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Dartmoor - A Wild & Wondrous Region

8th March 2018 by Sam Cooke

Dartmoor: a Wild and Wondrous Region is an exhibition that shines a light on a landscape that has inspired generations of artists. Dartmoor was transformed by the imaginations of artists such as J. M. W. Turner, Thomas Rowlandson, and Samuel Palmer. Once described as a ‘dreary mountainous tract', their depictions of its hills, tors, and rivers altered public perception until many considered it the epitome of the picturesque. The coming of the railways to Dartmoor brought greater numbers of visiting tourists, prompting locally-based artists such as William and F. J. Widgery to create immensely-popular landscapes, which were reproduced as postcards and railway posters specifically aimed at this newly-emerging market. The artists in this exhibition depicted the moor using a wide range of media, including oil paintings, watercolours, engravings, and early photographs. Dartmoor: a Wild and Wondrous Region includes works from RAMM's own collection, alongside loans from several British museums and galleries and rarely-seen works from private collections.

During the initial design stages we focused on establishing an overall visual direction for the gallery space. Care was taken to ensure that our input contributed to, but didn’t fight or overpower the beautiful works on display. A sense of 'place' was achieved in part by typographically-treating notable quotations in a manner that echoed Dartmoor's rolling hills and granite tors – placing them high above the works to add verticality to the exhibition and to make best use of the available space. A welcoming two-by-three-metre 'hero' panel was designed to open the exhibition space with an oversized painting of Dartmoor by F. J. Widgery, immediately introducing the viewer to the scale of the locations depicted.

Colour was introduced into the exhibition design by sparingly painting areas within the gallery a deep purple – suggestive of a heather-covered moorland. This colour was eventually applied to the ends of the panels –providing 'natural breaks’ for the viewer – as well as the fabric lining of the glass display cases placed within the gallery. This more muted colour scheme was rolled out over the series of information panels accompanying the works, while our 'title green' – the most vivid green value in the hero image – was reserved for more interaction-specific panels such as donation information. 

We are hugely proud of our work and have been delighted by the feedback it has received. It would seem clear that many visitors have enjoyed the exhibition as much as we did designing it. 

The exhibition is free, and is open until 31 March 2018 - Click here for further details

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