Magic at the Pump House

Published: Tuesday 19th October 10

Colin Guillemet
Untitled (anything but a rabbit), 2006
Courtesy the artist, © the artist A unique exhibition exploring the interplay between theatrical magic and art is now showing at the Pump House Gallery, Battersea Park until December 18.

Magic Show, a Hayward Touring exhibition, considers how art and magic often share common ground, and how some contemporary artists adopt the perception-shifting tactics of the theatrical magician to influence the viewer and explore the power of suggestion.

Curated by artist Jonathan Allen and writer Sally O'Reilly, the exhibition includes work by 24 international artists, with new commissions and performances, and an archive of historical posters, curious props and off-beat ephemera from the world of theatrical magic.

It demonstrates how art and magic both flourish in the grey area between fact and fiction, where the audience is not sure whether to believe their own eyes, and considers the potential of trickery and illusion to undermine the logical thought.

Artists include Joan Brossa, Tom Friedman, Christian Jankowski, Janice Kerbel, Juan Mu┼łoz, Ian Saville and Suzanne Treister.

Among the artists and works in the exhibition are the Los Angeles-based Center for Tactical Magic's Ultimate Jacket, designed for 'private investigators, magicians and ninjas', which has 50 pockets for optimum concealment and retrieval and will be worn by the gallery assistants; Susan Hiller's Homage to Yves Klein incorporates found photographs of people levitating, ranging from the low-tech sham to highly sophisticated ruse, while Failing to Levitate documents Bruce Nauman's similar attempts to get off the ground; Sinta Werner's site-specific installations mimic architectural features within the gallery to distort space and trick the viewer.

As part of the exhibition three special events will be taking place at the gallery:

  • 24 October 2010, 1:30pm - 3:30pm, Drawing on Your Future
  • 20 November 2010, 1:30pm -  2:30pm, Magic Lantern Workshop
  • 1 December 2010, 4:30pm - 6:00pm, The Magician's Revelations

Admission to the Pump House is free and opening times are 11am - 5pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays, Bank Holidays; and 11am to 4pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

The management of the Pump House has recently been transferred to Wandsworth Council's arts and events team. This means the building will no longer be used solely as an art gallery, but will be available for a wider range of arts and culture uses.

An exciting programme of events is currently being planned for next year and a public consultation will take place from January so local people can have their say on the different types of events they would like to see taking place.

The Pump House will be closed from January to March while the historic building undergoes a council funded renovation project.

For more information and images contact Laura Eldret :020 7350 0523 /

To find out more about the Pump House Gallery visit

Image Credit:

Colin Guillemet
Untitled (anything but a rabbit), 2006
Courtesy the artist, © the artist


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