The John Martin exhibition is now open at Tate Britain, and it’s been a busy few days. As part of the Great British Art Debate, we’re hoping his work prompts a bit of debate!

While he was a hugely popular artist during his lifetime, he remained something of an outsider, scorned by art critics like John Ruskin and the Royal Academy of Arts at the time.

The drama and spectacle of his paintings did, though, earn him fans like Charles Dickens and the Brontë sisters, while showing works at popular venues meant his works were seen by the mass market rather than an academic elite.

John Martin, 'The Plains of Heaven' 1851-3

John Martin
The Plains of Heaven 1851-3
Oil on canvas
support: 1988 x 3067 mm frame: 2415 x 3485 x 175 mm
Bequeathed by Charlotte Frank in memory of her husband Robert Frank 1974

View the main page for this artwork

Did the show provoke you think about ‘good taste’ and ‘bad taste’? Or how the way we see art can change over time?

I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on John Martin and his art, and about the exhibition itself, so please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Comments

Sean Cubitt

No question but that as a painter Martin is a one-trick pony, but what a trick! He is wise to reduce his human characters to cyphers, and to cast them into the formal vocabulary of poses that had developed as a language of theatrical emotion by the 1820s. They are there, like explorers standing next to glaciers, to give scale, and perhaps to gesture towards an affective response. But it wasn't the paintings that drew me. I had never seen the mezzotints in the flesh, and even decent reproductions don't do justice to his technique. Even more exciting were the three (?)lithographs: a technique still new at the time,m which he treats almost like ink and watercolour sketching. These print works sit between the blockbuster paintings as public spectacle and the mass reproduction of artworks that Rubens for one had turned into a business. Ruskin was perhaps too precious, in his preference for art distinct from popular culture: it's as illuminating to see Martin as precursor to the travelogue genre of prints in the Illustrated London Evening News as to Frith or Egg. The prints make that articulation apparent: even if they risk that aspoect of kitsch which made Greenberg so furious, not its spurious aesthetic but the fact that it allowed dictators the opportunity to masquerade as ordinary people. Victoria and Albert were the founders of this, imperial monarchs masquerading middle-class domesticity. Martin's position is interesting because he both caters to the yearning for sublimity and passion in the banality of the emerging industrial century, and reveals the cataclysmic results, should that yearning ever become reality. Something of the 'Romantic agony' of the Victorian unconscious - which the little brochure rightly associates 80-odd years later with CB de Mille. If he is to be called a great artist, it would have to be because he demonstrates the inhumanity of the sublime as such, and was an early observer of the truth of capital that Benjamin formulated: we witness the extermination of the species as the highest form of entertainment.

Ross Brown

I found the theatricalised triptych interesting and would like to know more about the way Martin presented these paintings on tour. Reminded me a little of the idea of De Loutherbourg's audiovisual Eidophusikon. I saw a lot of links between Martin and De Loutherbourg in fact: theatrical, scenic artists both. While De Loutherbourg connected the early picturesque to Garrick's Drury Lane and visual entertainments such as The Wonders of Derbyshire, Martin seems to connect to mid 19th c spectacular theatre (Byron's Sardanapullus, Kean's Shakespeare revivals etc). I think the somewhat lurid, 'craft' style of painting still jars a little in relation to one's fine art sensibilities, but makes more sense and is aesthetically more approachable if seen more as part of an extended theatrical scenic art moment. But not sure whether Martin had anything to do with the theatre world?

Charmaine

I enjoyed the exhibition very much. some of the paintings were really sublime. The brilliant colours and the dramatic landscapes with tiny human figures was awesome.

enjoyed the sound and light show at the end too
It was good to learn about an artist about whom I knew very little

Thank you

James Nairne

I really enjoyed the exhibition - beautifully curated and some unfamiliar work that surprised me. I was glad there was a Glen Brown at the end (That made me smile) but actually it was the surface and mood of Peter Doig's "Echo Lake" in the Room 15 (!960-2000) which I connected to the use of (red) coloured glazes over thick (cool blue) impasto in the "The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum" (but was that effect the result of the 19287 damage, restorer's hand or Martin's?).

Doig has said about his painting that: "I often use heightened colours to create a sense of the experience, or mood or feeling of being there ... I think the paintings always refer back to a reality that we all have experience of ... I am using ... natural phenomena and amplifying them through the materiality of paint and the activity of painting."

I connected to Martin's work best when there was some connection to the moods and feelings of the natural world.

