Channeling the Essence of Peanuts

A recent trip to London gave me an opportunity to revisit Good Grief, Charlie Brown! at my own pace, rather than racing through showing it to others (see my previous blog post). The exhibition has received numerous positive reviews and has been well-received by visitors. This was especially evident as I wandered through the interactive area during my visit.

This just in: Woodstock tweets from Somerset House, London—it’s all about Brexit.

The message above was captured in Marcus Coates’s interactive installation, Who Knows?.  I refer to the area as “End Game” because at the end of the Somerset exhibition, it invites visitors to draw their own Peanuts panel, to add to Snoopy’s infamous opening line “It was a dark and stormy night,” or to ponder their own life questions, and display them in the exhibition.

Marcus Coates, Who Knows?, 2018. Installation view from Good Grief, Charlie Brown, Somerset House. Courtesy of SHT. Image by Tim Bowditch.

Visitors writing and drawing their own Peanuts stories and panels in Good Grief, Charlie Brown, Somerset House. Courtesy of SHT. Image by Tim Bowditch.

“A Story in 4 panels” interactive in Good Grief, Charlie Brown, Somerset House. Courtesy of SHT. Image by Tim Bowditch.

Marcus Coates, Who Knows?, 2018. Installation view from Good Grief, Charlie Brown, Somerset House.

Visitors can use the light tables to trace Peanuts characters or add their own to their panels or stories. I was excited to see the light table crowded with visitors, all working intently.

Visitors at light table in Good Grief, Charlie Brown, Somerset House.

They can also come up with their own “It was a dark and stormy night” stories and display them in the various typewriters on the wall.

Here is one visitor’s story that I particularly enjoyed:

“It was a dark and stormy night. It was raining so hard, and thundering so loud, one could not hear oneself think. But thinking was overated [sic] anyway. So the next best thing to do on a night like this was to hide under the covers and pretend not to be afraid. Until the rattling noises coming from outside the window made it impossible to pretend anymore. Then it was the time to jump out of bed and start running and screaming all the way to mom and dad’s bed! Safe at last!”

I was so impressed with the visitors’ drawings and questions, I thought I would share a few with you:

This was the first one that really caught my eye: “Why have I only just discovered the wonders of peanuts today? Why did I think it was just for children?”

Another visitor question: “Why are there no ‘cats’ in Peanuts, are they to [sic] scary for Snoopy?”

“Why are so many people fearful of dirt?”

“How do I explain this to the children?”

“Why is love like the rain? You need it for survival, yet you have to shelter yourself from it sometimes? *Sigh*”

A perfect Sparky sentiment: “For Mum. Why do we have to say good bye to those we love before we are ready? X”

Profound thoughts from a tennis pal enjoying the exhibition: “In life, does it matter if the ball was in or out…as long as you hit it? Happiness is having someone to play tennis with ❤️.”

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Isn’t it amazing how closely these writers have channeled the essence of Peanuts?

Good Grief, Charlie Brown is on view at Somerset House in London now through March 3, 2019.

—Jean Schulz

 

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