Anthone de Knut
Jana van Wamberghe
Cornelis van Agast
Guido de Brune
Curated by Neil McNally
Thursday 5th July
Thursday 12th July
Curators talk: 6pm
Friday 6th – Sunday 15thJuly
Opening hours: Thursday – Sunday, 12 – 6pm daily
A number of years ago Neil McNally went on a poetry reading tour of Belgium. He ended up in the Flemish town of Ghent. At a loose end and with a few hours to spare he visited the Museum voor Schone Kunsten. Face to face with Hieronymous Bosch’s St Jerome at Prayer (c. 1500) he suffered a bout of something akin to Stendhal’s Syndrome and synesthesia and passed out. He heard colours, smelled sound, tasted touch.
Rescue came in the form of a Belgian synesthesia associate , who recognised the symptoms, and rushed to his side to offer sympathy and advice on this condition. McNally has been indebted ever since. In honouring this moment of identification, this exhibition will show the work of several self-taught Belgian synesthetes who are members of the association.
Synesthesia is thought to be a perceptual experience in which stimuli presented through one modality will spontaneously evoke sensations in an unrelated modality. The condition occurs from increased communication between sensory regions and it is involuntary, automatic, and stable over time. It can occur in response to drugs, sensory deprivation, Dutch oil paintings, or brain damage.
Synesthetes are thought to be the people of the future. For most people, the name Tabitha does not taste like pickled walnuts dipped in Dijon mustard; a symphony by Mahler is not cerise and salmon pink. This neurological condition, although little understood, is surprisingly common among artists, writers, left handed people and Belgians.
Their work will be curated in the spirit of the writings of Pessoa, Baudelaire, Poe, Rimbaud, Nabokov and Huysmans, and others who have sought to explore the syndrome.
Neil McNallys' The Belgian Synesthesia Association was selected for Blueprint 2012, a curating competition selected by Ruth Claxton (Artist and Associate Director, Eastside Projects, Birmingham), Gordon Dalton (Artist, Curator, Mermaid & Monster, Cardiff), Paul O'Neill (curator, artist, writer, Bristol).
Blueprint is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.