The Faerie Land: Michael Drayton’s Vision of Britain
Forum Street, 7 October – 20 November 2015.
The Poly-Olbion Project is proud to be working in association with Flash of Splendour, a not-for-profit creative arts organization that works with music, poetry, story, performance and the visual arts to effect societal change through innovative educational paradigms. It specializes in fostering creativity and self-determination in children and young adults, with a particular interest in those disempowered by disabilities, social positioning or economic hardship. Flash of Splendour commonly focuses on heritage education, and has a longstanding interest in Poly-Olbion.
One product of the collaboration, a groundbreaking exhibition titled “Faerie Land: Michael Drayton’s Vision of Britain”, moves from the Royal Geographical Society in London to Exeter University’s Forum on Wednesday 7 October 2015. Named after Drayton’s alternative title for Poly-Olbion, the “Faerie Land” exhibition is the product of a year-long collaboration between University of Exeter researchers, the acclaimed arts organisation Flash of Splendour, professional artists, and a number of South-West schools, including the WESC Foundation in Exeter. Flash of Splendour coordinated a wide range of workshops and activities devoted to Poly-Olbion through the 2014-15 school year.
The exhibition brings into the same space seventeenth-century images, artwork and film generated through the project’s schools-based workshops, and original pieces by contemporary professional artists. The exhibits as a whole – ranging from a powerful series of self-portraits by children superimposed upon places of significance to them, to an imposing upside-down map of England and Wales by the acclaimed cartographic artist Stephen Walter – reflect powerfully upon the relation between place and identity and the contested nature of the nation through history.
Professor Andrew McRae, Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of Exeter said: “The exhibition is a bold and visually striking attempt to rethink the ‘vision’ of an early seventeenth-century description of the British nation.
“The exhibition is part of a larger project that is an imaginative and innovative effort to combine complex literary and artistic works – and work that is the subject of academic research at Exeter – with a broader educational agenda, specifically with children who have special educational needs.”
The exhibition, and the work that has led to it, has been jointly funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.