Dark imaginings: Gothic tales of wonder


Noel Shaw Gallery, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne

In 18th century Europe a revolutionary shift in literary and artistic expression took place that became known as ‘the Gothic’. Nightmarish images of barbarity, oppression and the supernatural were abstracted from an earlier medieval (or ‘Gothic’) age and fused with a Romantic focus on imagination and emotion, resulting in works of frightening and thrilling originality. Leading exponents of the gothic set their creative works in dark and claustrophobic spaces or wild, threatening landscapes and infused them with melancholy, gloom and fear.

Dark imaginings: Gothic tales of wonder explores the expression of the Gothic from the mid-18th to the mid-19th centuries. The exhibition marks several important gothic anniversaries, including the bicentenary of the first publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the 200th birthday of Emily Brontë, author of Wuthering Heights.

Image: Graphic by Janet Boschen based on: Robert Burns (author) and John Faed (artist), Tam O’Shanter. Edinburgh, 1855. Rare Books, Special Collections, University of Melbourne