Dinah

Really enjoyed the exhibition. Technically these paintings seem brilliant. Admittedly there is a certain sameness about them when you see so many together, but I loved the drama and immense scale of the vision. I could certainly see how film directors were inspired, for big melodramas like '2012'. It's even got me interested in visiting the Isle of Man if it has dramatic scenery which inspired Martin.

Alix Christie

We wondered whether the tryptich could really stand up to the laser attack! Some in our party felt the son et lumière appropriate to the theatricality of the works; some of us felt it unnecessary. I agree with another viewer who suggested leaving the original works alone and projecting a video interpretation elsewhere.
Still and all edifying exhibit in terms of religious and historical references.

Lynda

Visited with a friend yesterday and was surprised to find the exhibition so interesting. As a member I shall return and spend more time. The scale and modernity of the works was amazing.

Ken Coy

An amazing technician with bags of fantastical drama - and an engineer with salient ideas. Criminal he was not better regarded and recognised in his own time.

Lesley Campbell

I saw this exhibition at the Millenium Galleries in Sheffield in August, so Tate Britain gave me another opportunity to appreciate the range of Martin's work. I especially enjoyed the 'showman' focus. At Sheffield there was more information about John Martin's background,family life/religous upbringing/responses to Darwinian arguments in his later work;also continuous showings of films inspired by Martin's work - I saw '10,000 Years BC'! I'm glad I was able to see both exhibitions - both very refreshing in subject and treatment.

Martin Myrone

Thanks, Mark - will will aim to track down the typo and put it right!

Martin Myrone

Thankyou, TC - all very interesting and thoughtful comments, especially about the impact of the final room and the less obviously bombastic works there.
There have been quite a few comments about the sound and light show - mostly positive, some more questioning or critical like yours. I will post a blog focussing on this topic.
As for information about the artist and his context - the accompanying catalogue issued by Tate Publishing provides much more detail on the life and career, with essays on his engineering interests and legacy. It is hard to communicate a great deal of the detail in the exhibition itself, without lots of distracting wall texts and graphics, but we hope that the wall texts give the essential data and some help around the themes of the show.
I also note your point about Martin's influence and legacy - I will aim to take this theme up in a later posting as well.

Martin Myrone

Thanks for these comments - the question of John Martin's legacy and influence is really important, clearly. Rather than reproduce the texts which you can read in the exhibition, we decided to focus on these themes in the exhibition leaflet, as you've noted. And the inclusion of the Glenn Brown painting right at the end was intended as a gesture pointing towards these themes. But I'll aim to pick up this topic in a future blog, it would be great to hear more thoughts about John Martin's influences.

Martin Myrone

... guess I should claim that was a deliberate mistake?
"We will aim to track down the typo..."

Brian Coxall

Congratulations on the outstanding curating work. I knew hardly anything about Martin, except from seeing one or two of his paintings in the regular Tate exhibition some while ago. But the arrangement of the works in the seven rooms and background information on each work and each room was enormously helpful. And showing the three large paintings in the way the Victorians would have seen them was illuminating. The exhibition was an example of real scholarship put to wonderful effect for people like me with minimum knowledge, as well no doubt for experts in the field.

Richard Woodhouse

Although I enjoyed the opportunity to view so many of Martin's work in one place, I do feel this was an opportunity lost to place his work in context and allow a real historical assessment. First, there is his contemporary context. Where were the Turners, Blakes etc to compare and judge? What were his influences? Where did he get that technique from? Second, is his modern context, the abstract qualities on the abstract expressionists, the prints in the light of pop art, the spectacle on cinema, the otherworldliness on fantasy art. etc Were there influences? What proof is there? Was it just coincidence? Some of this was metioned but nothing shown. It's and art exhibition not a brochure.

The biggest disappointment was the audio guide. I regret listening to it. The pair (was it you) clearly had such little passion for the work and added little to my understanding, other than his contemporaries didn't like his blues. The discussion on whether this was because of his decorative painting past was inane - as if someone with such evident painting skill was incapable of mixing whatever colour blue he wanted.
I couldn't face the AV presentation at the end - it sounded like a war zone. I sneaked a peek at the pictures between shows.

Oh and by the way no large T shirts left in the shop so soon after opening seemed rather odd.

I'm sorry this sounds like a moan, but I like Martin, often for his faults, and this was an opportunity that will not come again for another hundred years.

