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A ‘photographic art thief’ comes to Exeter museum this winter

By December 10, 2020March 25th, 2021Member News & Updates, Why Exeter blog

Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) will play host to the Mona Lisa, The Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Scream, plus Van Goghs, Magrittes, and many more masterpieces this December, but with a twist – the famous works have been recreated as pastiche photographs by artist Anna Grayson, for her solo show The Photographic Art Thief.

‘I don’t really actually steal them,’ says Anna, ‘but, I am a great lover of museums and art galleries and dream of having my very own collection of famous works of art. So, I have re-made and updated my favourite masterpieces with photography.’

Anna Grayson is a geologist by training and was a BBC presenter and science writer by profession; she re-trained as an artist at the age of 60, and her work was featured by Grayson Perry in Channel 4’s Grayson's Art Club earlier this year. As well as Leonardo and Vermeer, The Photographic Art Thief includes Anna’s interpretations of Van Eyck, Manet, Millais, and the latest acquisition at the National Gallery by Artemesia Gentileschi, a self-portrait of the celebrated artist. Much of Anna’s work is humorous, but there is a serious side too with clear themes of gender, feminism and social commentary.

Anna says: ‘It is an opportunity for everyone to dip into a bit of art history, and for culture vultures to ask a few more questions about the famous art they love. Above all it is a celebration of the whole concept of public art galleries and museums, and what we take with us from these institutions.’

‘I am so delighted that my very first solo show in a public museum will be at RAMM. I have worked a lot in museums during my career as a scientist and broadcaster, and this in my opinion is one of the very best in the country. There is just so much there, so much to inspire and uplift.’

Anna has shot some new work especially for this show, some reflecting lockdown, but one celebrating a part of the Museum’s collection close to her heart; the geological gallery. ‘I love the Dutch style of still life, with the hidden message of the vanitas or memento mori reminding us of the fate that awaits us all. You can’t get that message more than with fossils, and many of them would have been good to eat when alive, so I made an arrangement of specimens to look like food, and lit the scene like a Dutch still life.’

Anna Grayson: The Photographic Art Thief comes to the Café at RAMM from Tuesday 15 December 2020 to Sunday 28 February 2021, with selected works also available to purchase.