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Lakeland Arts’ exhibitions for 2019

Turner, Ruskin, Scottish Colourists, The Art of Belonging and more
John Ruskin, View from my Window at Mornex, 1862 © Lakeland Arts Trust

Lakeland Arts has revealed key highlights from its exciting 2019 programme of exhibitions.

Helen Watson, Lakeland Arts’ Director of Programming, said: “Lakeland Arts has a fabulous and fascinating year ahead. We will be showing off great works from our own collections as well as major loans from across the UK.

“We will be exhibiting more than 450 years of art history as well as contemporary work from artists of today.”

Main summer exhibition:

The main summer show at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, is Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud (12 July – 5 October 2019).

The exhibition will include more than 100 works and stretch across five rooms. It is one of the biggest exhibitions in the UK during the 200th anniversary of John Ruskin’s birth.

Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud will be the first in-depth examination of the relationship between both men, their work, and the impact Ruskin had in highlighting climate change.

In addition to Ruskin’s paintings and writings, the exhibition will feature an introductory film along with a new publication incorporating fresh research on Ruskin and Turner’s work.

Abbot Hall is partnering with York Art Gallery and University of York on Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud. Works from both partners go on show alongside substantial loans from national and regional collections.

Ruskin (1819-1900) was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, as well as an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, prominent social thinker and philanthropist.

JMW Turner (1775-1881) was a landscape painter, traveller, poet and teacher. Many people consider him the first modern painter. Ruskin said of Turner he was ‘the greatest of the age’ and was a lifelong supporter.

The exhibition will feature watercolours, drawings and a haunting portrait of Ruskin from the National Portrait Gallery, made in the aftermath of his first serious mental illness.

In 1884 Ruskin wrote about an encroaching “Storm Cloud” – a darkening of the skies that he attributed to the belching chimneys of the modern world. The imagery also allowed him to articulate his ongoing mental struggles.

Bringing together Victorian and contemporary works of art, the exhibition will demonstrate the unsettling messages underpinning Ruskin’s eye for beauty in the natural world.

Ruskin’s anxiety about darkening skies and polluted storm clouds is contrasted with his early interest in Turner’s luminous pictures.

The exhibition contains a substantial display of Turner’s watercolours, demonstrating his evolving style, and his creation of highly-finished sample studies of British and alpine landscapes.

Lakeland Arts’ The Passage of Mount St Gothard (1804) by Turner will be a key painting on show.

Cultural organisations in Cumbria including Ruskin Museum and Brantwood in Coniston will also be marking the anniversary of Ruskin’s birth with a series of exhibitions and events in 2019, making the county the place to visit for everything Ruskin related.

The Ruskin Museum holds the most comprehensive display in the Lake District about the life and work of John Ruskin. Brantwood is Ruskin’s former home where he spent the last 28 years of his life.

Helen Watson said: “Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud will be one of our biggest shows ever. If you have an interest in Ruskin and Turner this is a must-see exhibition.

“Next year is hugely significant in celebrating Ruskin and we are delighted to have this landmark exhibition at Abbot Hall during the 200th anniversary of his birth. It’s particularly apt that the exhibition takes place in Cumbria – the home of Ruskin and the place he found most inspiration.”

In showing Ruskin’s and Turner’s influence today among contemporary artists, the exhibition will also display a series of large monochrome drawings by Emma Stibbon.

In June 2018, Royal Academician Stibbon retraced the steps of Turner and Ruskin visiting the Alps. She took the route made by Ruskin in June 1854 when he produced a series of daguerreotypes (early photographs) of Alpine scenery, to see what remains of the glaciers today.

Her work shows how geography has been impacted by climate change over the last two centuries.

Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud will also be shown at York Art Gallery from March 29 to June 23 2019.

The exhibition book, bringing together a collection of new essays by artists, climate change scientists, art historians and curators, will be published in March 2019.

More Lakeland Arts’ exhibitions during 2019:

Refuge, The Art of Belonging (15 February – 29 June 2019, Abbot Hall) tells the story of artists who entered Britain as a result of Nazi occupation alongside a community project exploring the lives of refugees living in Cumbria.

The exhibition examines displacement within artists’ work and the adoption of new landscapes.

The show features works from Lakeland Arts’ Collection including Hilde Goldschmidt, Hans Coper, Lucie Rie, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach and Kurt Schwitters.

Schwitters (1887-1948) the first multi-media artist, settled in Ambleside, Cumbria, after coming to Britain as a refugee.

Anne, Countess of Pembroke (Lady Anne Clifford) (22 March – 22 June 2019, Abbot Hall) sees an unsung campaigner return home.

Abbot Hall takes part in the National Portrait Gallery’s Coming Home project which is loaning portraits of iconic individuals to places across the country that they are most closely associated with.

This means Abbot Hall is able to show off the finest portrait of Lady Anne Clifford, which is in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection.

Lady Anne Clifford (1590-1676) spent much of her life in a long and complex legal battle to obtain the rights of her inheritance. This portrait of her, by William Larkin, (c1618), is an excellent example of those commissioned by members of the Court of Charles I.

Her fascinating fight is known through her diaries and the magnificent The Great Picture, painted in 1646 and on permanent show at Abbot Hall.

The Lady Anne Clifford portrait, on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, will be hung alongside the portrait of her mother, Lady Margaret Russell, Countess of Cumberland, which was also painted by William Larkin.

Anne’s mother was the only person who supported her campaign. The arrival of this important portrait sees mother and daughter reunited in Cumbria.

Helen Watson said: “We are delighted be taking part in the National Portrait Gallery’s Coming Home initiative. We will be bringing Lady Anne Clifford home and uniting her with her mother, who campaigned for her daughter’s right to inheritance until her death. Lakeland Arts will tell the story of Anne’s fight.”

Colour and Light: The Art and Influence of the Scottish Colourists (18 October 2019 – January 2020, Abbot Hall).

This show presents the work and influences of the Scottish Colourists, centred on masterworks from the renowned Fleming Collection which is the finest collection of Scottish art outside public museums and institutions.

A selection of works from Lakeland Arts’ collection will explore the influence of the Scottish Colourists on artists such as Anne Redpath, William George Gillies and Joan Eardley.

The Colourist paintings by S.J.Peploe, J.D. Fergusson, Leslie Hunter, and F.C.B. Cadell, have been at the heart of the Fleming Collection since its inception.

One of its first purchases in 1968 was Hunter’s masterpiece Peonies in a Chinese Vase, which along with other key works such as Peploe’s Luxembourg Gardens, Fergusson’s Blue Nude and Cadell’s The Feathered Hat, reveal the quartet’s remarkable trajectory as artists.

The exhibition at Abbott Hall reinforces the Colourists’ status as four of the most talented, innovative and distinctive artists in twentieth century British art.

New Year New Maker: The Rusland Movement at Blackwell (18 Jan – 9 June 2019) looks at the Rusland Movement’s beautiful furnishings inspired by nature.

The Rusland Movement is a group of dedicated craftsmen and designers, all of whom are based in Cumbria. They invest their heart and soul in all that they create, designing and making beautifully elegant, commissioned pieces of furniture, destined to become heirlooms.

Greater detail on Lakeland Arts exhibitions, events across all its venues will be announced in due course.

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