Rare manuscripts inspire contemporary art at Maggs beneath the Covers in London

By Ruth Hazard | 21 September 2012
The Bucklefoodladder was inspired by a copy of Gulliver's Travels© Gavin Fry
Exhibition Preview: Maggs beneath the Covers, Maggs Bros Limited, London, September 20 – December 31 2012

No 50 Berkley Square in Mayfair is home to the world's leading purveyor of rare books and manuscripts – and now it's the rather unusual setting for an exhibition of contemporary art.

When one of the Maggs Bros directors visited group exhibition, Unravelling the Manor House in Brighton, he was struck by an idea.

The bookseller decided to invite artists to explore the usually private workings and contents of the Maggs Bros company, seeing an opportunity to use the rare antiquarian collection to inspire contemporary art practice.

“We are very excited about this exhibition,” says director Robert Harding.

“It is a celebration both of our incredible collections and the creativity it inspires in this amazing group of artists.”

The exhibition includes a "food-belt-rope-ladder" conjured from Gavin Fry’s readings of Gulliver’s Travels, while Penny Green’s sculpture of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning on their balcony at Casa Guidi was recreated from prints of the couple and their letters.

And it’s not just the art that will prove of interest to literary aficionados. The exhibition offers access to previously unseen areas of the bookseller's historic Georgian buildings, as well as the rare manuscripts that inspired the commissions.
  • Open Monday-Friday 9.30am-5pm. Admission free.
More pictures:

Balcony at Casa Guidi© Penny Green
How to Use the World© Russell Webb
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