Terry Pratchett is dead.
Not only do I find that heart wrenching to type, it is also incredibly hard for me to contemplate . . . which it really should not be because death is a major part of the human condition.
Celebrities really do not feature in my life at all. It’s sad when anyone dies, but I’ve never mourned the death of someone who was not a family member. I did not know him, he did not know me, we never met or talked (although it may have happened somewhere at some time because of quantum . . . maybe read a bit of Pratchett and you’ll understand). However, this is a man who had a massive impact on my life and the lives of many others because he create a world which, by reading, you could become a part of. The more you read the more the world grows.
‘His World’ is a temporary exhibition at Salisbury Museum that explores the work of Terry Pratchett, how his writing started, the art and characters created both in and for his books and his death.
I was not expecting much of the interpretation to be written by Terry (on account of the whole death thing). But I read the first line of the introduction panel and found that I couldn’t really see the rest of it because my eyes had started to swim with tears, because these were Terry’s words and he was welcoming me to the exhibition just like I’d been welcomed to the Discworld when I was about 10. Having an exhibition about Terry’s writing with many thoughts and explanations by the man himself, was not only incredibly moving, but it really does show that his words live on. They will echo for an eternity.
I have never struggled to read an interpretation panel before in my life, until I had to read about Terry’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in his own words. Even the presentation of this text was incredibly well thought out, with parts of the words faded out as if forgotten mid-sentence.
The items on display were an excellent selection of artwork by the illustrators of his books, Paul Kidby, Josh Kirby and items by Terry himself. His office space has been recreated with his 6 computer screens, all of which have different things going on. One of them will be typing out a novel, another is looking up information online a third is gaming. The desk is full of bits and bobs, including a mug that says ‘CRIVENS’. Much like Terry’s Discworld, the more you look the more you see.
I’d never really appreciated the art of a book cover until I saw Josh Kirby’s Reaper Man not on a book and Paul Kidby’s Night Watch without a title incorporated over the top of it.
There were opportunities to write letters, on a type writer or at a desk on Ank-Morpork Post Office headed paper. You were invited to post these in an Ank-Morpork post box, which loudly thanked you for your post. Not only were these simple and effective ways to interact with the exhibition, a volunteer informed me that these letters were going to be bound together to present to the family as a thank you.
There was the opportunity to dress up, to try on Rincewinds WIZZZARD hat or Moist von Lipwig’s golden suit. The greatest thing about this dress up was that it wasn’t just aimed at children, because let’s face it, adults like a go too.
This is a brilliantly executed small temporary exhibition and I think the factor that makes it so successful is that it will resonate with so many people. It’s not all singing all dancing, it’s simple but effective. Would I think differently if I wasn’t a Terry Pratchett fan? I don’t think so – I say this because I chatted with some of the volunteers who had never really read Terry Pratchett books and didn’t really like fantasy. They were still incredibly proud of the exhibition layout and presentation of the space.
And of course there was only one way to end such an exhibition . . . Mind how you go.
‘His World’ is a temporary exhibition at Salisbury Museum 16 September – 13 January 2018