The Inspiration of Cliffe Castle

Artist Mike Moor has spent the last two years studying and creating works inspired by the displays at Cliffe Castle Museum. This exhibition is testimony to the hours spent and the imagination of the artist.

Due to the Covid 19 pandemic the exhibition is currently online but can be viewed in person when Cliffe Castle reopens until 13 December 2020. 

The works featured here can be purchased from Cliffe Castle Museum. Unframed prints can be purchased directly from the artist’s website. For all up to date information on the artist and his work follow his instagram account.

“My first experience of Cliffe Castle was like walking into someone else’s imagination with its complex threads and stories; it was a visual and intellectual feast. The opportunity to exhibit here and work freely from the collection has been a gift for an artist whose images are embedded in the grit and strangeness of life.”

“My instinct, surrounded by so much stimulus was to etch directly from the mallard skeleton in the natural history gallery. The intense looking needed to copy with some accuracy is in a way a reverential act and prevented me from imploding like an over-awed child in a sweet shop.

Two favourite pieces are the Horse and Groom maquettes which have been so skilfully rendered with an energy and life that belies their small size. Likewise the maquette of Atlas carrying the Celestial Spheres, with its rich connotations and sense of timeless human burden.

Once I began drawing and etching from the exhibits other possibilities arose from the subconscious to create personal narratives and new meanings: for example the horse melded with the groom, rearing against some unknown force, a mythological invention both powerful and vulnerable. The wonderful kiwi from the Natural History room also wandered into a few pieces where it became a presence not necessarily of raven-like doom, but at least of fate, hence he listens at the bed of the lying figure in The Wake as though waiting for the last breath, or becomes a shadow-like premonition in Prophet in the Wilderness.”

Mike Moor: Artist

“Making art has always been a way to think through experience. I don’t mean it is therapeutic or descriptive, but that my deeper connections and wrangles are best explored visually, and as such, much of the work is symbolic of life experiences. The exhibition is a kind of hallucinatory diary, a gut response to the world around me and a homage to the collection.

I was born on a Pennine farm in 1966, but despite finding my vocation away from livestock have always felt a deep connection between animal and human worlds. The anthropomorphic quality to my work reflects this history along with an awareness of the physical and psychic split that mankind has created between itself and the rest of nature. The themes of vulnerability to forces beyond our control and a search for meaning in a complex, fractious age often sit below the surface.

I hope you enjoy the show. With warmest thanks to the staff at Cliffe Castle.”