The South West section of a specially commissioned map of England and Wales by artist-cartographer Stephen Walter. The map will be on display at the exhibition from Monday, October 13.

Faerie Land exhibition to transform University of Exeter Forum

A groundbreaking exhibition inspired by the prominent English Renaissance poet Michael Drayton will open to the public at the University of Exeter on 7 October 2015. The free exhibition will take place in the Forum Street and will run until 20 November.

Previously on display at the Royal Geographical Society in London, the ‘Faerie Land: Michael Drayton’s Vision of Britain’ exhibition is dedicated to Drayton’s 15,000-line poem, Poly-Olbion, which describes the landscape, history and traditions of early modern England and Wales, county by county. The poem was published in 1612 and 1622, accompanied by unique decorative county maps by William Hole.

Named after Drayton’s alternative title for Poly-Olbion, the ‘Faerie Land’ exhibition is the product of a year-long collaboration between University of Exeter researchers, the acclaimed arts organisation Flash of Splendour, professional artists, and a number of South-West schools, including the WESC Foundation in Exeter. Flash of Splendour, an educational organisation that empowers disabled, marginalised and disadvantaged children and young people through the creative arts, coordinated a wide range of workshops and activities devoted to Poly-Olbion through the 2014-15 school year.

The exhibition brings into the same space seventeenth-century images, artwork and film generated through the project’s schools-based workshops, and original pieces by contemporary professional artists. The exhibits as a whole – ranging from a powerful series of self-portraits by children superimposed upon places of significance to them, to an imposing upside-down map of England and Wales by the acclaimed cartographic artist Stephen Walter – reflect powerfully upon the relation between place and identity and the contested nature of the nation through history.

Professor Andrew McRae, Professor of Renaissance Studies at the University of Exeter said: “The exhibition is a bold and visually striking attempt to rethink the ‘vision’ of an early seventeenth-century description of the British nation.

“The exhibition is part of a larger project that is an imaginative and innovative effort to combine complex literary and artistic works – and work that is the subject of academic research at Exeter – with a broader educational agenda, specifically with children who have special educational needs.”

The exhibition is jointly funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

For more information please visit the project's website.

Date: 6 October 2015

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