Call and Responses: The Odyssey of the Moor – Kensington Palace

Call and Responses: The Odyssey of the Moor by Graeme Mortimer Evelyn celebrates ethnic dimensions to royal histories

Historic Royal Palaces is pleased to announce an exciting new art installation, entitled Call and Responses: The Odyssey of the Moor, will go on display in the Queen’s State Apartments at Kensington Palace. The installation is the work of artist Graeme Mortimer Evelyn, in collaboration with Historic Royal Palaces, Royal Collection Trust and supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’s Grants for the arts programme.

GMEThe work is a contemporary response to John van Nost’s Bust of the Moor – an astonishingly beautiful and lavishly expensive sculpture commissioned by King William III in 1688/1689. The bust depicts a black servant dressed in ‘Oriental’ fashion, but with an unmistakable slave collar. Made from coloured marbles and semi-precious stones, this item has long resided in Kensington Palace.

Through Call and Reponses, Evelyn re-imagines lost narratives that may have led to the commissioning of this exquisite and mysterious art work. He places the bust within a gilded cage, but with its doors flung open to capture the view over Kensington Gardens. He creates for the Moor a dream of self-determination and freedom. Call and Responses – The Odyssey of the Moor is an enquiry into structures of physical space, social strata and philosophical ideas on human nature and survival.  This engaging work opens up untold stories and access to a national historic site for diverse audiences. Its installation period is designed to include Black History Month in October.

In a recent series of commissions, Evelyn has developed a reputation for creating work in places of worship and public buildings that subvert these settings. Evelyn is inspired by the researching and re-creation of alternative histories and mythologies. Last year he produced an exhibition for Jamaica’s 50th anniversary during the London2012 Olympics. The display explored notions of identity and belonging that have helped to inform the work produced this year for Kensington Palace.

Graeme Mortimer Evelyn, artist, commented: “This exciting commission is a wish fulfilled from when I started down the path of creating public art within site-specific historical contexts. I feel proud to be representing not only a generation of British artists, but also artists of African Diaspora heritage”.

Joanna Marschner, Senior Curator, Kensington Palace said: “Kensington Palace welcomes this opportunity to work with a thoughtful young artist. Youthful eyes draw new truths from the amazing historic treasures in our charge”.

From 25 September 2013 until 6 January 2014, Kensington Palace

photography: copyright © 2013 HRP-Robin Forster

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