The Robinson Institute is an exhibition that considers the origins of the current economic crisis. Throughout The Robinson Institute, images of landmarks and locations in the English landscape are employed to illustrate the development of capitalism.
A fictional, unseen scholar – Robinson – undertakes exploratory journeys around England. Robinson’s chance encounters with various locations. The site of an 1830 meteorite fall and nearby scenes of local rebellion, prompt him to reflect on the significance of each to greater global themes.
The Robinson Institute’s researchers have revisited Robinson’s last known journey, presenting his findings and film footage as an exhibition that features works by artists, mainly from Tate’s Collection; writers, historians, geographers, cartographers and geologists; and a variety of other objects.
Audiences are invited to retrace Robinson’s steps and consider the connections that he makes. For example, the 1795 amendment to the Settlement Act, which enabled the rural poor to migrate more easily to industrial towns and cities, is shown alongside an unusually large meteorite that fell the same year. Robinson’s discovery of the Boyle-Hooke commemoration plaque on Oxford’s High Street, which celebrates two of England’s most important scientists, triggers further consideration of the historical events that led to the Industrial Revolution.
There are more than 120 works on display in The Robinson Institute from historical paintings, prints and drawings, works of film and literature as well as photographs that include Northumbrian rock art, a close up of lichen on an Oxford road sign in the direction of Newbury and a Ministry of Defence sign banning photography of the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston.