Until 4 June 2017 Giles Walker’s installation The Last Supper will be on display in Media Space at the Science Museum as a complement to our Robots exhibition. We take a look at the story behind this immersive piece of art.
The Last Supper forms a rich, sculptural counter-point to our latest blockbuster exhibition Robots. Robots examines the 500 year-long human quest to render ourselves in mechanical form and in this vein the The Last Supper looks at the darker side of human characteristics.
Part of our range of events and activities surrounding Robots, The Last Supper explores man’s desire to re-create himself as an automaton in its darkest, most subversive form: ‘Robots are a mirror for society, reflecting how the wider world which we humans create has changed over the centuries. The Last Supper represents the darker side of robots and, by extension, us humans. It touches on issues of life and death, religious belief or disbelief and morality.’ – Ben Russell, lead curator of the ‘Robots’ exhibition.
Artist and sculptor Giles Walker created the artwork in 2011 after the death of his mother and the piece draws inspiration from questions around the meaning of religion and mortality. Twelve seated figures are arranged around a table in a mirroring of Leonardo Da Vinci’s iconic painting The Last Supper. As the installation commences the effect is one of a sinister crew aboard a ship. The figures’ conversations vary from musings on life and death to recordings of the last meals ordered by inmates on death row – which provide an oddly touching element to the piece, memorable in their strange banality.
Known for creating art from recycled materials Walker has combined an interest in re-purposing objects with kinetic technology for this unique installation. The Last Supper uses an immersive mix of animatronics and audio effects to create a world within the gallery space. By combining theological questions about the nature of good and evil with semi-human animatronic figures Walker has created an unsettling, evocative piece that will stay with you long after it ends.