The Exhibition

Once Upon a Time…brings together an unusual range of work, from nineteenth-century illustrations to contemporary video art, to explore artists’ enduring need to tell stories.

The first section, Childhood Stories, explores the complex relationship between illustration and text. Some of the works on display illustrate existing stories, while others present new ones. In both cases, these images can transform our understanding of children’s stories, such as fairy tales and nursery rhymes, by either masking or accentuating their darker features.

The second section, Personal Mythologies, considers artists who manipulate personal stories, blurring the line between autobiography, confession and fantasy. Even when interpreting other people’s words, the artists can reveal much about themselves. The stories in this section push accepted boundaries of what can be shared openly.

In contrast, the audio work Trance by Fiona Banner, playing in this room, exposes the limitations of storytelling. Its fast pace and monotonous tone prevent the listener from grasping the meaning of the story or empathising with its characters.

This exhibition invites you to reconsider storytelling as a means of communication. Is telling a story always a form of fabrication?

Press release