Katie Spragg, Ceramics at Blackwell

The Katie Spragg, Ceramics exhibition has opened at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House and will continue until 10 May 2018. In the video, Spragg introduces the exhibition and discusses how Blackwell has influenced her work.

Katie Spragg, Ceramics Exhibition at Blackwell from Lakeland Arts on Vimeo.

Recognised as one of the country’s finest up-and-coming talents, Royal College of Art graduate, Katie Spragg combines clay with a range of processes including animation, illustration and installation. Her works aim to evoke a sense of wonder about being outside in nature.

The exhibition of ceramics at Blackwell will showcase eight new responses to the Arts and Crafts house and the surrounding landscape, alongside six existing works previously displayed by the Craft Council COLLECT at the Saatchi Gallery, Miami Art Week and the British Ceramic Biennial Award show.

Spragg spent a week at Blackwell in November and was inspired to create new works based on her experience. She said, “In the mornings Blackwell feels very serene. The nooks and corners of the house lend themselves to daydreaming, particularly at this time of day. I became interested in how the landscape is framed through the windows of the house and also how nature is brought inside.”

Alongside this exhibition at Blackwell, two digital works by Spragg will also be on display at Abbot Hall Art Gallery until 28 April 2018.

Spragg’s works are in demand. A recent piece, Hedgerow, was purchased in spring 2017 by the world’s leading museum of art and design, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Whether through sharing a story or conjuring a collective memory, Spragg’s works highlight the forgotten sources of joy and amusement that surround us, and aim to arose curiosity.

Claude Monet exhibition at Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Cumbria

Two-minute-Monet: Facts about the founder of Impressionism

Oscar Claude Monet was born on 14 November 1890 in Paris, France. His mother was a singer, his father a grocer.

From an early age he had a love of drawing – and drew caricatures of his school teachers.

Monet went to Le Harve School of Arts in 1851 and sold caricatures to bring in extra money.

Monet married twice and had two children.

Following the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, Monet and his family fled to England. Inspired by the art of John Constable, Monet quickly began painting scenes of London including the Houses of Parliament and Hyde Park.

Monet first spotted the village of Giverny from the window of a train and then relocated to this rural haven outside Paris in 1883.

Claude Monet lived in the village of Giverny for 43 years. And it is here he painted his famous Haystacks series of works.

Monet’s painting Impression, Sunrise (1872) led to the naming of a whole movement we now know as Impressionism.

When Monet first moved to Giverny, the village’s population was around 300. Today it’s still at tiny place with some 500 in habitants. However, the village is swelled by tourists who flock to see Monet’s house and gardens which were made open to visitors in 1980.

There are some 2,500 paintings, drawings and pastels attributed to Monet.

He struggled with depression and poverty during his lifetime. He once attempted suicide.

In 1918 Monet donated 12 of his Water Lilies series of paintings to France to celebrate the Armistice.

Monet remains one of the most famous painters in history and his works can be seen in the most prestigious art galleries around the globe.

Monet died from lung cancer at the age of 86 on 5 December 1926. He is buried in the Giverny cemetery.

Monet’s Haystacks: Snow Effect (1891) is now on show at Abbot Hall, Kendal until 28 April 2018. It is on loan from National Galleries of Scotland.

Monet “would be delighted” his work is coming to Cumbria

Claude Monet, Haystacks: Snow Effect © National Galleries of Scotland

Claude Monet, Haystacks: Snow Effect © National Galleries of Scotland

It was viewed by a million art lovers at the Grand Palais in Paris – and now one of Monet’s most important paintings is coming to Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal. Haystacks: Snow Effect is from a series widely regarded as among the impressionist’s very best. It will go on show at Abbot Hall from Friday 12 January.

The work is loaned from National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, where it is usually on display. Dr Frances Fowle, Senior Curator of French Art at National Galleries of Scotland said: “The painting is one of the most popular in our collection. We get lots of requests to lend it out, but we are very selective. It will go to big monographic shows that focus purely on Monet such as 2010 at the Grand Palais in Paris which had nearly one million visitors.”

The painting has been exhibited in London and internationally but Frances feels it completely appropriate to now go on show in Kendal.

“It’s really apt that the painting is coming to a rural setting like Abbot Hall. I think Monet would be delighted. He was always keen that his work be seen by as many people as possible. It’s satisfying to see it being lent to a smaller community where it will be appreciated by people who may not get the opportunity to travel far to see it.”

The haystacks in this painting stood in a field to the west of Monet’s house in Giverney, France, where his famous water lily gardens were situated. In autumn and the relatively mild winter of 1890, Monet persuaded the local farmer to leave the stacks in his field so he could make a series of paintings. In Haystacks: Snow Effect, the haystacks are almost reduced to shadow in the glowing winter light. There are 25 paintings from Monet’s Haystacks series held at galleries around the globe including Tokyo, Los Angeles, Chicago and Paris.

