Expanded Interiors Re-Staged

3 July – 10 August 2021

Expanded Interiors installed at Pompei © Amedeo Benestante

Three years after it was first displayed among the ancient ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii, Catrin Hubers Expanded Interiors is being reimagined in a remarkable new multimedia exhibition at Newcastle Universitys Hatton Gallery.    

Seen by more than 600k visitors in 2018/19, the show’s original contemporary art installations, focused on two Roman houses: the House of the Beautiful Courtyard at Herculaneum and the House of the Cryptoporticus in Pompeii. These houses literally formed the backdrops for a fresh dialogue between contemporary art, Roman wall painting and archaeological remains.  

This summer, Huber, a visual artist and Professor in Fine Art at Newcastle University, will re-stage her striking geometric artworks. She will also introduce new pieces in physical and digital formats, setting the installations in a fresh conversation with the architecture of the Hatton Gallery, and incorporating an incredible real-time 3D environment that will enable visitors to virtually ‘walk around’ ancient houses in Herculaneum and Pompeii. The exhibition will also include a brand-new commission by fellow Newcastle-based artist, Rosie Morris.  

The large-scale installations incorporate replica 3D-printed Roman artefacts that are integrated and re-assembled within the contemporary setting. Artefacts recreated include statues of Roman women, face cups and oil lamps. As with Roman wall paintings, the exhibition conjures up a balance between real and imagined space, inside and outside space, and the past and present, creating a dramatic succession of rooms that contrast and link with each other.  

For the original project, Huber assembled a team of archaeology, digital technology and contemporary art experts from Newcastle University. This was in order to explore the relevance of Roman wall painting and artefacts for today’s fine art practice, and also to test how artists can respond to the histories and complex natures of these archaeological sites within a contemporary context. The result was an arresting and unique experience. Both Herculaneum and Pompeii are of course incredibly popular with tourists”, says Huber. “The hope was that our project was a stimulating and thought-provoking experience for visitors, helping them to look at these remarkable World Heritage sites from a new perspective.”

Art and history lovers in the North East will now be able to explore these themes in a city and region that boasts a wealth of Roman sites, from Hadrian’s Wall and Roman forts such as Vindolanda, Arbeia South Shields Roman Fort and Segedunum Roman Fort, to aspects of Newcastle itself.  

Reconnecting Newcastle and ancient Rome via a time just before Vesuvius destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79AD, Expanded Interiors includes an interactive 3D digital artwork that virtually recreates Huber’s three installations, originally presented within the Roman houses in Herculaneum and Pompeii. The 3D digital artwork features several audio pieces, one of which is a fictional dialogue between a female Roman wall painter and Huber.

Rosie Morris’ atmospheric new commission for Expanded Interiors Re-Staged brings a theatricality to the experience of crossing spatial thresholds. She has playfully reimagined a small, dimly lit space, with domestic-scale illusions of incisions and openings. Borrowing from the principles of Roman Wall painting, Morris’ installation negotiates an exchange between the viewer, the artist, and real and imagined space, as well as multiple visual languages including colour, painting, drawing, photography, light, filmic projection and dioramas.

Catrin Huber says: “The re-staging of the installations from Herculaneum and Pompeii in the context of the Hatton Gallery’s distinctive architecture, will be complimented by new work in a variety of media. Collectively they’ll play with notions of open and closed walls, perspective, and the folding of space. These different aspects will guide visitors through the exhibition in different ways. The use of colour, light, and shadows is also crucial to the overall experience, creating and disrupting immersive environments and setting up dramatic contrasts.”

More at www.expandedinteriors.co.uk 

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Notes to editors

The original Expanded Interiors exhibition at Herculaneum focused on Roman objects and their (at times) artistically altered replicas. It concentrated on female figures and faces, and brought reproductions of exquisite, rarely seen artefacts held in store-rooms at Herculaneum back to the public area of the archaeological site. The corresponding exhibition at Pompeii responded to the magnificent, restored wall paintings at the House of the Cryptoporticus, where two installations of Huber’s wall paintings incorporated replicas of Roman objects.

Once thriving and sophisticated Roman cities, Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried under tons of ash and pumice when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. They have been meticulously preserved and were given UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1997. Expanded Interiors was the result of a dynamic partnership between Newcastle University and Parco Archeologico di Pompei, Parco Archeologico di Ercolano, and The Herculaneum Conservation Project.

Expanded Interiors Re-Staged sets-up further partnerships with the Hatton Gallery and digital-media company Animmersion. It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and supported by Newcastle University.

Hatton Gallery is managed by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums on behalf of Newcastle University.

Catrin Huber is an artist whose works are often in dialogue with specific places, exploring their contexts and histories, and their architectural features and idiosyncrasies. While working across a range of media, she is interested in how paintings can define or subvert places, how they set-up relations between actual and fictional spaces, while conjuring unexpected relations between materiality and representation.

Rosie Morris is an artist living and working in Newcastle. Her installations look to reconnect the viewer with the excitement and wonder of being within an architectural space. Morris’ constructions wrap around the space itself, using perspectival painting, film, sound, and written text to prompt the viewer to move and reassemble their perceptions, dislodging familiar encounters with reality.

Media contact

For press information/images for the Expanded Interiors exhibition please contact Tracy at Brera PR.  
For press information on other exhibitions or Hatton Gallery in general, please contact Samantha Brimer, Communications Officer at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.