As a university art gallery with a collection that spans 1500 years, the past holds a very physical presence and is a constant companion in all of our work. Our commitment to the best in artistic practice of the current moment, alongside our academic investigation and curatorial exploration of the objects of the past, enables a dynamic and critical relationship to exist between the two.
These extraordinary works by Cecily Brown, of wrecked ships, frantic and prone bodies, carefully illuminate the tensions between the past and the present. Taking inspiration from Delacroix’s shipwreck paintings, as well as one of the most feted paintings in the world; Géricault’s, The Raft of the Medusa, 1818–19.
Of course, these drawings also push to the forefront of our minds the images we see everyday on our screens, of shipwrecked refugees attempting, and failing, to make their own sea voyages. At this moment it seems more important than ever for galleries to show work that draws our attention to images and stories that we think we know so well and need not or cannot, look at or think of again.
This would be impossible without the work of artists such as Cecily and we would like to thank her for her generosity in loaning her drawings to the Whitworth and for her productive, artistic insight that will have such an e ect on our visitors. Exhibitions such as these are always the result of connections, conversations and friendships and we are indebted rstly to Thomas Dane for bringing these works to our attention and his support for the exhibition. Our heartfelt thanks are also due to Karsten Schubert, and all at Ridinghouse for this wonderful book.
Dr Samantha Lackey
Senior Curator, the Whitworth