This winter, The Whitaker welcomes Ruby Tingle, an audio visual artist and amphibian enthusiast in a brand new exhibition Afterlife.
Tingle activates the museum collection by displaying it in a new context, as part of her large scale diorama, creating a temporary “swamp heaven”. Afterlife combines installation, taxidermy, works on paper, music, performance and even scent to create a mesmerising, fantastical faux wetlands inside the museum.
The show was initially inspired by The Whitaker’s famous tableaux The Tiger & The Python but perhaps the key motif here is Tingle’s undeniable fascination with water – bodies of water, wetlands, their inhabitants and herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles). Her interest in the animal kingdom is visible in every part of the work, intertwined with the artist’s own romantic sensitivity and symbolism.
Tingle describes her work as in part being a realisation of a childhood dream of wanting to be “inside pictures”. Temporary settings and environments like dioramas allow her to live in this fantasy for a moment or two. In Aferlife this is focused on her personal experiences in nature which range from slightly frightening to gorgeously dreamlike.
The artist’s music and accompanying videos are a wonderful insight into her artistic style and perspective. She combines a somewhat old-fashioned, vintage image with folk-inspired portrayals of herself in nature, as a nymph or mermaid character. Natural sounds, high range celestial vocals and electronica mix to create “music from the swamp”, resulting in work that can be both romantic and quietly unnerving.
There is an environmentalist’s message underpinning the display too, suggesting that if a heaven can exist here on earth, in nature, then we must do everything in our power to preserve it.
Afterlife will also be accompanied by visits from some special guests around the building (look out for the otter, frog and swamp reaper!) on the following dates: 13, 27 January, 3, 17 and 27 February, and 9 March.