Saturday, April 16, 2011

Catherine Bertola: "To be forever known" Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth, UK

To be forever known
Catherine Bertola
16 April - 8 July 2011
Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth

To be forever known is a sound installation by artist Catherine Bertola, created in response to the Brontë Parsonage Museum and its collection as part of the museum’s contemporary arts programme. To be forever known is accompanied by a series of photographs, Residual hauntings.

Catherine Bertola creates installations, objects and drawings that respond to particular sites, collections and historic contexts. Her interest in the Brontë Parsonage Museum centres on the contradictions between past and present that lie at the heart of the museum. The house can be seen as a 'period set', a reconstruction of the past onto which we project our own thoughts and feelings. To be forever known attempts to breathe life back into the space and reinstate a sense of the creativity that once filled the air of the house.

Using scientific methods of revealing the resonant harmonies and tones of architectural spaces, Catherine Bertola has sought to capture the sounds of the Parsonage. The artist recorded herself reading aloud extracts of the sisters' letters. These recordings were then played and re-recorded over and over again into the space, until the words become unintelligible whispers and the resonances of the room are revealed; the sisters' thoughts and feelings once again haunting and jarring against the silence.

Residual hauntings is a series of photographs of the artist ‘performing’ domestic rituals and actions described in written records. These simple ghostly vignettes reanimate the spaces of the Parsonage as they once were.

Catherine Bertola was born in Rugby in 1976 and studied Fine Art at Newcastle University. She has created site specific installations for a variety of sites and contexts, for organisations such as Whitworth Art Gallery (Manchester), V&A Museum (London), Millennium Gallery (Sheffield) and the National Trust. Catherine Bertola has work in several public and private collections and is represented by Workplace Gallery, Gateshead and M R Fricke, Berlin.

To hear a brand new podcast that includes an interview with artist Catherine Bertola talking about her artwork and inspirations, download the 'Art Yorkshire' iPhone App from the Apple App Store or visit


As part of To be forever known, Catherine Bertola will curate three 'Conversaziones', a term used by Victorians to describe small social gatherings held in their homes (where people would meet over tea to debate topics of the day). Catherine and a series of invited speakers will discuss themes relating to the exhibition, together with a small audience. The evenings will take place at the Brontë Parsonage Museum after hours, and refreshments will be provided.

Thursday 12 May, 7pm
Radical Women
Lucasta Miller and Jane Robinson discuss the role of radical women, from the original Bluestockings to the 20th Century suffragettes, who like the Brontës, transcended perceived ideas of femininity.
Jane Robinson is author of Bluestockings: The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education.
Lucasta Miller is a writer and critic, and author of The Brontë Myth.

Thursday 16 June, 7pm
Everyday Lives
Ann Dinsdale and Suzanne Fagence Cooper take us through the domestic rituals of an early 19th household, to discover how the Brontë sisters would have occupied their time outside of writing.
Ann Dinsdale is Collections Manager at the Brontë Parsonage Museum.
Suzanne Fagence Cooper is V&A Research Fellow at Buckinghamshire New University, has written several books on Victorian art and culture, and has been a consultant for BBC programmes including What the Victorians Did for Us, and Simon Schama's History of Britain.

Thursday 7 July, 7pm
Between the Lines
Historian and biographer Kathryn Hughes explores how artefacts and historical evidence can help us to access the people and places of the past.
Kathryn Hughes is Professor of Lifewriting at UEA. Her biographies include George Eliot: the Last Victorian and The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton. She is a journalist and critic, regularly writing for The Guardian and appearing on BBC Radio 4.

Catherine Bertola
Residual hauntings (detail) 2011
Triptych of Photographic Prints
15.2 x 20.3 cm (Framed)
Courtesy of the artist and Workplace Gallery