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Curated Exhibition

The Horror Show!

The Horror Show! A Twisted Tale of Modern Britain is co-curated by Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard with Claire Catterall, Somerset House’s senior curator. At the Embankment Galleries at Somerset House from 27 October 2022 – 19 February 2023. 

This major exhibition presents an alternative perspective on the last five decades of British culture in three acts – Monster, Ghost and Witch. It features over 200 artworks and culturally significant artefacts from some of the country’s most provocative artists reacting to our most troubling times. 

“The harder the times, the more we need horror. A safe space to face fear. So roll up and let the alchemical archetypes, Monster, Ghost and Witch, guide you through a subversive story of British culture. The radical artists and anarchic troublemakers who shaped who we are, and how we got here. But don’t be fooled, The Horror Show! is not a nostalgia trip. It’s a tactical toolkit to show us what’s possible. A dark mirror in which we might just glimpse the future.” Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard

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Opening The Horror Show! Monster begins by delving into the economic and political turbulence of the 1970s and the high octane spectacle and social division of the 1980s. Against a backdrop of unrest and uprising, it charts the origin story and ascent of the individuals who will go on to disrupt, define and destroy British culture, while exploring the monsters which plague society today.

Contributing artists include Marc Almond, Bauhaus, Judy Blame, Leigh Bowery, Philip Castle, Chila Burman, Helen Chadwick, Monster Chetwynd, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Tim Etchells, Noel Fielding, Martin Green & Mark Moore, Pam Hogg, Dick Jewell, Harminder Judge, Daniel Landin, Jeanette Lee, Andrew Liles, Linder, London Leatherman, Don Letts, Luciana Martinez de la Rosa, Lindsey Mendick, Peter Mitchell, Dennis Morris, Matilda Moors, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Keith Piper, Guy Peellaert, Gareth Pugh, Jamie Reid, Derek Ridgers, Nick Ryan, Ralph Steadman, Ray Stevenson, Poly Styrene, Francis Upritchard and Jenkin van Zyl.


The show’s second act, ​Ghost, marks the collapse of hyperinflated 1980’s culture into an uncanny temperature change that presided over the 1990s and early 2000s. It traces an unsettling path through to the global financial crisis of 2008, a turning point in time between a century of old and new, at the dawn of a digital age of faceless audiences and invisible cyber wars.

Contributing artists include A Guy Called Gerald, Barry Adamson, Hamad Butt, Adam Chodzko, Kevin Cummins, Graham Dolphin, Tim Etchells, Angus Fairhurst, Paul Finnegan, Ghostwatch, Laura Grace Ford, Lucy Gunning, Paul Heartfield, Susan Hiller, Matthew Holness & Richard Ayoade, Stewart Home, Derek Jarman, Michael Landy, Richard Littler (Scarfolk), Jeremy Millar, Haroon Mirza, Drew Mulholland, Pat Naldi & Wendy Kirkup, Cornelia Parker, Steve Pemberton, Nic Roeg, Richard Russell, Nick Ryan, Scanner (Robin Rimbaud), Adam Scovell, Sensory Leakage, David Shrigley, Iain Sinclair, Kerry Stewart, Tricky, Gavin Turk, Richard Wells, Rachel Whiteread, Words & Pictures.


The exhibition’s final act, Witch, focuses on 2008’s financial crash until the present day, and celebrates the emergence of a younger generation and their hyper-connected community – a global coven readily embracing a dynamic grounded in integration and equality. Penny Slinger and Zadie Xa forgo the patriarchal occult and old world druidism with a new sorcery, rooted in ecology and bodily autonomy.

Contributing artists include Ackroyd & Harvey, Josh Appignanesi, Ruth Bayer, Anna Bunting-Branch, Juno Calypso, Leonora Carrington, Coil, Charlotte Colbert, Marisa Carnesky, Damselfrau, Jesse Darling, Eccentronic Research Council, Jake Elwes, Tim Etchells, Gazelle Twin, Bert Gilbert, Rose Glass, Miles Glyn, Tyreis Holder, Matthew Holness, Sophy Hollington, Bones Tan Jones, Isaac Julien, Tina Keane, Serena Korda, Linder, Hollie Miller & Kate Street, Grace Ndiritu, Col Self, Tai Shani, Oliver Sim, Penny Slinger, Matthew Stone, Linda Stupert & Carl Gent, Suzanne Treister, Cathy Ward, Ben Wheatley, Zoe Williams and Zadie Xa.

The distinct signature design of the exhibition is courtesy of architects Sam Jacob Studio and Grammy-winning creative studio Barnbrook.

The special exhibition shop, edited by Faye Dowling’s alternative art store, will feature an exclusive range of limited edition items, including a collectible exhibition catalogue priced at £15, alongside a selection of original and inspired gifts, from clothing and accessories, to limited edition prints, books and zines.

The exhibition catalogue contains original texts by John Doran, Natalie Olah and Patricia MacCormack, introductions from co-curators Claire Catterall, Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard plus a foreword from Somerset House Artistic Director, Jonathan Reekie. The catalogue is edited by Faye Dowling and designed by Barnbrook.

Images © The artists and photographers.

Design by:
Catalogue editor:


Somerset House, London

Barnbrook and Sam Jacob Studio

Faye Dowling

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