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Gallery hosts world-first exhibition of the magic behind ‘His Dark Materials’

23 Oct 2022 4 minute read
Lyra Belacqua and her dæmon, Pan, BBC/HBO

A Swansea art gallery is to host a world exclusive in-depth exhibition of the off-screen magic that has gone into the TV adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery is teaming up with Welsh production company Bad Wolf to present a look behind-the-scenes of BBC and HBO’s multi-award-winning His Dark Materials, the series based on Pullman’s award-winning trilogy of novels, which will conclude with the third and final season later this year.

The exhibition called His Dark Materials: World Building in Wales will offer visitors the opportunity to see costumes, concept art, Visual Effects footage, props and more from across all three seasons.

Lyra Belacqua (Dafne Keen) is an orphan who lives in a parallel universe in which human souls live outside the body, in the form of animals called dæmons. We first meet Lyra as a baby, left under the care of the scholars at Jordan College by her supposed uncle, Lord Asriel (James McAvoy).

The trilogy follows her extraordinary journey through the many Worlds of His Dark Materials, pursued by the religious authority, the Magisterium.

Aiding her on her journey is Will Parry (Amir Wilson), and her own dæmon, Pan (voiced by Kit Connor). The cast also features Ruth Wilson as the formidable Mrs Coulter, Lin-Manuel Miranda as aeronaut Lee Scoresby, and Simone Kirby as scientist Mary Malone.

Spectrum of creativity

The majority of the series was filmed at Wolf Studios Wales in Cardiff, which utilised its 6 stages to create the many worlds of His Dark Materials, from the sprawling streets of Cittàgazze to the snow-covered North and the palace of the armoured bears on Svalbard.

The exhibition will fill the gallery’s beautiful Atrium and Room 8 and 9 on the first floor. In the Atrium space visitors can see key props such as the alethiometer, the subtle knife, and the amber spyglass, as well as larger set pieces such as the Cittàgazze angels, Magisterium banners, and Lord Asriel’s projector.

In Rooms 8 and 9, there will be the opportunity to see intricate costumes from characters across all three seasons, as well as concept boards, illustrations, videos and Visual Effects sequences showing the full spectrum of creativity involved in bringing the stories to life.

The organisers say that the exhibition will not only celebrate Philip Pullman’s trilogy and the success of Bad Wolf’s television adaptation, but also the importance of artistry and creativity in all its forms that contribute to bringing a TV series to life.

His Dark Materials BBC/HBO


Bad Wolf CEO, Jane Tranter said, “The level of artistry that goes into every costume, set and prop on His Dark Materials is beyond anything I have seen produced before. To have the Glynn Vivian Gallery celebrate the art, imagination and craft of His Dark Materials is an absolute honour.  I am certain visitors will be amazed and delighted by what our teams have created in Wolf Studios Wales.”

Council cabinet member Elliott King said: “I’m delighted that we can welcome this world-first exhibition to Swansea; it celebrates Wales as a truly creative nation. The city has a growing reputation for top-quality events and His Dark Materials: World Building in Wales will be another that shines the spotlight on us. It will gives local people a new opportunity to enjoy some quality free time at no cost.”

The free exhibition, created in partnership with Bad Wolf, IJPR Media and Screen Alliance Wales, and will run from the 1st of December 2022 to the 30th of April 2023 and the gallery will be working with Screen Alliance Wales to offer masterclasses and learning events to bring the exhibits to life.

Glynn Vivian at Night / Opening party will be held on the 1st of December 2022, 5.30pm – 8.30pm.

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