilus Submarine from 20,00 Leagues Under The Sea!

Thanks to Guy and Jon for answering our questions. Full length versions of these interviews can be seen on the ExhibeoVM website.

You can also see our full range of Gothic products on the British Library Shop website.

21 August 2014

Brand new Gothic artwork from artist Dave McKean revealed

Add comment Comments (0)

Gothic Terror and Wonder exhibition artwork Dave McKean
We’re delighted to reveal the exciting new artwork created exclusively for our upcoming exhibition, Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination. Designed by Batman Arkham Asylum artist Dave McKean, the new image takes inspiration from the iconic Gothic titles in the show, including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Terror and Wonder celebrates 250 years of Gothic literature and shows how the genre has inspired so much of the pop culture that surrounds us today, from Whitby Goth Festival to catwalk looks created by Alexander McQueen.

Greg Buzwell, co-curator of the exhibition, gave us a quote:  “Dave’s artwork brilliantly captures the drama and intensity of the Gothic imagination, something which we explore in detail in Terror and Wonder. Ever since the publication of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto in 1764, Gothic themes and ideas have provided a rich source of inspiration for writers, filmmakers, artists, musicians and fashion designers; adding colour, wonder and a dash of delicious fear to our lives.”

The new artwork will appear on the exhibition poster across London (look out for it on the tube) and as a six metre high installation in our entrance hall. 

The exhibition opens on 3 October and runs until 20 January 2015. Tickets are already available to book online, and we’ll have a full events programme for you including comedian Stewart Lee, Sarah Waters and a very spooky Halloween LATE.