Hollow Earth: Art, Caves and the Subterranean Imaginary

Hollow Earth: Art, Caves and the Subterranean Imaginary
Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery

When: 23 September 2023 to 07 January 2024
Where: Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery - Gallery 20 & 21
Time: 10:00 - 17:00
Cost: Free
Suitable for: Any age

“A glorious meditation on geology, early art and shamanic visions”, ★★★★ Hettie Judah, The Guardian

“A powerful and thought-provoking new exhibition”, Helen Gordon, Apollo

Dark, dangerous and unstable, caves are places of visions and experiences both sacred and profane. Hollow Earth is a major thematic art exhibition bringing together a wide range of responses to the image and idea of the cave. It includes painting, photography, sculpture, and video, as well as objects from RAMM’s collection, from ancient history through to modern and contemporary art.

For thousands of years these portals to the deep past have captivated artists, and as society has evolved artistic responses have also shifted. Following 19th-century discoveries of rock paintings, caves have been imagined as spaces of revelation, providing clues to the origin of our collective impulse to produce and display images. After World War II artists came to associate the cave with the primordial creative space and a refuge from the atomic era. Today, in an age of ecological breakdown, caves are portals to both the deep past and troubled futures, places where species and time intermingle.

Devon holds a unique place in history as the birthplace of cave-hunting, declared by William Pengelly, the Victorian pioneer of systemic cave research in England. The county contains some of the UK’s most important prehistoric cave deposits. Objects from RAMM’s collection will be on display including a selection of extinct animal bones and antiquities found in caves from around the world. Spanning works by more than 30 artists, the exhibition descends into the depths to consider questions of thresholds, darkness and prehistory.

The exhibition is divided into five sections and echoes the journey into a cave, starting at the threshold and ending in the depths. Hollow Earth features major works by the Victorian painter Sir Joseph Wright of Derby, famous Surrealist René Magritte, abstract artist Henry Moore, contemporary filmmaker Michael Ho, and Guyanese expressionist painter Aubrey Williams, as well as new commissions including large-scale watercolour paintings from Chioma Ebinama and a film installation by Lydia Ourahmane.

Hamed Abdalla, Lee Bontecou, Brassaï, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Steven Claydon, Matt Copson, Juan Downey, Chioma Ebinama, Mary Beth Edelson, Barry Flanagan, Ilana Halperin, Frank Heath, Ed Herring, Michael Ho, Peter Hujar, Athanasius Kircher, René Magritte, Santu Mofokeng, Henry Moore, Nadar, Lydia Ourahmane, Gordon Parks, Flora Parrott, Robert Smithson, Michelle Stuart, N.H. Stubbing, Caragh Thuring, Aubrey Williams, Joseph Wright of Derby.

‌Please note: this exhibition contains a laser artwork with flickering light, and may be unsuitable for those with epilepsy or light sensitivity.

Hollow Earth: Art, Caves and the Subterranean Imaginary is a Hayward Gallery Touring exhibition, developed in partnership with Nottingham Contemporary and in collaboration with Glucksman, Cork and RAMM.

This exhibition was made possible as a result of the Government Indemnity Scheme. RAMM would like to thank HM Government for providing Government Indemnity, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and Arts Council England for arranging the indemnity.

Image: Unknown photographer, Elisabeth Pauli at work in Northern Spain, 1936 © Frobenius-Institut, Frankfurt am Main

Exhibitions & Projects

  • John Akomfrah: Arcadia

    John Akomfrah: Arcadia

    The Box, Plymouth

    30 November 2023 to 02 June 2024

    View details

  • ARTIST ROOMS Bill Viola

    ARTIST ROOMS Bill Viola

    Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery

    27 January 2024 to 02 June 2024

    View details

  • Beyond the Page: South Asian Miniature Painting and Britain, 1600 to Now

    Beyond the Page: South Asian Miniature Painting and Britain, 1600 to Now

    The Box, Plymouth

    30 November 2023 to 02 June 2024

    View details

  • Yinka Shonibare CBE RA: End of Empire

    Yinka Shonibare CBE RA: End of Empire

    The Box, Plymouth

    12 October 2023 to 16 June 2024

    View details

  • Devonian Monsters

    Devonian Monsters

    The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon

    27 April 2024 to 06 July 2024

    View details

  • Katy Lee  Going on Taw

    Katy Lee Going on Taw

    The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon

    18 May 2024 to 06 July 2024

    View details

  • What Do You Collect Picturing a collection

    What Do You Collect Picturing a collection

    Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery

    30 January 2024 to 14 July 2024

    View details

  • D Day 80 Exhibition

    D Day 80 Exhibition

    Torquay Museum

    19 March 2024 to 21 September 2024

    View details

  • Are we nearly there yet A History of Transport

    Are we nearly there yet A History of Transport

    Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery

    15 June 2024 to 29 September 2024

    View details

  • The Time is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure

    The Time is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure

    The Box, Plymouth

    29 June 2024 to 29 September 2024

    View details

  • The Michelangelo Trail: A Delve Into LGBTQ Histories

    The Michelangelo Trail: A Delve Into LGBTQ Histories

    Torquay Museum

    01 January 2024 to 31 December 2024

    View details

  • Exciting new Museum displays about kite ballooning in 1917, and the Church Rocks Wreck

    Exciting new Museum displays about kite ballooning in 1917, and the Church Rocks Wreck

    Teign Heritage Centre Home to Teignmouth and Shaldon Museum

    04 July 2023 to 31 December 2024

    View details

  • Artisans of the Torbay Marble Industry

    Artisans of the Torbay Marble Industry

    Torquay Museum

    01 July 2024 to 31 December 2024

    View details

  • Planet Ocean

    Planet Ocean

    The Box, Plymouth

    16 March 2024 to 23 February 2025

    View details