News - The Horror Show!

This autumn, Somerset House in London invites visitors to journey into the underbelly of Britain’s cultural psyche...

[PLEASE NOTE - This exhibition contains some graphic and disturbing artworks and therefore may not be suitable for children under 12.]

Press Release

Through some of the country’s most provocative artists, landmark exhibition The Horror Show! presents an alternative perspective on modern Britain. Told in three acts – Monster, Ghost and Witch – it takes audiences on a heady ride through the past 50 years of counter-cultural movements, from the disruptive stance of 1970s punk to the enchanted otherness of modern witchcraft today, showing how through turbulent times, the subversive makes sense of the world around us. ​

​Celebrating the mavericks who draw inspiration from the monstrous, the mystic and the magical, The Horror Show! sets the stage for a spellbinding spectacle of art, music and film with over 150 works and cultural objects from artists including: Gazelle Twin, Tai Shani, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Juno Calypso, Jenkin Van Zyl, Laura Grace Ford, Linder, Cornelia Parker, David Shrigley, Derek Jarman, Helen Chadwick, Marc Almond, Derek Ridgers, Penny Slinger, Noel Fielding, Pam Hogg, Rachel Whiteread, Tim Noble, Sue Webster and Tyreis Holder.​

​The Horror Show! is co-curated by Claire Catterall, Somerset House’s Senior Curator, with Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, artists and filmmakers resident at Somerset House Studios.

Each act of the exhibition represents an era of British history from the past 50 years. Introducing The Horror Show!, Monster explores the political turbulence of the 70s and social division of the 80s, revealing a resoundingly British spirit of rebellion which disrupts and dislocates the country’s cultural identity. ​

​Ghost traces a path through the pressure drop and hollow hedonism of the 90s before hurtling full pelt to the global financial crisis of 2008, charting a turning point and a time caught between a century of old and new, at the dawn of a digital age - the harbinger of the haunted landscape of the internet and of invisible wars and viruses. ​

​Finally in Witch, gone is the paternalistic occult of old, as a new generation reclaims space for a multitude of positions and voices in a hyper-connected global community, embracing a more inclusive dynamic around identity, equality, hybridity and the environment. ​

Each of the exhibition’s three acts opens with cabinets of curiosities, containing artworks, objects and ephemera from the era, connecting significant cultural shifts with the people and events that ignited them. Within each section’s distinct signature design, from architects Sam Jacob Studio and Grammy-winning creative studio Barnbrook, an intoxicating mix of multi-disciplinary pieces are displayed. All three acts include spectacular, immersive installations to discover, and conclude with neon statements from Tim Etchells. The exhibition’s final scene features a striking, special presentation of Turner Prize winning-artist Tai Shani’s The Neon Hieroglyph, inspired by the incredible true story of the Maiara, flying witches commemorated on the remote Italian island of Alicudi. The sculpture, seen for the first time in the UK, will be accompanied by an audio installation by Gazelle Twin specially commissioned on the occasion of The Horror Show! . It will create a dynamic finale space to speculate on the blockbuster show, reflecting on Britain’s rich anti-normative heritage and empowering agitators for new ages. ​

Claire Catterall, Senior Curator, Somerset House, said: “The Horror Show! critically examines the past five decades, taking a playful and unruly look at questions that seem more compelling and urgent than ever. With new commissions and works exhibited for the first time in the UK, this landmark exhibition brings together a leading group of artists like never before, who draw on the deviant and offer us a window in the otherworldly. When the state of the nation so strongly desires us to seek something out of the norm – or even out of this world – it foregrounds the importance of the atypical and adventurous in radically reimagining our collective cultural conscience.” ​

​Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, co-curators of The Horror Show! and BAFTA nominated filmmakers, said: "The harder the times, the more we need Horror. A safe space to face fear. So​ roll up, and let the alchemical archetypes, Monster, Ghost and Witch, guide you through a subversive story of British culture. The radical artists and anarchic troublemakers who shaped who we are, and how we got here. But The Horror Show! isn't a nostalgia trip. It's a tactical toolkit to show us what's possible. A dark mirror in which we might just glimpse the future." ​

​The special exhibition shop, edited by Faye Dowling’s alternative art store, will feature an exclusive range of limited-edition items, including a collectible exhibition catalogue priced at £15, alongside a selection of original and inspired gifts from clothing, silver and leather accessories, crystals and homewares to limited edition prints, books, zines and tarot decks.

The Horror Show! runs from 27 October 2022 - 19 February 2023 at Embankment Galleries, Somerset House, London. For more information and to book tickets, please visit the Somerset House website.

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