Into the Blue

10 June 2013

A family friendly exhibition and discovery of all things blue, featuring objects from Brighton Museums’ collections.

Into the Blue is a journey of discovery in science, art and history. Using the blue objects as a starting point, you will explore themes inspired by our Natural Science and Art collections and learn many weird and wonderful facts along the way.

How does blue feature in decoration, both for humans and animals? Why is the sky blue, and which creature has the best eyesight? Take a journey into history, science and art through birds and beasts, plants, rocks and reptiles. Explore the evolutionary story of birds, bugs and mammals to discover how creatures see in colour and which colours they see.

The exhibition features an innovative Sound Explorer; an audio-sensory interactive for visually impaired and blind visitors, offering object-specific audio using RNIB Pen Friend technology combined with tactile display objects.


Object Stories

June 2013

Continues until end of September 2013
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Brighton & Hove is often referred to as the gay capital of the UK and Brighton Museum & Art Gallery displays many objects with an LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) connection. However, these histories are often hidden.

Available at the museum front desk, the Object Stories leaflet guides visitors to some of the pieces on display including a Vase by René Lalique, a Delftware dish, and works by Duncan Grant, Alexander McQueen and Grayson Perry. The leaflet introduces their often less well-known LGBT connections and QR codes on Object Stories marked labels provide links to fascinating multimedia content when scanned with a tablet or smartphone.

Visitors are encouraged to share any other LGBT stories they may know of for objects in the museum using the contact details below or by downloading the Royal Pavilion Museums app from the Google Play Store or the App Store. A downloadable large print version of the leaflet will be available on line.



New displays on Regency Colour in the Royal Pavilion

1 May 2013

‘The Pavilion is enriched with the most magnificent ornaments and the gayest and most splendid colours; yet all is in keeping and well relieved.’
JD Parry, An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Coast of Sussex, 1833

Regency Colour and Beyond, 1785-1850, is on show from 15 June to 13 October 2013 and includes two display areas and new interpretation exploring Regency understandings of colour and the interior decor of the Royal Pavilion. The displays will explore Regency colour theory, the different colour schemes used in the Royal Pavilion, why certain colours were used, and the palace's innovative and radical use of colour during this period.

Exhibits will include Regency colour materials, charts and books from the 18 century and early 19 from the Royal Pavilion, and objects such as a Regency artist’s paint box and jars of pigments. The displays will explore how newly-created colours such as Chrome Yellow were first used in the Pavilion, becoming more widely known later on. Regency Colour also relates to the Turner in Brighton exhibition opening in the Royal Pavilion’s Prince Regent Gallery on 2 November 2013.

The displays are in two main sections, one located outside the King’s Apartments on the ground floor, and one on the upper floor, in the North West Gallery. Additional Information about colour schemes will be highlighted in several of the Royal Pavilion’s main rooms.

The Royal Pavilion and the influence of the East (outside the King’s Apartments): this section focuses on colours that were used in the Royal Pavilion during the time of George IV. It explores what influenced and inspired both George and his designers in their design decisions, and what types of artists’ materials, tools and literature were available at the time. Orientalism, Chinoiserie and export art all played a role in the development of the colour schemes. Many Regency fashion trends were inspired by George IV, and the displays will also indicate the general consumer attitude in Regency Britain.

Colour in the 18th and 19th centuries (outside the King’s Apartments): these displays reveal the growing fascination with colour in the early 19th century and the beauty of publications on colour in the times before mechanical and photographic illustration.

Isaac Newton’s ground-breaking publication on colour in 1704, Opticks, and the invention and ‘discovery’ of many new synthetic pigments in the 18th and 19th centuries partly explain the general interest in colour. But this was also linked to the rise of watercolour as an art form, to ideas and ideals about ‘the sublime’ and ‘the picturesque’, and to the foundation of the Royal Academy in 1768. Many scientists produced ‘colour theories’, and artists looked for scientific as well as philosophical explanations and guidelines to colour and colour composition.

The exhibits include an extremely rare copy of a colour theory written by Mary Gartside in 1805, which is illustrated with hand-painted abstract colour blots and may have influenced Turner’s ideas about colour, light, shade and composition in painting. Another book on display will be Syme’s 1814 edition of an 18th century German colour chart, which finds equivalents for colour names in the mineral, animal and plant world. A copy of this book was famously in Darwin’s library on the Beagle voyage.

A typical portable watercolour box and a number of other related objects will complete this display.

Making Regency Colour (North West Gallery): this new display shows the materials used in the production of Regency colours and how they were used on Pavilion wallpapers and decorations. Also on display is new work commissioned from artist Stig Evans, including a film showing graffiti on the Pavilion walls from Regency times and cyanotype prints relating to Prussian Blue, first used during the Regency era. The Regency Colour displays are free with admission to the Royal Pavilion. Regency Colour is curated by Alexandra Loske, who is completing her doctorate on colour in the Royal Pavilion at the University of Sussex and the Royal Pavilion, and Janet Brough, Paintings Conservator for the Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove. Regency Colour is part of Out of the Blue, a collaborative project involving six organisations in Brighton & Hove and Amiens, France, funded by Interreg IVA France (Channel). All of the partners are creating programmes and exhibitions around the theme of colour.



