Probably the most exciting bit of the exhibition was when I saw the ORIGINAL THOMAS CHATTERTON MANUSCRIPTS. I could not believe it. The original Thomas Chatterton manuscripts! I stopped and looked at them closely, not believing they were real. The coolest thing about having them in front of me was that I’d seen a presenter on a documentary examining them, so it was kind of like seeing someone from TV… in real life. Even though I was seeing the manuscripts, not the presenter. Now I better explain a bit about Thomas Chatterton instead of just leaving you there wondering what I’m on about. Thomas Chatterton was a teenager in the 1700s who forged medieval manuscripts (Sound familiar?) under the name of Thomas Rowley, an imaginary monk he created. Chatterton committed suicide at 17 and became famous after his death (typical :(). I’d really like to read the Rowley poems someday. I still haven’t read The Castle Of Otranto though! I have a really long list of books to read… Anyway, now you can see why I was so excited to see the Rowley/Chatterton documents.
A few days before I went to Terror and Wonder: The Art of Gothic, my mother took me to the Royal Academy to see Black and White Gothic. The exhibition was tiny. It was literally one small room with even smaller drawings. They were pretty good drawings, actually. Well, obviously they were good otherwise they wouldn’t have been in the Royal Academy; They were a collection of ink illustrations by Charles Stewart, drawn for – surprise, surprise – a gothic novel, called “Uncle Silas.” My problem with them was that there were so few of them that they weren’t worth displaying.
That’s why it was such a relief to see the exhibits at the British Library. The space felt huge, and there were so many things to look at. The show was made up of books; movie clips; documents; pictures; authors’ and artists’ notes; photos; clothing; posters and a vampire slaying kit. It finished off with photos taken at the biannual Whitby Goth festival.
Oh my god, you should have seen the vampire slaying kit! It was made up of small wooden stakes – presumably to drive into a vampire’s heart -, a crucifix, a gun, some potions, and other such things that our vampire friends would find rather disagreeable. It was incredible.
I was also delighted to find one of my favourite bands mentioned, along with a few others that I listen to. Oh, and there was a book by my favourite author, Patrick Ness. If you have time, check out his work.
I totally LOVED the exhibition! In fact, I returned to it the day before it closed to see it for the last time. Unfortunately everything in the exhibition shop was super expensive: Imagine the usual high museum merchandise prices, then multiply them by ten to account for the fact that these were gothic items. Black lipstick, antique doorknobs, dark classics. Did they really need to be that expensive? I didn’t buy anything.