Winchester – Groundbreaking Art Show

06th January 2022

Winchester Cathedral is to host a groundbreaking art exhibition designed and produced by the National Gallery which allows visitors to step inside a painting for the first time.

National Gallery comes to Winchester Cathedral with groundbreaking new art show.

Sensing the Unseen: Step into Gossaert’s ‘Adoration’, opens on January 22 and has been designed and produced by the National Gallery, London.

At the heart of the exhibition is a 3-D facsimile of Jan Gossaert’s (active 1508; died 1532) ‘Adoration of the Kings’ – an oil painting from 1501-15 that depicts the Christian Nativity scene in which shepherds, animals, angels and the three Kings, have come to worship the infant Christ.

The National Gallery has brought the painting to life by creating an immersive digital experience using innovative technology, so that visitors will discover the intricate detail, technical mastery, vivid colours and rich meaning of this 16th-century masterpiece.

Alison Evans, Chief Operating Officer at Winchester Cathedral said,

“We are delighted that Winchester Cathedral will be the first venue to host this hugely-engaging exhibition from the National Gallery. We want as many people as possible to come and experience this new way of looking at art where, with the help of digital technology, visitors feel they are transported into Jan Gossaert’s painting.”

Located in the North Transept of the Cathedral, the exhibition space will house the large facsimile painting, spot lit against a black backcloth flanked by three yurt-like pods. Inside the pods, visitors will encounter a screen featuring a digital image of the painting, which has been ‘sonified’ using a soundscape comprising ambient sound, spoken word and music created by sound artist, Nick Ryan. Interactive digital imagery will transport visitors into the world of the painting, to discover and navigate previously unseen elements in forensic detail: the weave of the fabric, Gossaert’s fingerprint in the green glaze where he blotted it, thistles and dead nettles, hairs sprouting from a wart on a cheek, a tiny pearl, and a hidden angel.

The National Gallery commissioned Theresa Lola, who until recently was Young Poet Laureate for London, to write a poem that explores one of the depicted characters, King Balthasar’s experience of this transformative moment in time. As visitors leave the pods and return to view the painting with “new eyes and perspectives”, the voice of King Balthasar narrates his journey through a world on the brink of change.

Social distancing is an integral part of the exhibition, with the pods accommodating a maximum of two visitors from the same booking at one time. Visitors will not be asked to share a pod 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 adhere to government COVID-19 guidance so that the exhibition can be enjoyed safely. In addition, headphones used for the digital element of the exhibition will be carefully sanitised after each use by steward staff.

Find out more here, Sensing the Unseen at Winchester Cathedral, January to April 2022.

Director of the National Gallery, Dr Gabriele Finaldi, said,

“Sensing the Unseen offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of this sensational masterpiece, in the deep and rich story it tells and in the artistry that made it.

“This show was very popular with visitors to Trafalgar Square, so we are delighted it is now going on the road to Winchester Cathedral as our first ever touring digital exhibition, so many more people are able to enjoy it.”

The exhibition opens on 22nd January until 3rd April 2022. Due to the limited number of people that can be accommodated in the pods, timed tickets at 15-minute intervals during normal opening hours will be available to pre-book on the Winchester Cathedral website soon.

Entry to the exhibition is included as part of the general admission ticket, but visitors will need to pre-book via the website as availability on the day cannot be guaranteed.