I’ve selected a couple of works to draw attention to from this month’s Exhibition Flights of Fancy from the Grimsby Public Art Gallery’s permanent collection. Many of the works selected for this exhibition have a fascinating myth connected to them.
A 16th century woodcut was uncovered in the galleries vault by last year’s Collections Management student Melissa LaPorte, which tells the story of Hermes decapitating Argos. It depicts a tragic Greek myth of love and loss, about a beautiful young maiden named Io (eye-oh) whom the Greek God Zeus falls madly in love with and attempts to seduce, but she does not return his feelings. His wife Hera becomes suspicious that Zeus is having an affair with her, so Zeus turns Io into a cow whom Hera sets on a mountainside with Argos, the giant beast with one hundred eyes, so that Zeus cannot save her. Her father pleas for her return, so Zeus sends Hermes to decapitate Argos. Hermes plays upon Argos’ loneliness and offers to sit and play him some of his enchanting music and one by one each of his eyes close shut, eventually putting Argos to sleep. Hermes takes this opportunity to decapitate the beast in his sleep, and Io is free to run away. Once Hera learns what has happened she is upset that Argos died in her service. In his honour she sets his eyes in the tail of a Peacock.
Another great example of myths depicted in this month’s exhibition is Leda and the Swan by Donna Ibing. It tells the Greek myth of Zeus who came to the maiden Leda in the form of a swan. This work is a part of a series of woodcuts entitled Goddesses, illustrating Ibing’s exploration of the female image in mythology. It is an elegy of woman’s lost divinity, using familiar images of womanhood in the pre-Christian myths of the Greeks.
If any of these myths catch your fancy, come to the art gallery to check out rest of the works selected!
Leda and the Swan, 1996
Untitled (Hermes Decapitating Argos), 16th century
Collection of the Grimsby Public Art Gallery, Anonymous Donation in Honour and memory of Dennis Lukas