Mark Williams

Enjoyed the exhibition a lot, but would've liked more biographical detail (no mention of Martin's birthplace or early years on the walls or booklet). Parallels with the Hudson Valley school might have been apposite, too, and there was one significant typo on the wall in Room 1 ! ('that' instead of 'than').

Patrick Martin

There is a John Martin in Birmingham City Art Gallery. It was the first picture which really got to me aged about 15. I think it is a version of Pandemonium, but I first saw it more than 50 years agao and it was not on show when I last went there. I have been interested in him ever since. Having been to the exhibition, I have seen enough John Martin to last me for the rest of my life. He is a nineteenth century phenomenon but not, I fear, a great artist.

artforexample

Thought the art was brilliant - epic, grand, reminded me of a graphic novel or a superhero film in some ways - and wondered whether the Tate could do the moving-image thing that it did for the Final Triptych in some other exhibitions? Was a grand ending to the expo!

Nick Child

Great exhibition. Didn't know too much about him and didn't at the end (people have commented on the lack of biog and contextual 'value added' info re his peer contemporaries and society at large) but his art did speak for itself. Loved the light and sound installation - left me wondering if he would have been pleased or not. Thought the free leaflet accompanying the exhibition stated the obvious a bit - but overall a good and educational epxerience.

CHARLOTTE GIBBONS

I have always had a soft spot for John Martin since first seeing one of his apocalyptical paintings in my early teens. I am now 73 and seem to have been waiting for this exhibition for some time. It is especially interesting to see the images of huge, unnaturally tidy, legendary cities. He had such mastery of perspective and could make the unimaginable real. And the tiny tiny people, the detail is extraordinary. I only had time for a quick visit this time but hope to return.

artforexample

I also thought there was plenty of information about The Man Himself- seeing as the artist's ego and personal vision is a grand Romantic notion, and we're now in the era of Postmodernism, I wondered whether we could have found out more about Martin's context. I liked the quotes about what others' thought of him, but couldn't give a stuff about whether he made money or not, whether his brother went mad or not... More of a tie-in to the Victorian era and Industrial Revolution, plus religious beliefs at the time, would have been more useful than all the autobiography I reckon.

Bellachrista

I still found the paintings absorbing, fascinating and dramatic given our exposure in this century to various visual arts mediums. The scale and detail were almost overwhelming and this was made more so given that it is rare to see more than one Martin in a room. I thoroughly enjoyed being transported into these vast mythical visions and would certainly recommend this exhibition to others.
I found the light and sound show in Room 5 rather boring and dull light. It did not add anything to my understanding or appreciation of the paintings displayed or the impact they had back in the day they were displayed.

Andrew Frost

I caught this show in Sheffield in its smaller incarnation but was still dazzled by the experience. I've been a fan of Martin's The Great day of His Wrath since I first became aware of it after Glenn Brown copied it for his own massive painting. Finally seeing the originals in the flesh was a fascinating experience - Martin was an artist with a bag of tricks that he dipped into again and again, from the repetitive nature of the composition down to many details that recur throughout his paintings, yet despite or because of this, I was still beguiled and entertained by Martin's epic vision. The colours are often garish and the Victorian drama verging on camp yet like those millions who went to see his grand paintings in the 19th century, I am and will remain a fan! Question: any chance of a catalogue?

Laurie Lattimore

A great show - especially the triptych sound and light. The works are indeed awesome but would have been better without the figures who, whilst part of story of the picture, seemed poorly executed.

Enjoyed playing spot the ligting bolt and serpent theme that flows through many of his works.

Well worth seeing

mark white

After the Public Sector Pensions march across London yesterday, what could be more appropriate than John Martin's apocalyptic visions at Tate Britain? Sadly, no painting of George 'Bloody' Osbourne struck down by an avenging angel on the occasion of giving his autumn statement.

Room 6 was the most interesting, a reminder that this sort of vigorous and over-dramatized theatricality was once a central part of showing imagery, even in the 1850's. But, as I sat on the bench in front of the three paintings, they seemed poorly structured, their tonal values had been turned up to ten, they contained the same anatomically incorrect figures seen throughout his work: far too large, or small for their surroundings with legs twice as long as their bodies.

But the ultimate test is this: with the protesting chants from the day dying away in my ears ("when I say Clegg you say 'Tory', when I say Cameron you say: '****” etc), how else can I know that these are just, not very good paintings? The infinite crowds of blessed or the doomed are endlessly repeated by Martin, yet they have no resonance for a man who has just walked with crowds and chanted from Lincolns Inn Fields to Victoria Embankment; all together now: "No If's No But, No Education Cuts”.

