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Expanded Interiors Restaged

Three years after it was first displayed among the ancient ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii, Expanded Interiors is being reimagined in a remarkable new multimedia exhibition at the Hatton Gallery.

7 July 2021

Seen by more than 600k visitors in 2018/19, the show’s original contemporary art installations, focused on two Roman houses: the House of the Beautiful Courtyard at Herculaneum and the House of the Cryptoporticus in Pompeii. These houses literally formed the backdrops for a fresh dialogue between contemporary art, Roman wall painting and archaeological remains.

Catrin Huber, a visual artist and Professor in Fine Art at Newcastle University, will re-stage her striking geometric artworks. She will also introduce new pieces in physical and digital formats, setting the installations in a fresh conversation with the architecture of the Hatton Gallery, and incorporating an incredible real-time 3D environment that will enable visitors to virtually ‘walk around’ ancient houses in Herculaneum and Pompeii. The exhibition will also include a brand-new commission by fellow Newcastle-based artist, Rosie Morris.

The large-scale installations incorporate replica 3D-printed Roman artefacts that are integrated and re-assembled within the contemporary setting. Artefacts recreated include statues of Roman women, face cups and oil lamps. As with Roman wall paintings, the exhibition conjures up a balance between real and imagined space, inside and outside space, and the past and present, creating a dramatic succession of rooms that contrast and link with each other.


For the original project, Huber assembled a team of archaeology, digital technology and contemporary art experts from Newcastle University. This was in order to explore the relevance of Roman wall painting and artefacts for today’s fine art practice, and also to test how artists can respond to the histories and complex natures of these archaeological sites within a contemporary context. The result was an arresting and unique experience. “Both Herculaneum and Pompeii are of course incredibly popular with tourists”, says Huber. “The hope was that our project was a stimulating and thought-provoking experience for visitors, helping them to look at these remarkable World Heritage sites from a new perspective.”

Art and history lovers in the North East will now be able to explore these themes in a city and region that boasts a wealth of Roman sites, from Hadrian’s Wall and Roman forts such as Vindolanda, Arbeia South Shields Roman Fort and Segedunum Roman Fort, to aspects of Newcastle itself.

Reconnecting Newcastle and ancient Rome via a time just before Vesuvius destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79AD, Expanded Interiors includes an interactive 3D digital artwork that virtually recreates Huber’s three installations, originally presented within the Roman houses in Herculaneum and Pompeii. The 3D digital artwork features several audio pieces, one of which is a fictional dialogue between a female Roman wall painter and Huber.

Rosie Morris’ atmospheric new commission for Expanded Interiors Re-Staged brings a theatricality to the experience of crossing spatial thresholds. She has playfully reimagined a small, dimly lit space, with domestic-scale illusions of incisions and openings. Borrowing from the principles of Roman Wall painting, Morris’ installation negotiates an exchange between the viewer, the artist, and real and imagined space, as well as multiple visual languages including colour, painting, drawing, photography, light, filmic projection and dioramas.

Catrin Huber says: “The re-staging of the installations from Herculaneum and Pompeii in the context of the Hatton Gallery’s distinctive architecture, will be complimented by new work in a variety of media. Collectively they’ll play with notions of open and closed walls, perspective, and the folding of space. These different aspects will guide visitors through the exhibition in different ways. The use of colour, light, and shadows is also crucial to the overall experience, creating and disrupting immersive environments and setting up dramatic contrasts.”

Expanded Interiors Restaged runs from 3 July to 10 August. Tickets must be pre-booked

Press release adapted with thanks to Brera PR



Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences