Unearthing is the second in a trilogy of exhibitions that has been specially commissioned by Hampshire Cultural Trust for Gosport Museum and Art Gallery, which opened to the public in November last year.
Unearthing is a new artwork installation by Surrey-based Mary Branson, best known for her large-scale conceptual light works and in particular for her sculpture New Dawn which is located at the entrance to St Stephen’s Hall in the Houses of Parliament. The exhibition is a multimedia, immersive installation that combines archaeological finds with sound and light projections and which explores the temporary nature of human existence through the archaeological traces left by ancient man. At the core of the exhibition are hundreds of locally discovered archaeological artefacts in a dramatic, sculptural display that tells the story of man’s journey through time to the present day – the Age of Man.
Branson’s inspiration for the work came from her research into archaeological finds from both the Gosport area and the wider county which are held in Hampshire Cultural Trust’s collections, including pieces of pottery, flint and animal bones. The artwork is a response to the ‘frozen’ period of the Covid lockdowns and emphasises the continuity of human history and the deep-rooted connections that we share with those who came before us.
Branson commented: ‘Emerging from the pandemic, I wanted to explore this sense of a frozen period by using ancient archaeological artefacts to create an artwork that underscores the continuity of human history and the deep-rooted connections that we share with those who came before us.
The exhibition features newly created, smoke-fired ceramic vessels by the artist, and a large frieze, entitled Age of Man, which was created in collaboration with the Gosport community. Both elements are designed to echo our distant past and give glimpses into our future. Visitors can encounter the exhibition as an immersive experience, with layers of sound and colour-changing light projections that recreate sunlight from dawn to dusk, evoking the circular ebb and flow of our existence.
Branson’s Unearthing is the second in a three-part series of commissions for Gosport Museum and Gallery, supported by Arts & Heritage and Arts Council England. Mary follows Heinrich and Palmer’s Alien Native and precedes film maker Tom Dale who will be displaying his new works in the gallery in 2024. Unearthing is now open and runs until 6 January 2024. Admission is free.