Above: Join The Circus Caroline Waite 2012

A few weeks ago I found myself immersed in the gothic and other-worldly imaginings of the much loved novelist Angela Cater at  the The Royal West of England Academy exhibition: Strange Worlds, The Vision of Angela Carter.

This influential and much loved writer and journalist wrote about the fantastic and the surreal, with dark myth and fairytale, the colourful and mysterious worlds of the circus and the theatre a recurring theme in her work. She often revisited traditional fairytales by crafting an outcome where the female protagonist triumphs over men.

The exhibition clearly represents the fluid boundary between the written and visual arts; Carter’s inner world was vivid and unique, cross-pollinating with visual artists both by inspiring them and taking inspiration from them.

The show celebrates Carter’s links with Bristol (she studied at university here in the 60’s) and brings the work of contemporary artists together to explore the dark, often taboo themes of her work; gender, violence and sexuality.

These are works, the exhibition guide tells us, which both reflect and have been inspired by her work. The result is an eclectic collection, with diverse works sitting unexpectedly side by side, conjuring up the bizarre and extraordinary landscapes of her imagination. The show includes painting, drawing, sculpture, installations, printmaking, illustrations for Carter’s books, as well as personal artefacts. The result is a fascinating insight into her life and work.

Maxime Wendy Elia 2010 and The Bather Andrew Munoz 2013


The Lesson Heather Nevay 2016
The Fairy Tale Di Oliver 2005 

I was really struck by how the inventive curation of this show gave a narrative into which each individual work slotted, contributing to and benefitting from its peer group. It really did feel like leafing through some of those musty fairy stories I inherited as a child, their full colour plates terrifying and fascinating me as the stories wove their way into my dreams and imagination, and I re-experienced some of the horror and wonder of those dreams as I walked through the show.

I always relish any opportunity to explore the links between word and image, and to lose myself in what came first; who was the influencer, whose visual imagination was piqued. This exhibition is an opportunity to ride the line between the art forms and venture inside the imagination of a highly original and creative writer. It’s on until the 19 March. Do go and see for yourself and let me know what you think.

Strange creatures indeed.

After The Masked Visitor Lisa Wright 2015 Melanie's Night Flight Caroline Waite 2012 Grandma's Footsteps Angela Lizon  2013 

Above: Detail from Season of the Witch Dominic Shepherd 2014

Below: Detail from The Perilous Pursuit of a Python Tessa Farmer 2013 

The Lesson Heather Nevay 2016