School of Art
Kangchenjunga: Imaging a Himalayan Mountain4 July – 16 September 2005
This exhibition of photographs, paintings and prints of the celebrated mountain Kangchenjunga took place in the School of Art Galleries to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first ascents in May 1955 by a team of British climbers. The exhibition, curated by Simon Pierse, was been jointly organized by the Alpine Club and The University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
The exhibition and accompanying catalogue surveys the history of Kangchenjunga as a pictorial and literary subject and examine the differing ways in which it has been seen and interpreted by British and European artists, photographers, mountaineers, poets, authors and travel-writers over the period c1848–2005.
The third highest mountain in the world (8586 m., 28,169 ft.) has been a topographical feature to be sketched, mapped and surveyed; it has been seen as an emblem of colonial possession; later an embodiment of the sublime, a picturesque motif, a mountaineering challenge, a peak conquered but left un-trodden; and recurrently throughout all of these, a sacred mountain and symbol of spirituality. Added to all of these ways of seeing Kangchenjunga is the significance of the mountain to the Nepalese and Sikkimese people who live in its shadow, and to whom the mountain is symbolically the residence of a god.
Many have been captivated by Kangchenjunga’s magnificence, its transient and ethereal qualities, hovering, as it sometimes appears to, half-hidden above the clouds and indeed sometimes even mistaken for a cloud. As a subject Kangchenjunga has an important place, not only in the history of British mountaineering, but also within the sublime and romantic traditions of British and European art.