Since the early 1970s, Peter Greenaway’s work has challenged boundaries and conventions of filmmaking. Greenaway is fascinated by numbers, games and the splitting and doubling up of characters, as well as mixing text, sound and the moving image. Greenaway trained as an artist and his project also extend to theatre and opera including Writing to Vermeer (1999) for the Musiektheatre, Amsterdam as well as numerous exhibitions including Flying Out of This World for the Louvre, Paris.
Luper at Compton Verney revisits the setting of Greenaway’s 1982 film The Draughtsman’s Contract, a baroque thriller played out against the backdrop of a country house. The character of Tulse Luper, however, first appeared in two of Greenaway’s early films from the late 1970s, A Walk Through H: The Reincarnation of an Ornithologist and Vertical Features Remake. We first encounter Luper in these films as an English writer-naturalist with an interest in maps, lists and classification systems.
The exhibition at Compton Verney explored these interests and documents the life of the elusive Luper. It wove an intriguing story which linked objects, lists and events into a narrative, bringing the collections and building at Compton Verney to life. At the heart of the exhibition was a collection of 92 suitcases that Luper had supposedly abandoned on his travels. The contents provided clues to his existence, his obsessions, the people he has met and the places he has visited.