New art installation at Kensington Palace

New art installation at Kensington Palace

External architecture detail

20 September 2013

Call and Responses: The Odyssey of the Moor by Graeme Mortimer Evelyn, celebrates ethnic dimensions to royal histories

From 25 September 2013 until 6 January 2014, Kensington Palace.

Historic Royal Palaces is pleased to announce an exciting new art installation, entitled Call and Responses: The Odyssey of the Moor, will go on display in the Queen’s State Apartments at Kensington Palace. The installation is the work of artist Graeme Mortimer Evelyn, in collaboration with Historic Royal Palaces, Royal Collection Trust and supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’s Grants for the arts programme.

The work is a contemporary response to John van Nost’s Bust of the Moor – an astonishingly beautiful and lavishly expensive sculpture commissioned by King William III in 1688/1689. The bust depicts a black servant dressed in ‘Oriental’ fashion, but with an unmistakable slave collar. Made from coloured marbles and semi-precious stones, this item has long resided in Kensington Palace.

Through Call and Responses, Evelyn re-imagines lost narratives that may have led to the commissioning of this exquisite and mysterious art work. He places the bust within a gilded cage, but with its doors flung open to capture the view over Kensington Gardens. He creates for the Moor a dream of self-determination and freedom. Call and Responses - The Odyssey of the Moor is an enquiry into structures of physical space, social strata and philosophical ideas on human nature and survival.  This engaging work opens up untold stories and access to a national historic site for diverse audiences. Its installation period is designed to include Black History Month in October.

In a recent series of commissions, Evelyn has developed a reputation for creating work in places of worship and public buildings that subvert these settings. Evelyn is inspired by the researching and re-creation of alternative histories and mythologies. Last year he produced an exhibition for Jamaica's 50th anniversary during the London 2012 Olympics. The display explored notions of identity and belonging that have helped to inform the work produced this year for Kensington Palace.

Graeme Mortimer Evelyn, artist, commented:
'This exciting commission is a wish fulfilled from when I started down the path of creating public art within site-specific historical contexts. I feel proud to be representing not only a generation of British artists, but also artists of African Diaspora heritage.'

Joanna Marschner, Senior Curator, Kensington Palace said: 
'Kensington Palace welcomes this opportunity to work with a thoughtful young artist. Youthful eyes draw new truths from the amazing historic treasures in our charge.'

Notes to Editors

For further information visit or contact the Press Office: 020 3166 6166 or

Graeme Mortimer Evelyn’s work comments on cultural social identity, politics and language. He describes these narratives forming “when fragments of relation, memory, society, identity and modernity, which seem disparate at first, come together to form a whole”. His works have also been displayed and collected in Princeton University Center for African American Studies NJ, Cornell University NY, Museum of London Docklands, Gloucester Cathedral, Saint Stephens Church Bristol, Watershed and M-Shed Bristol.

Black History Month (BHM) is held every October in Britain. The aims are to:
• Promote knowledge of the Black History, Cultural and Heritage
• Disseminate information on positive Black contributions to British Society
• Heighten the confidence and awareness of Black people to their cultural heritage

Kensington Palace has been home to some of the country’s most charismatic and best-known royals, including George II, Queen Victoria, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales. Originally built in 1605 as a private country house, it was purchased in 1689 by King William III and Queen Mary II, eager to escape from the damp and smoke of Whitehall. They immediately ordered major improvements to the Jacobean mansion to make it fit for royal residence. The palace includes contributions from some of the most renowned architects of the past three centuries, including Sir Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawksmoor, Sir John Vanbrugh, John Nash, Colin Campbell and William Kent.

Historic Royal Palaces is the charity that looks after: Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. We believe in four principles. Guardianship: giving these palaces a future as long and valuable as their past. Discovery: encouraging people to make links with their own lives and today’s world.  Showmanship: doing everything with panache. Independence: having our own point of view and finding new ways to do our work. Registered charity number 1068852.

The Royal Collection, one of the world's greatest art collections.  It is held in trust by the Sovereign for her successors and the nation, and is not owned by The Queen as a private individual.  The Collection is administered by The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity.  At The Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh and in the Drawings Gallery at Windsor Castle, aspects of the Collection are displayed in a programme of temporary exhibitions.  Many works from the Collection are on long-term loan to institutions throughout the UK, and short-term loans are frequently made to exhibitions around the world as part of a commitment to public access and to show the Collection in new contexts.  For more information visit

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