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"Moonrise" Sheds Light on Art - Transcript


00:00            GVs – Scientists in Laboratory
                      Exterior, Barber Institute
                      Interior, lobby of Barber Institute
                      GVs Dr Spencer-Longhurst at desk in library with research materials

Guide Voice - For many people these are the images that University research conjures up. Scientists working away in laboratories – but there’s another, less publicised side of academic investigation that is equally important.

Here at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, part of the University of Birmingham in the West Midlands and at the heart of the UK, academic research focuses on broadening our understanding of the arts. Dr Paul Spencer-Longhurst, Senior Curator at the Barber Institute is researching background to their latest exhibition, "Moonrise over Europe – JC Dahl and Romantic Landscape."

As part of a research University, Dr Spencer-Longhurst and his colleagues see the advancement of knowledge of the arts as an integral part of their work.

00:44 SOT: Dr. Paul Spencer-Longhurst, Snr. Curator, Barber Institute of Fine Arts – “Without research you don’t get the exhibition because, with something where you’re actually coming to a work that’s in the collection that has emerged from a private collection only very recently, very little is known about how it might relate to other works by that artist or other works in general of the period and so, what one really has to do is start with what one’s got, in this case Dahl’s “Mother and Child by the Sea” and then work outwards to put it in the context that we want for the exhibition.”

01:23            GVs Researcher in archives looking for book on Dahl
                      Researcher brings book to Dr Spencer-Longhurst
                      GVs Dahl’s “Mother and Child by the Sea” being hung in the gallery
                      c.u. “Mother and Child by the Sea”

Guide Voice: Johan Christian Dahl, one of the foremost landscape painters of the nineteenth century, has been called the father of Norwegian painting yet remains relatively unknown outside northern Europe. Building this current exhibition around the gallery’s purchase of Dahl’s exquisite “Mother and Child by the Sea”, the exhibition seeks to expand our understanding of the romantic landscape painters of the nineteenth century, locating the Dahl painting within the romantic movement and investigating the fascination with the moon that came to preoccupy Romantic painters, especially in northern Europe, between 1770 and the mid 1800s.

01:59   SOT: Richard Verdi, Director of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts and Professor of Fine Art at the University of Birmingham – “We bought 4 years ago a very great, bewitchingly lovely Norwegian landscape of moonlight by Johan Christian Dahl. He’s Norway’s greatest landscape painter of the 19th Century and completely unknown in this country and it struck me that this was an exhibition waiting to happen. I believe that a University Art Gallery has an obligation to teach and to push the boundaries of knowledge forward and one way of doing that, certainly, is to put the public in front of artists they’ve never heard of and artists you’re bound to suspect they will love and that’s certainly been the case with Dahl.

02:36            GVs of Exhibition Gallery
                      c.u.s various paintings  -

02:39            Coastal Scene (La Nuit) Claude-Joseph Vernet

02:41            The Face of the Moon – John Russell

02:58            View of Stege in Moonlight – Johan Christian Dahl

03:02            Kirkstall Abbey, Yorkshire, by Moonlight – William Henry James Boot

03:20            Moonlight, A Study at Millbank – JMW Turner

03:22            Boats on the Beach near Naples - Dahl                         

03:26            Shots of Exhibition catalogue

Guide Voice : Other artists featured in the exhibition include better-known painters such as Turner, Friedrich and Daumier but it is Dahl’s small but stunning “Mother and Child by the Sea” that forms the centrepiece of this exhibition and is attracting a new and enthusiastic audience to the work of this artist. Attendance figures are impressive and the exhibition has already overtaken previous records, beating the gallery’s exhibition of Turner’s early Seascapes, ‘The Sun Rising through Vapour’, into second place.

The Barber Institute is making a name for itself as a developer of exhibitions based on and highlighting academic research. Previous exhibitions have featured little known 17th century masters Bartholomeus Breenbergh and Mathias Stom as well as more familiar names such as Turner and Rossetti. Their policy of steering away from exhibitions as blockbusters means that they are successfully raising the profile and appeal of lesser-known artists, such as Dahl through their research based approach.

03:34 SOT: Dr Spencer-Longhurst“The exhibitions’ afterlife is through the catalogue and the catalogue is what retains the fruits of the research and the catalogue actually does contain some new material some new insights – its actually pushing out the boundaries of what we know about Dahl and particularly what we know about Dahl as a painter of moonlight in the European context.”

03:59            Wide of painting being viewed
                      c.u. Painting - `”Mother and Child by the Sea”

Guide Voice:A painting as beautiful as this deserves the widest possible appreciation. The work of the Barber Institute is helping to ensure that artists such as Johan Christian Dahl receive that appreciation.

04:10            End

This material is available for use for up to 28 days after the feed date, Tuesday 21 March 2006. For use beyond this period, please contact Research-TV on +44 (0) 20 7004 7130 or email

Page contact: Shuehyen Wong Last revised: Tue 21 Mar 2006
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