Employing local drama and art students to lead performative tours by torchlight, visitors were granted access to hidden parts of the building where they encountered artworks and historic artefacts, including the devil’s hoofprint, architectural curios and John Dee’s own miniature marginalia. Tours culminated in the stately Baronial Hall where world-renowned Theremin musician Lydia Kavina performed a selection of works and improvisations from inside a gigantic fireplace. There, visitors enjoyed a smoking, red cocktail created and served by ‘The Alchemist’, in the building forever associated with 16th century scientist and alchemist John Dee.
Gestured is a constellation of artworks inspired by alchemy, transformation and symbolic gesture, hidden within the books and secret spaces of the library. Sculptural hands support objects, fabrics and prints informed by the collection; colourful forms in hot glass are inspired by the alchemists’ search for the transformation of matter; and a series of hand-made alchemical vessels have been reproduced from historical images of apparatus.