Caves and Grottoes: Group Exhibition

25 November 2016 - 12 January 2017
Installation Views
Press release

Since early humans first sheltered in caves at the dawn of civilization, their walls have provided not only protection from the elements, but also sites for creativity, contemplation and reflection. Long since abandoned as dwellings, caves continue to inspire awe and fear, their entrances conjuring primeval feelings of dread and fascination, their depths still seeming to speak to us profoundly, our histories inextricably linked.


Caves & Grottoes gathers together artefacts and artworks from pre- history to the present day, showing how caves have long been - and continue to be - a source of artistic inspiration. Caves represent a liminal space, one that links us intimately to our distant past. Their gaping mouths threaten to swallow us up - to return us to the dark recesses of the earth at the same time as they offer shelter.


Caves embody the paradox at the heart of man's relationship with nature: that which seems to offer succour or protection all too often endangers; for centuries we have sought to recreate caves on our own terms in the form of grottoes. Frequently ornate and bizarre, these constructions encapsulate the human urge to dominate and control our natural environment. Grottoes speak not only to this impulse to control but also to humankind's urge to create, in turn highlighting that art will always imitate nature but it will never replace it.


Including works by:

Cristofano Allori
Benedetto Buglioni
Grigorio Fidanza
Henry Flitcroft
Mike Kelley
John Piper
George Stubbs
Richard Tongue
Gavin Turk


The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue which can be downloaded here.