New exhibitions brings Sunset Song to life

A new student-curated exhibition exploring the local heritage of North East Scotland has opened at the University of Aberdeen's King's Museum.

‘The Land Endures: Bringing Sunset Song to Life’ is curated by students from the University’s MLitt Museum Studies and MLitt Art and Business programmes.

The exhibition is a unique story-telling experience which will bring to life Grassic Gibbon’s famous characters through objects from the University of Aberdeen’s museum collection.

Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s novel Sunset Song is ground-breaking in that it moved Scottish literature and depictions of crofter’s lives in the early twentieth century away from the romanticised 'kailyard’ perspective to a more realistic impression of rural life. It presents the stories of characters that are as tough and beautiful as the land that it is set in.

Anna Kargl, a MLitt Art and Business student who helped to curate The Land Endures, said: “The exhibition captures the most important stories through objects that vividly depict the events of the novel and what life was like in a small farming community. 

“It presents a variety of objects, ranging from traditional farming tools and Luckenbooth brooches given as love tokens to barbed wire and a gas mask from the First World War.  These objects were chosen to develop important story lines from the novel, and to connect the fictional Kinraddie with history. The exhibition also features musical compositions by local artist Paul Anderson, to transport visitors back to early twentieth century North East Scotland.”

The students have led the curating process of the exhibition, from deciding which objects to display to creating the layout and design of the cases. The students invite visitors to follow the development process of the exhibition through behind-the-scenes videos, and the exhibition includes a book shelf filled with the student’s own copies of the novel to share in their thoughts.

Members of the student exhibition team Marianna D’Onofrio, Anna Kargl, Nicolla Sanguinetti and Brianne Schreck took part in the University of Aberdeen May Festival last Saturday, May 28. During a one-hour panel talk, they shared some memories of reading the novel, what it was like to curate their first exhibition, and how they approached turning a literary work into an exhibition with historical objects. “It has been a lot of hard work but very rewarding to see all of our ideas coming together, and we look forward to the exhibition opening next week”, remarked MLitt Museum Studies student Nicolla Sanguinetti.

‘The Land Endures: Bringing Sunset Song to Life’ is on show until November 30, 2016 at King’s Museum, Old Aberdeen Town House, Aberdeen AB24 3EN. King’s Museum is open 11.30 am – 4. 30 pm, Tuesday to Saturday. Entry is free.

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