WONDER - Where Reality and Imaginary Collide

A journey into enchanting new worlds, unexpected environments & dreamlike realities.

By The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Inspired by the museum’s collection and the city of Coventry, 'Wonder' takes you beyond gallery walls with immersive fun for visitors of all ages. From urban landscapes to re-imagined cartoon characters, a light pavilion and creatures brought to life by augmented reality, be prepared for unexpected and unimaginable wonders!

Wonder - Where Reality And Imaginary CollideThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Presenting largely new works and commissions by seven artists from the West Midlands and UK, visitors are taken on a journey through space, time and media, to explore how art can excite the imagination whilst still being a document of the here and now.

Untitled (2019/2019)The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Lucy McLauchlan’s large-scale monochromatic paintings have covered multi-story buildings across Europe, gigantic billboards in China, huts in The Gambia, Detroit car parks and abandoned NYC subway tunnels. Taking imprints of the Herbert and its physical surroundings, she creates a form of documentation using canvases painted beyond the frame edge, and public murals in the city.

Untitled (2019/2019) by Lucy McLauchlanThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Lucy McLauchlan has created a physical record of the city by taking canvas around Coventry and the area surrounding the Herbert to gather textural imprints.

These have been painted on and added to in the space - by layering marks in direct response to an immediate environment, she created new abstracted environments.

Ophelia (2015/2015) by Davy & Kirsten McGuireThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Bold and innovative, Davy and Kristin McGuire’s work combines mesmerising theatricality with technical wizardry and exquisite craftsmanship. 

Wonder Exhibition View of Davy & Kirsten McGuire, Antonio Roberts work (2019/2019) by Davy & Kirsten Mc Guire, Antonio RobertsThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

This series of storytelling works by Davy and Kristin McGuire is inspired by the seedy, shady underworld of ‘Film Noir’.

Innocence, adulthood and agency | WONDER Interview | Davy & Kristin McGuireThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Inhabited by gritty gangsters, femme fatales, exotic dancers and disillusioned detectives, these characters come alive within a series of intricate, animated, wall-mounted doll houses.

The Street (2019/2019) by Davy & Kirsten McGuireThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

From fairies trapped in jam jars to seductresses kept in dolls-houses to pole dancers hijacking religious iconography.

The Factory (2019/2019) by Davy & Kirsten McGuireThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

The artists play with conflicted ideas of female victim-hood versus female agency, innocent aspirations of childhood versus the tainted reality of adulthood, and the sacred versus the sacrilegious.

The silent dioramas are made even more absorbing when viewers become aware that the artists themselves play all of the characters.

Bell Jar (2017/2017) by Davy & Kirsten McGuireThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

The pieces ask the audience to wonder whether they should gaze in reverence or shame or allow for an all together more nuanced and unresolved perspective.

Aletheia Aletheia (2019/2019) by Edie Jo MurrayThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Edie Jo Murray is a UK-based creative entity exploring the subjectivity of reality from a neurodivergent perspective.

Aletheia Aletheia (2019/2019) by Edie Jo MurrayThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Edie Jo Murray uses augmented reality to explore and discover hidden wonders of the Herbert’s stores and collection.

Perpatuation (2019/2019) by Edie Jo MurrayThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

She uses digital media as a device to examine the artworks on show, and to interact and uncover creatures from the Natural Sciences collection alongside other imagined curiosities.

Showcase 1 (2019/2019)The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

One of Edie Jo Murray's artworks uses a 3D scan of a taxidermy duck from the Herbert’s Natural Sciences collection as a starting point to consider ideas of digital preservation.

Perpatuation, Edie Jo Murray, 2019/2019, From the collection of: The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum
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"I wanted to use augmented reality as a tool to uncover items usually hidden away. Throughout the exhibition, artworks function as augmented reality markers to discover the collection." - Edie Jo Murray

Showcase 1 (2019/2019)The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Similarly, Antonio Roberts distorts characters using illustration software, separating them out into individual parts, to be randomly re-arranged and re-imagined.

Wonderland Wonderland (2019/2019) by Antonio RobertsThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Antonio Roberts is an artist and curator based in Birmingham, UK. His practices explore what ownership and authorship mean in an age impacted by digital technology.

Wonderland Wonderland, Antonio Roberts, 2019/2019, From the collection of: The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum
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In 'Wonderland', Antonio presents taxidermy animals in a strange fantasy environment developed from 3D scans.

Distorting Popular Culture | WONDER Interview | Antonio RobertsThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Antonio Roberts also takes a critical look at imagery and stories promoted to young children in fairytales and cartoons.

Sticker Book (2019/2019) by Antonio RobertsThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

"At a very young age, people are bombarded with images of cute cartoon characters, each story aiming to fill young minds with wonder, promote healthy friendships and encourage creativity." - Antonio Roberts

These stories transported audiences into fantasy worlds, where anything was possible and nothing was what it seemed.

"Who controls how these stories are told and by whom?" - Antonio Roberts

Lighting up the Pavilion | WONDER Interview | Julia SnowdinThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

In Julia Snowdin's 'Light Pavilion', visitors were invited to become immersed in a sensory installation - to play, discover and relax under a canopy of light, colour and experience.

Light Pavilion Light Pavilion (2019/2019) by Julia SnowdinThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Julia Snowdin creates unexpected and unimaginable spaces for communities, families, friends and strangers to come together for a shared experience and to leave with a story.

Light Pavilion Light Pavilion (2019/2019) by Julia SnowdinThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

'Light Pavilion' allowed visitors to play, discover and relax - to walk onto the deck, take a seat or lie down in the middle of the structure, and become immersed in the installation.

Light Pavilion Light Pavilion (2019/2019) by Julia SnowdinThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

"Visitors could interact with the pavilion by touching the buttons and turning the dials to change the lights above their heads." - Julia Snowdin

Wonder Wonder (2019/2019) by Ben JavensThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Illustrator, Ben Javens invited visitors to go beyond the gallery wall like Alice through the looking glass. His work incorporated a salon hang of his illustration pieces alongside works from the Herbert’s collection. Acting as a gateway to a life-size diorama installation, audiences could crawl through a gold-framed aperture to discover a hidden landscape with soundtrack and more.

Wonder Wonder, Ben Javens, 2019/2019, From the collection of: The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum
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Ben Javens is telling a story - a folktale of sorts.

"The main character is somehow trapped within the artworks on the gallery wall. She is surrounded by paintings that have a feeling of days gone by - a world frozen in time." - Ben Javens

Wonder Wonder (2019/2019) by Ben JavensThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

Ben Javens invited visitors to step through the gallery wall into a world that is slightly unsettling, perhaps even a hallucination, as with many folktales.

Wonder Wonder (2019/2019) by Ben JavensThe Herbert Art Gallery and Museum

"I’ve made works in relation to those from the Herbert's collection. This aims to enhance the story of the character trapped in a different world." - Ben Javens

Credits: Story

'Wonder: Where Reality and Imaginary Collide' was a temporary exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, 29 June - 15 September 2019.

The exhibition was curated by Dr Rachel Marsden and features work by Antonio Roberts, Ben Javens, Davy & Kristin McGuire, Edie Jo Murray, Julia Snowdin and Lucy McLauchlan.

The digital exhibition has been put together by Joy Corcec, Communications Officer at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.

#WonderCov

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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