Ivey Galleries, Second Level

Inspired by the unknown, uncanny, and unearthly, Spectral explores our fascination with  the supernatural — ghosts, hauntings, and the afterlife — bringing together both contemporary art and historical artifacts. Through strange narratives and spooky, artist-created immersive environments, the exhibition considers how such phenomena continue to inform belief, behaviour, and popular culture.

Works by participating artists Christina Battle, Corinne Botz, the Broadbent Sisters, Mere Phantoms, Dana Holst, Ed Pien, and Marigold Santos generate fantasy worlds and thrust nightmares into the everyday. The exhibition includes newly commissioned multimedia installations, light and shadow displays (phantasmagoria), and images of haunted sites and beings.

Spectral draws in artifacts from Museum London’s material culture collection that demonstrate the ways Londoners have understood and coped with mortality. These include technologies invented to access the “other side,” such as speaking trumpets, Ouija boards, and devices for automatic writing. It also presents an array of Victorian-era ars moriendi (the “art of dying”) including black mourning apparel, jewellery, and related ephemera. 

This exhibition complements the launch of Grand Ghosts, an original theatrical production by London’s Grand Theatre that recounts the mysterious 1919 disappearance of former owner and impresario Ambrose Small. 

The term “horror” comes from the Latin word “horrere,” meaning to “bristle” or “shiver.” Oftentimes horror is evoked in the places between; between life and death, beauty and the grotesque, innocence and transgression, and what is perceived as reality versus illusion. As the days become darker with the changing of the season, experience this exhibition as a celebration of the unknown and unquiet.

Image: Dana Holst, Maids of the Mist, 2011, oil on canvas, Collection of Louise Dirks and Arthur Fafard, Image Courtesy of the artist