Winchester Cathedral to host National Gallery exhibition

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Opening on January 22, the exhibition Feel the invisible: enter Gossaert’s “Adoration” was designed and produced by the National Gallery in London.

At the heart of the exhibition, which departs for the first time from the National Gallery, is a 3D facsimile of the work of Jan Gossaert “The Adoration of the Kings” – a magnificent oil painting from 1501-15 which depicts the familiar Christian nativity scene in which shepherds, animals, angels and the three kings have come to adore the Christ child.

The National Gallery brought the painting to life by creating an immersive digital experience using innovative technology.

Alison Evans, Chief Operating Officer of Winchester Cathedral, said: “We are delighted that Winchester Cathedral is the first venue to host this hugely engaging exhibition from the National Gallery.

“We want as many people as possible to come and discover this new way of seeing art where, thanks to digital technology, visitors feel transported to Jan Gossaert’s paintings.

Located in the north transept of the cathedral, the exhibition space will house the large facsimile of the painting, spot-lit against a black background flanked by three yurt-shaped modules.

Inside the modules, visitors will encounter a screen displaying a digital image of the painting, which has been ‘sonified’ using a soundscape comprising ambient sounds, lyrics and music created by the sound artist Nick Ryan.

Interactive digital imagery will transport visitors into the world of painting, to discover and navigate previously unseen elements in forensic detail: the weaving of the fabric, Gossaert’s fingerprint in the green glaze where he l erased, dead thistles and nettles, hair growing from a wart on one cheek, a little pearl and a hidden angel.

The National Gallery has commissioned Theresa Lola, who was until recently Young Poet Laureate for London, to write a poem that explores one of the characters depicted, King Balthasar’s experience of this transformative moment in time.

As visitors leave the modules and return to view the painting with “new eyes and new perspectives,” the voice of King Balthasar recounts his journey through a world on the brink of change.

Social distancing is an integral part of the exhibition, with modules accommodating a maximum of two visitors from the same booking at a time. Visitors will not be asked to share a capsule with other members of the general public.

Throughout the exhibition, measures such as viewing stations, queuing systems and sanitation points will be put in place to meet government Covid guidelines so that the exhibition can be enjoyed safely. In addition, the headphones used for the digital element of the exhibition will be thoroughly disinfected after each use by the steward staff.

National Gallery director Dr Gabriele Finaldi said:Feel the invisible offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of this sensational masterpiece, the deep and rich story it tells and the artistry that created it.

“This show has been hugely popular with visitors to Trafalgar Square, so we are delighted that it is now making its way to Winchester Cathedral as the first traveling digital exhibition, so that many more people can enjoy it. ”

The exhibition will be at Winchester Cathedral for ten weeks, opening January 22 and running until April 3.

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