This was the first of hopefully many study visits arranged for OCA students in Edinburgh. ‘Another World’ is the major summer exhibition at the Dean Gallery, running until 9th January 2011, and the show offers a fascinating overview of Surrealism, one of the most important art movements of the twentieth century. The Gallery owns a world-class collection of surrealist art and also has a library of rare illustrated books, catalogues, manuscripts and journals by surrealist artists.
There was a fantastic response to my proposal for an all-day visit to this exhibition and an enthusiastic group of students took part. In Surrealism there is something for everyone and there was a really good mix of students from different courses – drawing, painting, photography & creative writing. Everyone welcomed the opportunity to visit an exhibition with other students and, although there may have been initial doubt that a whole day could be spent wandering around a single exhibition, there was general amazement that the time could pass so quickly.
As tutor, I provided a guided tour of the exhibition space in the morning to show the birth and development of Surrealism through Dada and on to the iconic Surrealist artworks of the 1920s and 30s, before looking at British Surrealism and the legacy of this art movement. It was a wonderful experience to see works of art only previously seen in photographs – a visual feast of work by artists including Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Lee Miller, Kurt Schwitters, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, Georges De Chirico, Frances Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, Eileen Agar, Paul Nash, Paul Delvaux, Henry Moore, Roland Penrose, Desmond Morris, Dorothea Tanning, Edith Rimmington and many more. We were able to examine iconic artworks such as Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ and Magritte’s shaped canvas ‘Representation’ in detail and looked at a diverse array of work in collage, paint, sculpture, photography and print. It was an also an opportunity for us to consider the legacy of Surrealism in the work of contemporary artists.
Lunch together in the gallery café was followed by much purchasing of postcards of images in the shop, then a discussion in the library on how to conduct gallery research for the logbook, before there was an opportunity to wander around the gallery to sketch and make notes. I was able to keep in touch with everyone over the afternoon to discuss each individual’s response to particular works of art and offer advice on drawing if required. We met together again as a group before the end of our visit to discuss some of the highlights of the exhibition, each person talking a little about their favourite artwork. Having spent all day in the Gallery, there was general agreement that we had only scratched the surface of Surrealism and most of us will try to return if possible before the end of this wonderful exhibition.
I arranged this visit in response to student forum discussions on the OCA website, requesting something for people outside London and there is no doubt that it was a valuable and enjoyable experience. The final conclusion was a unanimous “more events like this please” – so I’ll definitely look at forthcoming exhibitions for ideas.
For anyone interested in this exhibition who can’t visit in person, I recommend the gallery’s website for your logbook research. It can be found at the following link: http://www.nationalgalleries.org/whatson/exhibition/5:368/18379
Jane Mitchell (OCA Tutor)