What is a stuffed giraffe doing in the hallway of the Brontë Parsonage Museum? If you thought there was not much new that could be said about the Brontës, think again. – Capturing the sisters is a fantastical, yet highly informative exploration of the Brontë story through the lens of Darwin and early photography. This exhibition by one of the country’s leading surrealist photographers cheekily creates an alternative ‘Visitorian’ museum within the Brontë Parsonage Museum and is presented as part of their Contemporary Arts Programme. Brimming with the charm, wit (and cheek) of its creator, Charlotte Cory, Capturing the Brontës re-examines many of the more unusual facts and mysteries surrounding the Brontë family. We see the sharp beaked biographer, Mrs Gaskell, as a cockatoo, wile the cult of Keeper (Emily Brontë’s enormous, faithful dog) is resurrected as Yorkshire’s answer to Grayfriar’s Bobby. Even the servant Tabby’s parkin recipe takes literary London by storm…
Charlotte Cory is best known for her ‘Visitoriana’ – an alternative 19th Century universe in which animals dominate the Earth. Her work is in the Royal Collection at Windsor (one Elizabeth II owns a corgi queen) and has been shown at the Royal Academy. Her complex photographic collages are fashioned from Victorian calling cards (cartes-de-visite) and her own portraits of stuffed animals. By giving new life and meaning to the recycled images, she manages to create a bold new narrative. Cory’s Capturing the Brontës sees Branwell Brontë studying at the Royal Academy, and treasures that never arrived at the Brontë Parsonage – like their mother Maria Branwell’s shipwrecked trunk – are now on display. The surprising presence of a giraffe in the hall, is explained with wit that neatly contrasts with the melancholic reference to Charlotte Brontë’s connection with her publisher George Smith – this is an exhibition to both relish and on which to reflect.
Cory’s work can be seen at three locations, with exhibitions taking place almost simultaneously at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth and at The Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate, before the collection travels down to London in February. As three distinct exhibitions, each location allows a different focus and adds new substance to the family’s story. This is the Brontës as they have never been seen before…
Professor Ann Sumner, Executive Director, said “We are delighted to be working with Charlotte on this influential and original show. The Parsonage will be transformed this autumn and in the lead up to Christmas. Her work is genuinely thought provoking and we know that our visitors will be fascinated.”
Charlotte Cory says all of the locations are of importance to the Brontë family: “Haworth was home. Harrogate is nearby. It was also the place where you went to take the foul-smelling healthy waters… London, meanwhile, always represented somewhere enticing and alluringly unattainable to the Brontë family.”
‘Capturing the Brontës’ is Cory’s endeavour to encapsulate something of the animal spirit of the Brontës and includes a superb schedule of events for visitors to the Museum throughout the exhibition. A fully illustrated catalogue of the exhibition will be available.
‘Capturing the Brontës’ is showing at the Brontë Parsonage from 4 October to 31 December this year.
For more information, click here or call 01535 642323.