Kaarina Kaikkonen: The Blue Route (Port Magazine)

12 April 2013

Fabrics and the crucifixion seems to collide in the Finnish artist’s exhibition at the Fabrica Gallery in Brighton

Sometimes you have to escape from the bubble. In the constant clatter of the London art scene, it’s dangerously possible to forget there are other cities and other galleries. This week, I went on a small misadventure to Brighton to see what kind of art language they speak down by the seaside. Turns out it’s very quiet.

The internet would have you believe there are a number of contemporary art galleries in Brighton, but a significant number are merely shops masquerading as galleries, or , rather, they’re galleries, but only in the sense that if you put up a few paintings in your VW van it would be a “gallery”. Despite the relative paucity of actual galleries, there were highlights. Closed though it was, One Eyed Jack’s on London Road at least made a game of being a contemporary photography space; but, if you’re going to Brighton and you can only see one show, it should be Kaarina Kaikkonen’s The Blue Route at Fabrica.

A native of Finland, Kaikkonen’s name rings out at a decent pitch internationally: she’s had work in the Venice and Liverpool Biennales, and this is her second work with Fabrica. The Blue Route consists of dozens of second-hand shirts donated by the good people of Brighton and Hove. The shirts are joined together and hang in layers of weary looking catenaries over the floor of the space and over the altar of the deconsecrated church that is Fabrica gallery.

It’s a very apposite work for the Easter holidays. Kaikkonen has worked with second-hand fabrics before, not least in her previous show at Fabrica which involved five hundred cast-off men’s jackets, but the intimacy, and the careworn quality of the shirts is particularly suited to our economic moment – indeed, wandering through the charity shops along North Road and London Road, it was hard not to feel that the old is the new new. Kaikkonen is, no doubt, in the suggestively spread arms of the shirts, also evoking the crucifixion. It might seem a bit glib at first to replace a crucifix in a church with discarded consumer products. Somehow the suggestion of throwing away old cultural and religious identities with the ease of last season’s stained shirts could be read as elegiac or ironic, but either reading belies a deeper possible significance.

Clothing plays a significant role in the Passion Plays of European history, soldiers playing dice for the second-hand clothes of Jesus, Veronica’s cloth which wipes his face on the way to the cross and it is miraculously emblazoned with his image; finally there is the regal purple cloth draped over crosses at Easter to denote the resurrection. Surely Kaikkonen is also writing these narratives into The Blue Route, and, I couldn’t help thinking there might be a commentary about the invisible suffering of the people who will have sewn many of the shirts on display. The poem Shirt by Robert Pinsky touches on those narratives and it came to mind as I looked at the waves of shirts reaching up into the intermittent light from the stained glass windows. Thousands of people seemed to be hovering there too, their narratives literally stitched into the fabric of the work but they are also absent and these blandly mass-produced artefacts are all we’ll know of them.

William Kherbek

Artist's Statement: Kaarina Kaikkonen on the Brighton Festival's Blue Route at Fabrica (Culture 24)

25 March 2013

Artist's Statement: Brilliant Finnish artist Kaarina Kaikkonen on her plan to hang thousands of shirts – many of them donated by the public – in the holy space of Fabrica for this year's Brighton Festival...

“I had an exhibition here ten years ago, when I made another kind of installation. That was made of jackets, but this time it will be made of men’s shirts.

It’s about the dialogue between this building, which is a formal church, and the work. It’s called The Blue Route. I hope it will be beautiful. I have good feelings about it.

I haven’t been to the Brighton Festival before, but I have been reading about previous years and I think it’s wonderful mixing different cultural events.

It’s important that there has been a warm heart inside every shirt. They are used shirts, but for me there is still the energy and history of this person and their being present – the whole attitude of their life and everything.

The shirts are hand in hand – every person is hand in hand, because everybody is very important in creating the structure.

As art, it’s interesting because everybody has interpretations of its meaning.

Everybody has different backgrounds and looks through their own glasses. That’s very interesting to me.

During all the installations I’ve done, I’ve often had a lot of feedback. People have a lot of feelings about the work.

Sometimes they are negative. Sometimes people don’t think it’s art. I accept if people think it is laundry. They can think whatever they want.

There’s a definite spark for the people who’ve contributed. I was in Washington in February and more than 1,000 shirts were collected. People were happy to find their shirt. It makes them part of the interactive process.

My recent exhibition was at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Chile, so some of the clothes donated had belonged to people who had disappeared and been killed during the dictatorships.

Their clothes had a special meaning for the donors. There were shirts worn by fathers who had suddenly died, or loving husbands – not everybody tells a story, but some people want to bring their stories with them and have them remembered.

We tie the shirts up with ropes. It is a long process, but I have assistants. I had 12 in Chile. Many of the shirts are given to us by the public, and some of them are bought or donated from flea markets.

They are going to be conserved after the exhibition. I don’t destroy them – I just borrow them for a while.”

Ben Miller


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