Why Look at Animals
The Atkinson’s new major exhibition investigates human beings changing relationship with animals.
‘Why Look at Animals?’ opens on Saturday 20 May and takes as it starting point John Berger’s 1977 essay, where he looked at our increasing disassociation from the animal world since the 18th century.
Drawing on much of the Arts Council’s collection as well as The Atkinson’s own diverse work. Visitors will see paintings, sculpture and mixed media work exploring our fascination with pets, and an earlier, less alienated relationship with animals. A wide range of media will be featured including artists’ film, installation art, paintings and sculpture.
John Berger broke new ground with his penetrating writings on life, art and how we see the world around us. He explores how the ancient relationship between man and nature has been broken in the modern consumer age, with the animals that used to be at the centre of our existence now marginalized and reduced to spectacle.
‘What were the secrets of the animal’s likeness with, and unlikeness from man? The secrets whose existence man recognized as soon as he intercepted an animal’s look.
In one sense the whole of anthropology, concerned with the passage from nature to culture, is an answer to that question.’Jon Berger
Artists featured in the exhibition curated by Stephen Whittle; Museum & Gallery Manager at The Atkinson range from Alfred Munnings and Edwin Landseer through to David Shrigley Laura Ford and Peter Doig. There are also drawings and prints by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who were taught by Landseer, on loan from the Royal Collection.
Stephen Whittle, Museum and Gallery Manager said:
“John Berger’s original essay is so insightful and and beautifully written. Some of the artists in the exhibition have responded directly to the essay, others are discussed by Berger. We have added in a range of artworks and natural history specimens that I hope will help to illuminate the text and present a range of responses to our relationship with the animal world”
To celebrate the exhibition and the Summer Reading Challenge–The Atkinson will be theming the summer programme around Animals. Families visiting the venue will be able to enjoy a programme of drop in, free activities working in partnership with local, regional and national animal focused organisations and partners such as RSPB, Coastal Partnership, Freshfield Animal Recsue, Dogs Trust and more!
Look out for the Family films too including Finding Dory, Beauty and the Beast, Sing and Jungle Book. Tickets are only £3.
Why Look at Animals is on display at The Atkinson from Saturday 20 May – Sunday 11 March 2018