Writing in The Western Daily Press on Monday, 16 January. T Rowe reports on an exhibition now showing in the upstairs gallery at Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum until 14 April 2012.

Intense and brooding images of Stonehenge and other prehistoric monuments in a new exhibition are taking visitors deep into the heart of Thomas Hardy’s ‘Wessex’. Archaeologists debate the purpose of Stonehenge, but for Hardy it was a haunting symbol of isolation and suffering. The exhibition by three artists at Salisbury Museum mirrors the Dorset author’s emotional response to the archaeological sites he knew and used with such effect in his novels. His use of landscape was highly symbolic and deeply emotive. Nowhere is that more clear than in his description of Stonehenge, which features in the climactic scene of Tess of the d’Urbervilles. In the dead of night, Tess stumbles upon the monument, and lies down to rest on an ancient altar, giving the allusion of her character as a sacrificial offering to a society that has cast her out. Hardy describes the isolation of the monument on Salisbury Plain, and once inside, the feeling of enclosure.

Symbolism is central to Hardy’s writing, which may be why so many artists use his work as their inspiration. Artists Dave Gunning, David Inshaw and Rob Pountney have collaborated to show the dramatic landscapes and archaeology in media ranging from charcoal to steel etching and oil paint.

Full article here.