Oceania is the first ever major survey of Oceanic art to be held in the United Kingdom. This ambitious exhibition celebrates the art of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia, encompassing the vast Pacific region from New Guinea to Easter Island, Hawaii to New Zealand. The exhibition brings together around 200 exceptional works from public collections worldwide, and spans over 500 years. It is a rare opportunity to be immersed in the art and culture of an area that represents nearly a third of the world’s surface, a region rich in history, ritual and ceremony. The exhibition marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy, founded in 1768, the same year Captain James Cook set sail on his first expedition to the Pacific on the Endeavour.
In 1768, Captain James Cook left Plymouth on what was the first of three voyages. Across the Pacific he encountered a world that was both highly sophisticated and, thanks to ocean-going canoes and navigational aids, interconnected despite the significant distances between islands. Oceania draws on rich and well-documented historic collections to explore this history and, in so doing, presents new contexts in which the objects can be better understood and appreciated.
Exhibition designers Real Studios and the Royal Academy’s brief to DALD was for the lighting to create a sensitive yet immersive quality to the exhibition, as well as adhering to the strictest conservation constraints. The lighting design approach for each gallery utilised steep lighting angles to accentuate the form and texture of the large and small objects. The design of the first gallery “Voyaging and Navigation” gives the impression of the space being lit by moonlight through the use of colour correction filters along with the projection of refracted water on the walls, floor and display plinths of the gallery. As the exhibition designers chose a different colour finish for the walls in each of the galleries this was enhanced through lighting by projecting soft hues of similar colour to the walls. One of the final spaces within this extensive exhibition is a large scale Audio Visual experience “In pursuit of Venus [infected]” by the New Zealand multi-media artist Lisa Reihana – the lighting in this immersive space created a sense of being in an external area, through dappled light being projected over visitors.
Control of the lighting throughout the exhibition was critical not only for the conservation requirements but also to help offset the exhibits within the galleries. DALD utilised the Royal Academy’s new stock of iGuzzini Palco fixtures with various accessories along with a supplement of LED zoom profiles fixtures, LED strips and customised water ripple FX.
Oceania has received outstanding acclaim from the worlds press for the excellent design and curatorial approach.
Images: Real Studios
Client: Royal Academy of Arts
Exhibition Design: Real Studios
Lighting Design: David Atkinson Lighting Design
Graphic Design: Tim Harvey
Curators: Peter Brunt, Nicholas Thomas, Adrian Locke
Exhibition Manager: Flora Fricker
Lighting Suppliers: Enliten, MJ Lighting, iGuzzini