Alternative Facts: Interpreting Works from the School of Art Collection: 22 May to 29 September 2017 at the School of Art Gallery, Aberystwyth University

AltFactsPoster_web_mailThe phrase ‘alternative facts’ is a recent addition to our vocabulary.  It has come to prominence in a political climate in which views and actions are shaped more by emotions than by reliable intelligence.  Reflecting this shift, Oxford Dictionaries declared ‘post-truth’ to be Word of the Year 2016.  And yet, alternative facts are as old as language itself.

The works in this exhibition range from a sixteenth-century woodcut to twenty-first century ceramics.   They make statements about religion and war, consumer culture and the media, humanitarian crises and the economy.  They contain references to historical figures such as Princess Diana and Nelson Mandela as well as fictional characters such as Mickey Mouse and Moby-Dick.

IMG_6485Using a current catchphrase as its premise, Alternative Facts explores the varied and conflicting functions of material culture: as representations of reality, as social commentary and as propaganda.  Political caricatures by James Gillray and Honoré Daumier are exhibited alongside documentarian images by photojournalist Erich Lessing.  Autobiographical and self-reflexive sculptures by Claire Curneen and Verity Newman are confronted with the hoax of a sea monster made in Japan.  Collectively, these objects raise questions about faith and falsehood, truth-telling and myth-making, authenticity, authority, and freedom of expression.

Alternative Facts also invites a closer look at the role of curators as trusted interpreters and reliable storytellers.  Our readings are not intended to be the last word. The gallery is a forum for discussion.

Curators: Tom Banks, Natalie Downes, Amber Harrison-Smith, Néna Marie Hyland, Brit Jackson, Frida Limi, Dean Mather, Brad Rees, Sarah Selzer, Magda Sledzikowska; with support from Harry Heuser (text and concept) and Neil Holland (staging and design)

Works from the School of Art collection featured in the Alternative Facts exhibition (with links to our database where possible):


Another Way of Telling, Coedely Colliery (1986)

Leslie Price (Welsh, b. 1938)

Silver print on semi-matt paper

Parigi (1976)

Roberto Salbitani (Italian, b. 1945)

Silver print on Agfa gloss paper

Free at Last (1990)

Paul Scott (English, b. 1953)

Porcelain with transfer prints

Eisenhower and Petitpierre, Geneva Summit (1955)

Erich Lessing (Austrian, b. 1923)

Silver print on semi-gloss paper

‘Is It Thursday Today or Friday?’Ward 22, Leicester Royal Infirmary (1996)

Rigby Graham (English, 1931–2015)

Colour woodcut

‘À Sébastopol’ (published in Le Charivari, 7 December 1854)

Honoré Daumier (French, 1808–1879)


‘Quel fichu temps pour battre le rappel!’ (published in Le Charivari, 5 January 1855)

Honoré Daumier (French, 1808–1879)


‘Celebrrrrrre Jury de peinture’ (published in Le Charivari, 16 March 1840)

Honoré Daumier (French, 1808–1879)


Judgment Day (published in Postilla Catholica Evangeliorum de Sanctis totius Anni, 1530)

Hans Brosamer (German, c. 1500–c. 1554)


Jupiter and Calista (1782)
Thomas Burke (Irish, 1749–1815)
Engraving after Angelica Kauffman (Swiss, 1741–1807)

Bull in a China Shop (2003)

Verity Newman (English, b. 1954)

Paper clay with clear glaze

No 4, Spill Series (2005)

Claire Curneen (Irish, b. 1968)

Slipcast clay with gold-glazed clay

Refugees from Hungary, Andau, Austria (1956)

Erich Lessing (Austrian, b. 1923)

Silver print on semi-gloss paper

Recovering Counterfeit Pounds, Lake Toplitz, Austria (1959)

Erich Lessing (Austrian, b. 1923)

Silver print on semi-gloss paper

Praise the Mouse (1999)

John Keane (British, b. 1954)

Screen print

Here There; Beyond the Seas; Old Crawlers; Terra Australis

From the Adelaide series (2008)

Stephen Dixon (English, b. 1957)


Landmine (Princess Diana) (1997)

Conrad Atkinson (British, b. 1940)

Slip-cast porcelain with metal pin

Proud to Be Shits (2001)

Carole Windham (British, b. 1949)

Slip-cast earthenware

Dido in Despair (first published 6 Feb. 1801; 1847–1851) 

James Gillray (English, 1756–1815)

Hand-coloured etching and engraving

Flüchtlingslager in Deutschland (c. 1945)

Hans Saebens (German, 1895–1969)

Silver print on Leonar photographic paper

Bela Lugosi Journal II (1970)

Joe Tilson (English, b. 1928)

Intaglio print on paper

Fallen Angel (2008)

Hilary Paynter (British, b. 1943)

Wood engraving

Corso del Popolo, Padova (1973)

Roberto Salbitani (Italian, 1945)

Silver print on Agfa gloss paper

Merman (late 19th century)

Maker unknown

Wood, fish teeth and tail, clay, papier mâché, metal wire

Casket (19th century)

Unknown maker

Rock crystal and enamelled silver

Wierd Sisters (first published on 23 December 1791; 1847–51)

James Gillray (English, 1756–1815)

Hand-coloured aquatint and etching

Fasching, Süddeutschland (1930–39)

Erich Retzlaff (German, 1899–1993)

Silver print

Untitled (c. 1930–1945)

Hans Saebens (German, 1895–1969)

Silver Print on Leonar photographic paper

Untitled (c. 1930–45)

Hans Saebens (German, 1895–1969)

Silver print on Leonar photographic paper

Nach der Feldarbeit (1936)

[After working in the field]

Hans Saebens (German, 1895–1969)

Silver print on Leona photographic paper

Gregory Peck, Moby Dick (1954)

Erich Lessing (Austrian, b. 1923)

Colour print on Kodak Professional paper

Little and Spicy (2015)

Jesse Wine (English, b. 1983)

Glazed ceramic, edition of 7


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