Press Releases

University Fine Art Department plays prominent role in new Tate exhibition – University of Reading

Release Date : 08 October 2009

The new Tate St Ives exhibition, which opens on 10 October, has a very strong Reading Fine Art connection. The Dark Monarch: Magic and Modernity in British Art is co-curated by University of Reading Fine Art DepartmentHead, Alun Rowlands, and features the work of Dr John Russell, Reader in Contemporary Art and Theory at the University, and practising artist, alongside the work of Damien Hirst, Paul Nash and others.

Alun Rowlands, who has been researching and working on this show for the last eighteen months, alongside his work at the University, said: "Fine Art at Reading has a distinctive history of curating major exhibitions with museums and art institutions both in the UK and internationally. The Dark Monarch at Tate St Ives exemplifies the curatorial research and ethos of the department. Exhibition making is a core activity across the department.

"Our students benefit from experiences and opportunities afforded to them by having lecturers who are involved in such important public exhibitions. This year, students from Reading have performed at the ICA, London; collaborated with Susanne Clausen on her Arts Council film at MERL; and will be contributing to the 150 Years of Art at Reading exhibition at the Museum of Reading."

The Department of Fine Art, which has produced famous alumni such as Turner Prize nominees Cornelia Parker, Richard Wilson and Mike Nelson, has a long history and will be celebrating 150 years of Art at Reading over the coming academic year. The department has also been associated with successful artists such as Walter Sickert and Terry Frost and currently, artists such as John Russell and Marc Camille Chaimowicz¹.

The group exhibition, The Dark Monarch: Magic and Modernity in British Art, takes its title from the infamous 1962 book by St Ives artist Sven Berlin. It explores the influence of folklore, mysticism, mythology and the occult on the development of art in Britain. The exhibition features two-hundred artworks, from the Tate Collection, archives and other significant British public and private collections. It examines the development of early Modernism, in the UK, as well as the reappearance of esoteric and arcane references in a significant strand of contemporary art practice.

The exhibition will include a key work by Damien Hirst ¬ the first time he has been shown at Tate St Ives. Historical works from Samuel Palmer, Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore and Paul Nash will be shown alongside contemporary artists including Derek Jarman, Cerith Wyn Evans, Eva Rothschild, Linder and Reading's John Russell ( an image of his work is available –see Notes).

The Dark Monarch: Magic and Modernity in British Art

Tate St Ives

10 October 2009 – 10 January 2010

Curated by Martin Clark (Artistic Director Tate St Ives), Michael Bracewell (writer and cultural historian) and Alun Rowlands (Head of Fine Art, University of Reading).


Further information

University of Reading - Alex Brannen 0118 378 7388

Tate St Ives - Arwen Fitch 01736 792185

Notes to editors:

The Dark Monarch Book edited by Martin Clark, Michael Bracewell and Alun Rowlands, Tate Publishing pp.220 ISBN 978-1854378743.

Including essays from amongst others Brian Dillon, Philip Hoare, Jon Savage, Jennifer Higgie, Marina Warner and Morrissey.

The Dark Monarch Conference November 20th and 21st. Tate St Ives and University College Falmouth.

There will be range of events associated with this show featuring film screenings, performances, gallery tours, curator's talks and 'The Dark Weekend' for schools and groups. Tate Learning, in collaboration with the curators have programmed an innovative learning resource and activities throughout the galleries.

Image not to be cropped. - To be used only in connection with:

The Dark Monarch

Tate St Ives - 10 October 2009 – 10 January 2010

John Russell

Untitled [Abstraction of Labour Time/Eternal Recurrence/Monad]


Backlit digital print on vinyl

405 x 766 cm

Courtesy of artist and MOT International

The University's Fine Art Department is one of the few Fine Art departments within an old university.

The department attracts students from all over the world and from diverse previous experience and operates as a 24-hour studio community.

The department offers BA courses and a taught two-year MFA (established in 1966). It also offers distinctive joint undergraduate degrees with Philosophy, Psychology, Film & Theatre, Television, and History of Art & Architecture. The courses demonstrate the full breadth of Fine Art as an area of study without division into discrete specialisms.

All members of the academic staff are actively engaged as artists, writers and curators.

¹Marc Camille Chaimowicz, a Reader in the Department of Fine Art also has his major solo exhibition this autumn - November 2009 at Secession, Vienna (the oldest independent art institution in Europe)


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