17th April to 30th August 2010
Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, Middlesbrough
17th April 2010 marks the opening of an exhibition of new paintings by celebrated artist Mackenzie Thorpe to commemorate 240 years since the explorer Captain James Cook first landed in Australia. Thorpe is back in the UK after a series of exhibitions in Japan, Australia, the United States and New Zealand. These international exhibitions achieved unprecedented popularity for a British artist: several million visitors came through the gates to see his four-venue show ‘The World of Mackenzie Thorpe’ in Japan, 2008. In San Francisco, his work was hung alongside Salvador Dali and Magritte. One Man’s Journey also marks the first major presentation of Thorpe’s work in Middlesbrough, his hometown.
One Man’s Journey is divided into three areas: Middlesbrough, Australia and Cook with paintings relating to each subject. As well as being Cook’s birthplace, Middlesbrough has other Australian connections, most notably the building of Sydney Harbour Bridge at the Steel Works. The first section of the exhibition is filled with Northern imagery including a series of paintings of Middlesbrough’s iconic Transporter Bridge, a proud symbol of the region’s industrial heritage. ‘My Endeavour’ refers to Captain Cook’s ship HMS Endeavour as well as the feeling of trepidation when embarking on a new venture. Other works including ‘The Grove’ and ‘Stranded in Tribulation’ depict the knock-out sensory impact that Australia and its extraordinary landscape must have had on Cook and his crew when they first landed in Botany Bay 240 years ago.
As in all his shows, Thorpe’s core aim is to find a universal language through art; common threads of emotional intelligence and visual signs that are recognised everywhere, through ages and continents. Judging by the extent of the popularity of his work, this ambition is met with considerable success.