#MeToo pioneer to star in new VR exhibition at historic house

HISTORY meets cutting edge virtual reality technology at England’s greatest Elizabethan house this summer, bringing to life the story of one of Europe’s most celebrated woman painters of the 17th century.

Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1653) is regarded as someone who not only broke, but shattered, the ‘glass ceiling’ of the male-dominated art world 400 years ago.

Her little-known story is one of rape survival and revenge, resulting in paintings of women of courage and strength, and in many ways she became a forerunner of today’s #MeToo movement.

Now, her life is traced in a new VR experience, (Hi)Story of a Painting: The Light in the Shadow, which is set to be the star attraction at Lincolnshire’s Burghley House this summer.

Narrated by singer and actress Cerys Matthews, the immersive 14-minute storytelling experience, delivered through individual headsets,  will transport visitors back to 17th century Florence.

Running from July 23 to August 31, excluding Fridays, it will showcase Artemisia’s art and fascinating story, her resistance to patriarchy and determination in the face of adversity.

“Nothing will ever replace viewing an artwork in person,” say Gaëlle Mourre and Quentin Darras, creators of the experience. “But the pandemic has brought to light a longstanding truth.

“Not all of us get to travel in the best of times so how do we get to experience the world’s wonders, locally? Virtual Reality was our answer: it’s the next best thing, if we may say so ourselves!

“We’ve gathered an unprecedented collection of Artemisia’s work into a single experience, where each viewer has the opportunity to admire her work in their own immersive world.”

One special piece in the experience is Burghley House’s very own Artemisia Gentileschi piece ‘Susannah and the Elders’, painted in 1622 but rarely, if ever, on display at Burghley because it is normally on loan to galleries and at major exhibitions worldwide.

The painting will make a special appearance for a limited time at the House this summer, with visitors able to see the original painting in the Heaven Room for the duration of the of the VR exhibition.

Admission to the VR experience costs £10 per person. A general £20 House admissions ticket (it’s £9 for kids) is not required unless visitors wish to view the original Susanna and the Elders painting too. For full details, or to book, see www.burghley.co.uk

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