'Dreamscapes' - Tim Walker Exhibition Preview at The Bowes Museum

Long captivated by the enticing fantasy of Tim Walker’s photographs, I was delighted to be invited to the preview event of Walker's most recent photography exhibition 'Dreamscapes' at the beautiful Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle. Having enjoyed the hugely successful Tim Walker ‘Storyteller' exhibition at Somerset House at the end of last year, I was intrigued to see how the esteemed curator, former Turner Prize judge Greville Worthington, would interpret and display the iconic work of one of the worlds most visually exciting contemporary fashion photographers.

The Bowes Museum . Image - Musuem Network UK

It is always a challenge to inspire people to look at things they have seen before in a different way, however, by using lightboxes to display Walker’s photographs for the first time, the innovative Dreamscapes exhibition offers a refreshingly different perspective of Tim Walker’s work. On entering the darkened exhibition room, visitors are able to view Walker’s imagery in an entirely new light. I was already familiar with many of the images featured in the exhibition, but never before had I seen them presented with such an invigorated intensity of colour, illumination and fantasy. The 3D effect of the lightboxes really does bring the images to life.

© Tim Walker Images Dreamscapes at The Bowes Museum
Inside the Dreamscapes Exhibition at The Bowes Museum

Many photographs featured in the exhibition were taken in Northumberland, not too far north of The Bowes Museum, inside the rooms of Eglingham Hall and outside in the surrounding gardens and countryside. The Dreamscapes exhibition focuses primarily on the concept of landscape photography, but as the title suggests, not on landscapes as we know them. Walker's work is renowned for an ethereal, dreamlike quality, and with roots in traditions of English landscape painting, elements of surrealism juxtaposed with traditional English scenes make this collection of otherworldly images particularly mesmeric.

Inside/Outside, Eglingham Hall Northumberland (2002)
© 2002 Tim WalkerDreamscapes at The Bowes Museum
Guinevere Van seenus and LinderSterling collage, Eglingham Hall, Northumberland (2011)
© 2011 Tim Walker, Dreamscapes at The Bowes Museum

Some of the images in the Dreamscapes exhibition feature models; an eerily beautiful shot of Kristen McMenamy at twilight and a whimsical picture of Stella Tennant and a pink powder cloud are among my favourites, however other images portray intricately crafted scenes which border on surrealism, taking the inside outside and bringing the outside inside. An image titled ‘Snow in Summer’, a photo capturing an ornate, flower-filled room disturbed by a unexpected flurry of snow, seems fitting considering recent, extreme weather conditions!

Stella Tennant and pink powder cloud, Eglingham Hall, Northumberland (2007)
© 2007 Tim WalkerDreamscapes at The Bowes Museum
Stig the dog and crystal galleon, Stoke Park Pavilions, Northamptonshire (2010)
© 2010 Tim Walker, Dreamscapes at The Bowes Museum

Despite having photographed for the world’s leading fashion magazines, it is interesting that it was never an interest in fashion which motivated Walker to photograph, yet it is through fashion photography that he continues to transgress the boundaries of reality to explore the realms of dreams and fantasy. Although Walker’s work toys with surrealism, the images are very real, created using impressive props and installations instead of digital manipulation. Where the Storyteller exhibition at Somerset House recreated imposing  sets in which to immerse visitors in the spectacular theatre of Walker’s stories, the bold simplicity of ‘Dreamscapes’ heightens the sense of mystery and emphasizes the artistic elements of his work.

Opening speech by curator Greville Worthington
Grand entrance of The Bowes Museum

The preview itself was a wonderful event, and I welcomed the opportunity to look around the museum during a drinks reception and before the opening speech. Meeting Tim Walker himself was certainly the highlight of the evening!  In his opening speech, Worthington acknowledged that the great turnout of guests who attended the preview event indicated that interest in the creative arts is very much alive and kicking, and for me it was a nice change to travel north to The Bowes Museum to view a prestigious exhibition outside of London.

Drinks reception
Meeting Tim Walker

The Dreamscapes exhibition opened at The Bowes Museum on May 25th and continues throughout the summer until the 1st of September 2013. Worthington’s challenge is to get more people to visit the Dreamscapes exhibition than the Storyteller exhibition; an ambitious aim, but where Tim Walker’s photography is concerned, anything is possible. Marvel at Walker’s stunning interior and exterior landscapes and be inspired by settings where dreams and reality are merged into one.

I would like to thank The Bowes Museum for kindly allowing me to take photos inside the museum on the PREVIEW NIGHT ONLY to provide a small glimpse of this exciting exhibition. To see more, you'll have to visit yourself!

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