Malcolm

John Martins wonderful, visionary paintings represent a kind of moral sublimity out of touch with contemporary thought, and we should be grateful that the exhibition draws him to our attention. Indeed a prophet in a strange land!

Niamh Riordain

I came new to Martin's work and found the exhibition fascinating. I thought the light show worked and give a brilliance to the paintings.

Mary Ha

I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition. I had seen his work before but never took note of him, this exhibition has certainly changed that. I thought the light show was an ingenious addition, as it allowed me to (rest my feet) and to have a little taste of how his work was used for entertainment. Perhaps he wasn't appreciated in his days due to his inspirations coming from prose, perhaps those artists didn't believe in recreating images from words? This reminds me of when we asked to make drawings/paintings from a passage in one of our English Literature books. Good times.

I bought Milton's Paradise Lost from the Tate shop because of Martin's visual recreation of certain passages.

The last addition of the painting in the style of Martin was a nice touch. I thought it was nice to see how current artists are influenced by him and thinking of some films that have been produced, how influenced they must have been by Martin.

Martin's work is dramatic and powerful and he's definitely made an impression on me.

Helen Burke

I loved "going to the pictures" and totally surrendered to the wow factor. I appreciate why Martin receives criticism but am glad the exhibition didn't adopt a po-faced attitude. (The wacky figures and hollyhocks recoiling in horror at the fall of Babylon increased the entertainment value!). I didn't have a chance to study the Great Day of his Wrath closely. A copy on the internet seems to show huge dark wings with a rather grumpy face at the centre. Is this right? - my husband thinks I'm seeing things.

marguerite christmas

Surprisingly I enjoyed his work enormously which was unexpected. Colours and detail make the works breathtaking. A return visit is essential.

Nick Duckworth

The exhibition met my expectations. I like his work, so I was easy to please. In room 3 you have a glass cabinet displaying a periodical from 1832, with a right-hand page showing an engraving of Belshazzar's Feast. The left-hand page has a full page article about the building that I live in 15/9/1832)! Bizarre.

Anthony O'Hear

The paintings are obviously bombastic rubbish, very much a case of more means less. (Just compare Martin with Turner, a few rooms away, also painting the power of nature - no, don't bother, it is all too obvious.) Popular taste being what it is then as now, no surprise that 8 million people went to see them, or that Martin's rhetorical stage sets influenced the cinema - Martin's works were the pop art of their day, and, as will happen to to-day's art celebrities, were rightly forgotten except in obscure provincial galleries. The exhibition has its historic interest, but it is a pity that there did not appear to be works of a similar type by contemporaries of Martin, such as Danby, Pettit and even Loutherberg so that we could get a better idea of the context. It was a great relief to stagger out of 'Apocalypse' into the wonderfully airy (and pretty well empty) room devoted to John Craxton - many thanks for that, but why has it not been better publicised?

Jill D

I wasn't terribly familiar with John Martin's art beforehand, and it did not change my expectation that I would find it garish and overblown, however I did enjoy the exhibition. In the flesh the paintings did repay close inspection, where you could appreciate the detailed brushwork, in particular the landscapes and the stippling of the trees and bushes. At a distance, though, certainly for the apocalyptic paintings, one lost the detail and just got a big blast of colour and swirling shapes. Many of the paintings just had too many different things going on - e.g. lightning forks appeared willy-nilly - without contributing much to the whole. However, I did particularly like Belshazzar's feast, partly the monumentality of the setting, and partly because, even with so much going on, it all felt like it was necessary to the story depicted. Anyway, whether you are a fan of John Martin or not, I think it's a thoroughly enjoyable exhibition (though the triptych son et lumiere didn't do much for me), and would recommend it.

david maclagan

yes, he's a far more interesting painter- especially in the later works- than the showman image allows for.

Kate Macdonald

I did enjoy the paintings and mezzotints a lot, they were stupendous: all that perspective and drama. But the 'theatrical presentation' was disappointing, and I couldn't be bothered listening for long. Some of the actors' voices were very good (eg the shouty man), the others just sounded like random Tate staff reading captions aloud, untrained, and not even specially interested in trying to be Victorian people. I liked the concept of recreating the atmosphere of a 19th sensation spectacle, but I don't think the projections worked at all (swirling distortions on selected bits of canvas were too far away to see the details, that were out of focus). An alternative might have been to have done more with Martin's very interesting modern influences, as set out in the little free booklet. The last painting in the exhib was wasted, so much more could have been done with how Martin's influence has lasted.

Stephen Hocking

Before visiting this exhibition, I neither loved or loathed Martin. My visit has not changed this BUT I know so much more about the man, his motivation and his works. I leant how fastidious research informed his biblical visions, and how he put his practical skills to use in designing visionary sewer and railway systems which are remarkably similar to what was actually implemented by others later in the 19th Century. The grand finale will not be to everyone's tastes - purists will scoff but then again purists will probably avoid the exhibition anyway. I enjoyed the somewhat kitsch audio visual display and so, I am sure will my kids when I bring them in the holidays. I have come to admire Martin the man if not always the artist. I enjoyed my visit and consider it an hour well spent. And has been pointed out - after such a rich main course - a refined dessert of Craxton will settle the stomach and the sensibilities.

steve

I think the word is "grand". We enjoyed the light show, and so I think would John Martin, but I can't think of other painters who would benefit from this treatment!

Mark Chapman

My first visit to London as a young man was to the Tate and I was astonished then by the works of John Martin. This exhibition has been long overdue but well worth the wait! Most enjoyable. Thanks for putting it on.

Sanjay Parekh

I really enjoyed this show. Especially the video presentation. I am a newcomer to John Martin, but was impressed by the history and level of his work. Inspiring! Keep it up!

Mike Farmer

Well, I'm not surprised he went big - his painting of the mere humans in the lower half of the paintings is really awful - heads out of proportion - all sorts of weirdness - and bulgy eyes a'plenty. These were the only sort of eyes I think he could do. He was hopeless at horses too. Some more early life-classes might have helped that.

However he was good at clouds and produced the best smiting by the Lord Gawd this side of Texas. Who is going to check out the figure painting at the end of the world? Loads of fun though, and really hilarious at times. And he invented neon Hebrew ...

Des Horan

As a member I took a second opportunity to see the exhibition and this time was better than the first. John Martin is growing on me. What an imagination the man had and versatile too. I can see how he would have inspired movie makers.

Richard Dunford

Having only known John Martin through a reproduction of his Queen Victoria's Coronation on a Penguin Classics edition of Lytton Strachey's biography of the Queen, I was delighted to have the opportunity to discover and learn about this Regency and early Victorian artist. I enjoyed the exhibition and will be back for a closer look as some of the detail was amazing but tended to be lost in the vastness of the overall composition. Like others who commented, I would have like a bit more context setting John Martin besidesa his contemporanies and I am sure I was not alone in seeing parallels between Martin and artists such as William Blake and Henry Fuselli. Well done, Tate, for the exhibition.

Richard Kirby

Just awful, I'm afraid. Grandiose and vulgar.

Paul Mendez

As an impecunious, struggling writer and artist, my £50 annual Tate Membership could seem an expensive indulgence if not for brilliant shows like John Martin: Apocalypse. I look forward to immersing myself in it as often as my schedule allows, right up until January.

Tate Britain has been quietly wiping the floor with everyone in terms of the quality of its recent shows. I learned more from the Susan Hiller retrospective, apropos of my own work, than perhaps any other show I've ever been to. Rachel Whiteread's exquisite "Drawings" was perfectly judged, as was the John Martin, which, in my opinion, did everything a retrospective should.

I want to see the development of an artist from dreamer to master; this calls for a chronological presentation. My main criticism of the Gerhard Richter show at Tate Modern is that so many time periods and lines of inquiry are all spliced amongst each other, making for an interesting visual spectacle, perhaps, but also for a disorienting personal experience. In my opinion an artist mutates throughout his life, not just in terms of getting older and maturing technically, but also as a result of external factors such as politics. I moved through the rooms at a brisk walking pace, as if past shop windows on Oxford Street. It didn't help that I chose to go on a Saturday afternoon, of course, as the gallery was packed and I couldn't engage with the work; unlike many visitors I don't go to shows to stare blankly at individual brush strokes, or to give know-it-all running commentaries on each work to my friends so that everyone else can hear. The only other time I've been so desperate to get out of a Tate exhibition was Mark Rothko, which was also criticised for its hang.

