Mayflower 400 Southampton

Shadows and Light

24 Oct 2020 – 23 Jan 2021

This exhibition forms part of Southampton’s Mayflower 400 programme, marking the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower on its now famous journey to the New World. Curated by Professor Stephen Foster, it brings together works of contemporary art which relate to light as subject matter. Featuring photography, painting, drawing, sculpture and installation, the exhibition also includes works from Southampton’s fine art collection.

The exhibition title is taken from the Joni Mitchell song, Shadows and Light (1971), which declares that ‘Every picture has its shadows, And it has some source of light….’.  The illuminating properties of colonial settlements casts deep and dark shadows over the world they have helped to forge. The European settlers brought new diseases to the Wampanoag people, whose population had been decimated prior to the settlers’ arrival with the lives of half of the local indigenous population dying, probably from a smallpox epidemic. At the same time, just under half of the settlers died within the first year from the extremely harsh conditions, scurvy and other diseases. The Wampanoag formed a cautious alliance with the settlers, offering to help to grow and catch food, whilst the settlers offered protection against foes. This is generally seen as the start of America as an independent new nation.

The exhibition is not about the Mayflower voyage specifically, but rather is an analogy for the voyage and arrival of the settlers, using historic and modern works of art.

Artists featured in the exhibition include: Roger Ackling, Adam Barker Mill, David Batchelor, Christopher Bucklow, Susan Derges, Ceal Floyer, Mona Hatoum, Dan Holdsworth, Peter Joseph, Brad Lachore, Michael Kidner, Elizabeth Magill, Bridget Riley and David Ward.

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