Capturing the Brontës: Charlotte Cory brings animals to Brontë Parsonage

By Belinda Maude | 08 October 2013

Exhibition preview: Capturing the Brontës: Brontë Parsonage, Brontë Parsonage Museum, Howarth, until December 31 2013

A photo of a photographic work of art showing animals seated around a table
Charlotte Cory's masterful animalistic art© Charlotte Cory
Featuring Visitorian cartes-de-visites with a bizarre twist, Charlotte Cory, one of the country’s leading surreal photographic artists, has successfully managed to destabilise 19th century photographs by replacing the original heads with those of animals.

Cory aims to explore the visceral spirit of the Brontë sisters. Each character appears to be twisted by their animal counterparts, and several have been directly substituted, including Brontë’s publisher, George Smith, who put his neck out when releasing the untested author’s work, and has been reincarnated as Arthur, the stuffed giraffe.

Similarly, Mrs Gaskell’s brusque nature is re-interpreted as a cockatoo.

A photo of a woman posing outside with a stuffed giraffe
An alternative 19th century universe visits Howarth© Simon Warner
The long-forgotten figures have been reconstructed in fresh fashion here, probing deeper at the unknown areas of the Brontë’s lives. Cory's personality shines through her creations, giving the art its own nature.

Presenting the characters in this way gives viewers an opportunity to get under the skin of the Brontës in unprecedented ways. The exhibition focuses on many infrequently revealed facts, coloured by Cory’s trademark style.

Known best for her Visitoriana - an alternative 19th century universe in which animals dominate the earth - she recycles repetitively broadcasted images with cheeky alterations.

Admired by many, including Her Majesty the Queen, her work has been shown at the Royal Collection at Windsor and the Royal Academy.

Cory claims that each of the locations are of importance to the Brontë family.

“Haworth was home. Harrogate is nearby,” she says.

“It was also the place where you went to take the foul-smelling healthy waters. London, meanwhile, always represented somewhere enticing and alluringly unattainable to the Brontë family.”

Sinister at times, the exhibition is part of the Contemporary Arts Programme at the museum, this time transporting the world of Victorian taxidermy to the present day.

  • Open 11am - 5pm (closed December 24-27). Admission £3.60-£7 (family ticket £18). Follow the museum on Twitter @BronteParsonage‎.

A photo of a photographic work of art showing animals seated around a table
© Charlotte Cory
What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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Visit Belinda Maude's blog and follow her on Twitter @Belinda__Maude.
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I recently visited tbe Bronte Parsonage and found the Corry pieces very distracting. I was disappointed not to see the original items in the house. Is there anyone that actually enjoyed this????
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