There’s something spooky going on at the View From The Top gallery this Halloween weekend. Having climbed four flights of stairs, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled upon some kind of sinister bookseller’s torture chamber tucked away in a forgotten attic above Waterstones. But no, this is Danse Macabre, an unsettling but strangely fascinating exhibition exploring the gothic subculture.

The founders of this ghoulish event profess to a love of ‘freak shows… Tim Burton… The Addams Family’, oh, and ‘Death’. These influences certainly pervade the works on show. Nineteen artists, many local, some as far flung as New York, are showcased in this fright fest. This is clearly a massive event for Nottingham’s Goth scene, with sponsorship from quintessential alt hangout Pit and Pendulum.

The background music during my visit ranged from hauntingly ethereal choral, to gritty heavy metal. This mirrored the diversity of the art on show, from the slightly spooky, to the downright disturbed. Featuring works entitled ‘Tortured Soul’, ‘Self Portrait in Regret’ and, my personal favourite, ‘Bring me my Footstool’, it is clear these artists are out to shock.

There is a wide range of media employed, from Nottingham artist and Danse Macabre cofounder Paul Bowring’s paintings of dark figures (acrylic on canvas, with palette knife); to Sue Burns’ horse sculptures (wire armature, paper clay, volcanic glaze, Perspex rod, natural rock). Blimey.

You don’t even have to sell your soul to the devil to afford your own piece of Goth art. In this tumultuous financial climate a limited edition Geoff Sims pen and ink print at just £12 could be a good investment. Then again, the subject matter might have you crying out, ‘Bring me my Footstool’.

This is the sort of art you will love or hate, but it’s worth a look if only to get into the Halloween spirit. You never know, it might unleash your dark side.

Danse Macabre is on until 3rd November at View From the Top gallery, above Waterstones.

Isabel Roth

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