FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
MARCH 20, 2017
The Edward Gorey House announces its 2017 Season Exhibit:
Edward Gorey’s Cabinet of Curiosities
A fairly unscholarly stroll through the collections of Edward Gorey.
The Edward Gorey House • 8 Strawberry Lane, Yarmouth Port, MA 02675
508-362-3909 • email@example.com • www.edwardgoreyhouse.org
Contact: Gregory Hischak, Curator
The Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth Port opens up its 16th season on Saturday, April 15th with an exhibit of curiosities from the collection of writer/artist Edward Gorey. Edward Gorey’s Cabinet of Curiosities is a Wunderkammer of objects and art that Gorey filled his Yarmouth Port House with—a wunderkammer being the 15th century pre-scientific predecessor of our modern day museum. All five gallery rooms of the Gorey House have been filled with a trove of objects d’art and objects d’oddity that, for some reason, Gorey felt deserved a place in his home. While some pieces in his collections made it into his illustration, it is safe to say that all of them influenced him and maybe even fueled his imagination.
More Info About the Exhibit
Gorey’s collecting tendencies were eclectic but all of the objects had something in common: Gorey found them interesting—either because they were odd, or mundane or strangely both. Sometimes the sheer act of collecting and juxtaposing objects made them not only interesting but important. Hence, a display of salt & pepper shakers might suggest a lower Manhattan skyline, cheese graters become medieval armour when arranged in battle formation, tools and hardware resemble flocks of birds or schools of fish—if they are chasing something. An Albrecht Dürer etching, hung next to a yard sale acrylic portrait of someone’s pet both elevates and diminishes the other.
From lithographs to yard sale art, antiquities to roadside oddities; toys, rocks, tools, ceramics, tins and, of course—books, Gorey found almost everything interesting—if they possessed character, or a previous owner’s character, or the damage wrought by time. Either intentionally or not, Gorey was following the tradition of 15th Century European nobles and well-heeled scholars in recreating a Wunderkammer. A precursor to our idea of a modern day museum, a Wunderkammer (or Cabinet of Wonders, or a Cabinet of Curiosities) offered a wildly uncategorized selection of natural objects, antiquities, oddities, mechanical devices, texts—idiosyncratic representations of the known world at that time. Appearing in Italy and Germany in the late 1500s, the Wunderkammer spread across Europe, England, and even to the New World—lasting in one form or another well into the 19th century and beyond (as exemplified in Barnum & Bailey traveling shows and carnival freak attractions).
Gorey’s Wunderkammer is a peek through an ajar door into his worldview—found natural objects, materials in decay or soften by use. It is a selective representation to be sure (displaying even half of Gorey’s collections wouldn’t allow room for visitors) but it may offer a tiny insight into what fueled, stimulated and propelled Edward Gorey’s imagination.
Additional Background Material about Edward Gorey
Not English and not 19th century as is frequently assumed, Edward St. John Gorey was born in Chicago in 1925. Shortly after he could walk he drew and shortly after he drew he taught himself to read—an activity that consumed him for the rest of his life, with over 25,000 volumes of books in his Yarmouth Port home at the time of his death in 2000. Working as a staff illustrator for a series of publishers before going freelance, Edward’s The Unstrung Harp or, Mr Earbrass Writes a Novel was published in 1953 (the title character resided at Hobbies Odd near Collapsed Pudding, Mortshire) and subsequently was followed by another hundred titles spanning more than four decades. His unique cross-hatched ink style and the stark Edwardian timeless world he evoked—and the rich humor he saturated it with—define all of Gorey’s work. A proto-graphic novelist, experimental playwright and early auteur of shabby chic—long before all those things were called such, Edward’s influence continues to run deep in American literature, art, creative bookmaking, film and theatre today.
The 2017 hours for the Edward Gorey House are as follows:
April 15 to July 2: Thu/Fri/Sat: 11am-4pm; Sun: 12-4pm
July 5 to Oct 8: Wed/Thu/Fri/Sat: 11am-4pm; Sun: 12-4pm
Oct 13 to Dec 31: Fri/Sat: 11am-4pm; Sun: 12-4pm
Edward Gorey House Admission:
Adults: $8.00; Students & Seniors (65+): $5.00, Children 6-12 years old: $2.00;
Children under 6 are free
Attached images (and more) are available in higher res as needed from the above contact. Page 1, 2 and 4 illustrations courtesy of the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust.
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-- reposted by permission by Glen E., March 2017
The Edward Gorey House, Spring 2017
Photographs by James Edwards