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Surreal views of Brontes at Haworth
The Bronte Parsonage in Haworth sees thousands of visitors each year, but its latest visitor may be the strangest one yet – a stuffed giraffe named Arthur!
The piece of taxidermy is part of an exhibition by surrealist photographer Charlotte Cory entitled ‘Capturing the Brontes’ – an installation in the sisters’ home that presents an alternate Victorian history.
He is joined by animal-headed Victorian gentry, images of whom are spread out through the Parsonage museum for the exhibition, which started on Saturday.
The artist and Bronte fan joined the Bronte Society aged ten, and is famous for ‘Visitoriana’ – an alternative Victorian world where animals dominate. Her images are of period picture – from an era when photography was becoming available to more people – with the heads of animals.
Inspired by the sisters and their books, several of her characters are alternate versions of people from their lives, such as the cockatoo-headed biographer Mrs Gaskell.
The giraffe, possibly the most striking piece of the installation, represents Charlotte Bronte’s publisher, George Smith, who put his neck out by releasing the untested author’s work, and is wearing a collar similar to Emily Bronte’s pet dog Keeper.
The artist said: “I’ve found and collected these Victorian photographs.
“It is quite sad someone has been photographed in their Sunday dress and then years later no-one wants it. These people have been shot for a photograph and the animals have been shot to be stuffed. It is bringing these ideas together and having fun with it.”
Parsonage arts officer, Louisa Briggs, said: “It is intended to challenge people and have them question their relationship with the parsonage and the Brontes.
“The exhibits will make people who are familiar with the house look at things in a different way.”
Parsonage collections manager, Ann Dinsdale, said: “It is important to show the Bronte family continues to influence works of art.”
A similar exhibition is being held in the Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate.
Capturing the Brontes runs until December 31, and there will be a number of Christmas-themed events to tie in with it in early December.