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Es Devlin OBE has had a fascinating and phenomenal career so far and now she’s back with her newest exhibition ‘Memory Palace’. The exhibition is being displayed at the Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery from now until 12th January 2020 and if you haven’t been yet, you should put it on your to-do list. Her latest work is a large-scale project designed to map out the changes in human perception over thousands of years.
The main aim behind this exhibition is to appeal to collective memory and provoke conversation amongst visitors. So if you’re looking for an intriguing and stimulating day out in London, the Memory Palace exhibition comes highly recommended. In this guide, we’ll take a look through what influenced Devlin in her latest piece of work and what you can expect if you book tickets.
Who is Es Devlin?
Es Devlin is an interdisciplinary artist and stage designer, who is best known for creating large-scale sculptures and immersive environments. Her ambitious works are a mixture of art, theatre music, light and language, used to create a full sensory experience. In the past some of her installations have been displayed in Trafalgar Square, The V&A Museum and Miami Art Basel; she was even the influence behind a Netflix documentary about her art form.
Devlin creates whole new worlds designed to captivate the audience and as a result, she has become one of the worlds most sought-after designers. She has produced stage sculptures for huge names like Beyonce, Daft Punk, The Weekend, Adele, U2, Miley Cyrus and Lada Gaga – to name just a few! Most recently she has been commissioned to create the UK Pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai, making her the first women to be asked to design the pavilion since 1851.
What can you expect from Devlin’s ‘Memory Palace’ exhibition?
Prepare to be moved as you enter Devlin’s immersive installation, designed to map the world-changing shifts in human perspective. You’ll be met with an 18-foot wide sculpture that physically fills the room, within this Devlin has created an atlas of the evolution of thought. The installation is made up of landscapes that depict some of the most important moments in human history, from the first cave paintings in Africa, to modern-day wonders like the invention of the internet.
These moments are laid out chronologically through the landscape that Devlin has created and you’ll become fully immersed in the experience. She has also created a series of rooms in which incredible moments of human history took place and plotted these carefully throughout the sculpture’s familiar buildings and cities. For example, she has included the room in which Confucius wrote the Golden Rule of Reciprocity and re-imagined the street in which Rosa Parks took her seat on the bus. So there are plenty of surprises for you to uncover as you explore the exhibition.
All in all, you can expect to be taken on a journey through time, exploring some of the most important moments in our history. It’s easy to see how and why Devlin wants this installation to evoke conversation, taking on such a huge subject matter and turning it into an immersive world where you almost feel like you’re reliving those moments.
What influenced this latest exhibition?
The exhibition is named Memory Palace in reference to the mnemonic technique in which you catalogue memories with familiar locations to help them stick in your brain. Ultimately, the work is inspired by world-changing shifts in human perspective, but the sculpture itself was influenced by an architectural model from Sir John Soane and a scale model of Devlin’s home town. She recalls that the model would perform light shows and said ‘the windows of individual buildings would illuminate to locate stories told in voiceover’. This was one of the big contributing factors behind her newest instalment.
Infant, the sculpture from her childhood was in itself a type of memory palace in that it shared stories and ideas indexed within memorable buildings from the town. Devlin remembers walking by these buildings in her daily life and recalling the stories she had heard from the model and they were forever etched in her brain. She then took this inspiration and turned it into something on a much larger scale and spanning a much bigger length of time.
The smaller details were determined by momentous occasions, actions and thoughts that Devlin deemed to be the key to evolution and life as we know it. So you can expect to see depictions of the Polish tower where Copernicus drew his first heliocentric map of the universe, the steps in Stockholm where Greta Thunberg began her Strike for Climate Change and the house where Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women. One of the most important parts of the instalment is the representation of the present, as we are now beginning to re-evaluate our choices in the light of climate change.
If you want to find out more about the exhibition or book your tickets, check out the Pitzhanger website, here.