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N&N Festival, The Edge of Things review: artists Neville and Joan Gabie unlock the secrets of six special books

PUBLISHED: 13:22 17 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:22 17 May 2019

The Edge of Things is a series of multimedia installations and live projects at Blickling Estate as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival. Photo: Fisheye Images

The Edge of Things is a series of multimedia installations and live projects at Blickling Estate as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival. Photo: Fisheye Images

Fisheye Images

The Edge of Things in Blickling Hall’s library sends people on adventures with a series of multimedia installations and live projects.

Even just visiting a new exhibition inspired by its works set me off on quite a journey. Arriving at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival event before the gates had opened, I went into orbit with a handful of others. Fortunately, some doughty volunteers rescued us.

Far greater expeditions than ours had been undertaken by artists Neville and Joan Gabie as they unlocked the secrets of six special books. They had visited Bristol, America and had even explored the surface of the moon with help from the North Norfolk Astronomy Society.

Many of the volumes in the library, which is now struggling with damp and death watch beetle, were current during the age of enlightenment. That was a time when science and the arts collaborated closely to uncover the secrets of the world. The feeling of that era, with its revolutionary advances, tingled in the air.

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In the Orangery, three films explored the nature of matter. From a grain of sand, to the largest boulder on the moon, no stone was left unturned. Prof. Daniela Schmidt from Bristol University had some illuminating things to say about the way tiny plankton fossils can help us to map the future of the planet.

Back at the house, the books on display revealed the starting points for the artists' work. And there were more treats in store.

The Eliot Bible was translated into Wampanoag, and handed out to the population of New England in the 1600's. During a visit to the Wampanoag community of today, the artists filmed locals as they re-claimed their dialect. The words reconnected them with an old, and valuable perception of their landscape.

And from changed perception, to Chinese whispers of the zoological kind. Konrad Gesner, a Swiss naturalist, set out to catalogue all known species in 1551. As there wasn't always much to go on, his books are as much invention as fact. His De Avium Natura, a bird book, has prompted a growing tapestry for the library stitched by many local hands.


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