Call me Ishmael: An Exhibition on the Theme of Moby Dick takes to the Parfitt Gallery, Croydon

By Laura Burgess | 23 February 2011
Moby Dick
Stephen Grimes Storyboards for John Huston’s Moby Dick 1956© Parfitt Gallery
Exhibition: Call me Ishmael: An Exhibition on the Theme of Moby Dick, Parfitt Gallery, Croydon Higher Education College, Croydon, February 28 – 8 April 2011

Herman Melville's Moby Dick is considered to be one of the great American novels, telling the tale of the adventures of sailor Ishmael and his voyage with Captain Ahab on the whaler Pequod in search of the great sperm whale.

Inspired by the novel and the book’s most famous film adaptation - John Huston’s Moby Dick of 1956 - this exhibition brings together responses to the classic by 16 artists.

Grimes was Assistant Art Director on the film during the 1950s, and his collection of storyboards and photographs, taken on set, form the foundation of the display.

Visitors can see Steph Goodger’s Terraqueous (2009), a four-metre multi-panel painting of the first measurable skeleton of a sperm whale. The mammal washed up on Tunstall Beach, Yorkshire in 1825 and Melville took inspiration from the famous incident in Thomas Beale’s book The Natural History of the Sperm Whale. 

A new piece by Oona Grimes and Tony Grisoni, Postcards from the Pequod, is a mutimedia installation set on the deck of the ship where Polanski introduces Poe to Pinocchio.

Angela Cockayne and Philip Hoare’s Dominion, from 2009, creates a dreamlike encounter with the whale by incorporating Cockayne’s chimerical objects, part animal and part sculpture, with the written words of Hoare relating to Moby Dick.

Steven Scott’s new short film traces a distant horizon while playing with representations of space through the subjective nature of perceptioMark Hampson has traced four stories relating to the naming of Moby Dick Roundabout, a black spot on the A13, by incorporating folklore, local accounts and myth making.

The exhibition runs in partnership with the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS), whose first Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove (2009), inspired millions of people to take action and save the oceans.

Award-winning writer Philip Hoare will also present his documentary, The Hunt for Moby Dick, and a special charity auction will take place to accompany the show. Both events are in aid of the OPS.
  • A Charity Auction takes place in the Upper Gulbenkian Gallery at the Royal College of Art on March 4 at 7.30pm (open for public viewing from 10am). The Hunt for Moby Dick takes place in Lecture Theatre 1 at the Royal College of Art on March 11. Admission £5/£4, starts 7.30pm. Visit the gallery online for more details.
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