Other Worlds opened at the Story Museum last week. The exhibition was a year in the making, but it all came together just in time for the public opening. Dark Angels writers, working with visual artists of their own choosing, filled more than twenty spaces in Oxford’s old GPO building with stories.
The writers did brilliantly, and if you go to Oxford to see the show in May allow time to read their words. But, inevitably, with an exhibition it’s the visual appearance that catches your attention. So I’m going to keep the writing short this week and let pictures tell the stories.
First, though, as many of you asked, here’s my story that goes with the mural that Anita Klein painted for the entranceway.
The story angels
Up in the heavens the angels were gathering to tell each other stories. There was a spring in their flight, a lightness of movement as they rose upwards, their voices rising higher too, mingling with the singing of the nightingales as if in a chorus they were composing together. It sounded joyfully, bubbling with laughter, and the angels soared higher and higher in the sky, vying with each other to tell tales of increasing ambition, pushing towards the sun. The proudest and highest of the angels, rapt in her story, failed to notice that she was approaching a cloud dark and thunderous, full of foreboding. Too late to avoid it, she plunged into the cloud’s murkiness, with many angels following unwittingly after, borne on currents of warmth and laughter and applause.
They flew through and beyond the cloud, emerging on the other side of the sky where the world was turned upside down. The fall was steep and the voices of the angels deepened with fear. They plunged, topsy-turvily out of control, pursued by the croaking of crows and the jeering of gulls, birds that knew better how to ride the stormy waves of air. Then, as time passed and the wind softened, the angels learnt to relax and float, bobbing gently on the now-warming streams of air. All the time they carried on speaking, telling stories that changed tone as the sky changed colour. When the ground grew closer, greening with grass and buds and leaves, the stories lost their darkness too. They settled to earth among the snowdrops and crocuses.
And so began again the cycle of the year, with its story, and with it all the stories.
Now here are some pictures to show you some more of the exhibition. Not everyone is included here – I’d urge you to go and see for yourself. The feedback the Story Museum is receiving has been ‘ecstatic’. The pictures start with the legendary artist Roger Dean (Pink Floyd and Yes album covers) who worked with writer John Mitchinson. Then…
The day of the door by Jamie Jauncey and the Flower Appreciation Society
Half heard, in the stillness by Stuart Delves and Catriona Taylor
The word storm by Elen Lewis and Alix Harwood
Are you looking at me funny? by Nick Parker and Brendan Lancaster
National Audio Sneeze Analysis Laboratory by Chris Davenport and Ian Styles
After Davy by Claire Falcon and Michael Hirschl
The time traveller’s bureau by Anelia Varela and David Varela
Where do lost things go by Lizzy Tinley and Murray Allen
The Story Museum is at 42 Pembroke Street, Oxford. Details from www.storymuseum.org.uk/otherworlds