Mercifully, I visited Tate Britain on an inconspicuous Tuesday afternoon, but although there weren't great crowds in front of each picture, I would like to think that the main reason for the library-like silence was the visitors' collective respect and reverence for the awesome works on display. I have rarely, if ever, seen paintings that are so exquisitely detailed and executed with such devotional concentration. As a child who was raised almost exclusively with the book of Revelation, the drama and exploration of the sublime were deeply affecting. Two watercolours in Room 1 - were they included in the Watercolour exhibition? - were amongst the most exceptional examples of the technique I've ever seen. I also loved the performance treatment given the triptych at the end of the show, although parts of the narration were mildly irritating.

All in all, congratulations on a brilliant show, the best I've seen since, well, Susan Hiller and Rachel Whiteread.

Colin Hill

This was an artist I'm afraid to say I knew very little about. I found the 'cinematic vision' quite a revelation - I kept thinking of movies like 'Inception' 'Star Wars' as I walked round. And I loved all the futuristic cities in the sky. At the same time I was struck by the repetitive nature of the pictures - all those amateurish forks of lightning! - but as another of the visitors I overheard said, "Sometimes it's just great to see something that's completely over the top". Yes, educational and fun.

David Cutting

Unlike one of your blog contributors, I really enjoyed the sound and light show of The Last Judgement Triptych. It was another way of seeing the paintings, enhancing their drama and I thought done with some imagination. I watched the presentation before I saw the paintings fully lit and it was an interesting perspective to have had when they were finally revealed.
I liked his big dramatic paintings and I never felt there was an issue of 'taste'. I don't really understand what it means in this context. Either you think they work as dramatic pieces or you don't; you like that sort of thing or you don't. To suggest that a colour scheme is somehow 'tasteless' seems to me a very strange criticism of a work of art. All manner of artists have used colour in unusual ways to achieve the effects they want. The question is not one of taste but whether it works.
I felt that in some of the works, the dramatic landscape spectacle was rather let down by poorly done figures or, more critically, figures that added nothing to the picture and looked as if they were almost an afterthought. That is weak composition. On the other hand other pictures, teeming with hordes, were amazing, with extraordinary detail of faces.
I really liked the mezzotints and I was very disappointed that there wasn't a postcard reproduction of Satan in Council that I could have bought. I was also disappointed that I didn't understand the explanation on the wall about how a mezzotint is achieved. I think you could have provided an illustrated step-by-step explanation. I thought some of the effects John Martin achieved were very impressive and possibly I would have been even more impressed if I had understood how they were achieved.

betsy barker

I grew up in rural New York State, and we had several large Hudson River type landscapes in our house....sort of reminds me of those, but the colour is absolutely fluorescent! Loved the theatre bit for the 3 big ones at the end, but not my favourite really. Went to the starkly contrasting Flanagan after, and then assuaged my eyes in the 20th century rooms. I so love both Tates, and wish i lived closer, but will never give up my membership!!
Betsy

Neil Bennison

I'd seen the three 'Last Judgment' paintings years ago and had been amazed by them. What I hadn't expected was so many other paintings executed on such a lavish scale. Yes, up to a point they may be variations on a well worn template, but the combination of grandeur and minute details is genuinely awe-inspiring. And I had no idea he was such an accomplished watercolourist. The study of the oak tree and the smaller version of, I think(!), one of the Plagues of Egypt were brilliantly executed.

And the more I saw of these the more the debt owed by Emmerich and Jackson became clear.

Mary Rodger

At the time of my visit to the John Martin exhibition, I was still rather shaky after the mind-blowing experience of Richter at Tate Modern. Even the apocalyptic Martin seemed almost tame by comparison! Must admit it's not my favourite period, but I was interested none-the-less. My overall impression was of glowing reds and pinks. I looked at them mainly in terms of colour, texture and form. Obviously loaded with biblical and personal symbolism, but this was not my area of interest. Through half-closed eyes they looked marvellous, but surely this was not how they were meant to be viewed! I don't regret going, but probably won't go again.

Tom

Fantastic exhibition. I got the audio guide which was definitely the right choice as the narration was brilliant - pictures that I might have dismissed out of hand were really brought to life. Initially I was very sceptical of Martin's work, but ended up being converted. Sheer showmanship on an epic scale.

On an extremely geeky note, after the audio guide drew my attention to Martin's possible influence on Star Wars among others I couldn't quite believe how similar the scene from 'Revenge of the Sith' where Anakin meets Palpatine in the Senate chamber is to 'Satan in Council.' The future emperor delivers his speech from a floating sphere in the middle of a huge Albert hall like auditorium. Went back and watched it and had a quiet giggle. Have Lucas etc ever acknowledged Martin as an inspiration?

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