Dr Fowle added: “The painting is very significant in the development of Monet’s work because it marks his movement from painting as a mainstream impressionist, to the idea of painting in series. The idea of working outdoors, then going back into the studio and re-working the painting so that it speaks to the other works in the series. It’s a pre-curser to the greatest works Monet ever produced.”

You can view Monet’s Haystacks: Snow Effect at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal from Friday 12 January until 28 April 2018.

A festive experience like no other at the most beautifully crafted house in the Lake District


As the festive season is upon us, Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House invites visitors to experience an Arts and Crafts Victorian Christmas. Throughout Autumn, Blackwell has featured an immensely popular and diverse exhibition highlighting the skills of the women artists and designers associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement. With one month left to go of this thought-provoking exhibition, visit this beautifully crafted house for a unique and inspiring festive experience.

Blackwell will be decorated, to complement the beauty and serenity of the house. With a Christmas tree inspired by the famous Peacock Frieze in the Main Hall, Christmas at Blackwell promises to be a festive experience like no other. There are Christmas events happening every day at this enchanting house, including decoration embroidery workshops, Curator led Victorian Christmas talks, choir performances, children’s Christmas trails and so much more. The Blackwell Tea Room also offers delicious, home cooked Christmas lunches.

With Christmas in mind, Blackwell presents a distinctive Contemporary Craft and Gift shop. There are various Christmas inspired gifts available to purchase and one-off, handcrafted items that can only be bought from Blackwell. These gifts include jewellery, textiles, handbags, and homeware.


After indulging in the delights of a Blackwell Christmas, the Women of the Arts & Crafts Movement exhibition offers a more tranquil experience, discovering beautiful objects with a remarkable history behind them. The exhibition recognises women artists whose contributions have often been overlooked, or wrongly attributed in favour of a more prominent male family member.

Proving to be a great success and one of Blackwell’s most popular temporary exhibitions, visitors have referred to the exhibition as a, “wonderful exhibition, beautifully curated,” with the pieces themselves described as “timeless and stand for themselves – they will still look as fresh in another 15 years.” One visitor commented, “Powerful exhibition, I feel more empowered to be a female artist and remember women’s struggles for recognition in the arts industry” perfectly summing up the motivation behind displaying this exhibition at Blackwell.

With loans from prominent public collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, National Museum of Scotland and The Hunterian, Glasgow, the exhibition showcases a broad range of disciplines from ceramics, jewellery and embroidery to metalwork, bookbinding and illustration. Artists featured include May Morris,  Mary Watts and Margaret Macdonald, as well as Ann Macbeth, Georgie Gaskin, Phoebe Anna Traquair, Jessie Marion King, and many others.


LAND | SEA | LIFE at Abbot Hall Art Gallery

On Friday 20 October, Abbot Hall Art Gallery‘s newest exhibition LAND | SEA | LIFE launched. All works on loan for this exhibition, curated by Abbot Hall are from The Ingram Collection, which is recognised as one of this Country’s most significant collections of Modern British Art. Jo Baring, Director of The Ingram Collection officially opened the exhibition at the Private View event the evening before and introduces the exhibition in the below video.

LAND | SEA | LIFE runs until Saturday 17 Feburary 2018. Abbot Hall Art Gallery is open Monday – Saturday from 10.30am – 4pm until March, 10.30am – 5pm March onwards. The Art Gallery is closed for winter maintenance 23 December 2017 – 11 January 2018. Entry for adults costs £7.70. ‘Friends’, Under 16s and students are free.

“I painted my plimsolls yellow” – Painting Pop’s Pile of Post-its

More than 1000 Post-it notes adorn the sixties living room at our Painting Pop exhibition at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, each containing a scribbled detail from a defining decade:

First car – Austin A35 – aged 17” – “On a bus in Hull Nov 1963 hearing Kennedy DEAD” – are just two memories left by visitors.

When we encouraged you to write memories on our 1960s timeline we didn’t expect such an enthusiastic response.
We had to buy a pile of Post-its for the outpouring of nostalgia. Some reactions are just a few words – others are short stories – crafted with creativity, humour and fun. It’s a wonder people can squeeze so many thoughts onto one tiny bit of paper.

One short story really caught our attention: “Saw The Beatles filming Magical Mystery Tour on Kent airfield where we were camping for our Duke of Edinburgh Award. George Harrison’s dark green Mini (with tinted windows) parked in a country lane. Headmistress worried about ‘effect’ of Beatlemania on her all-girls’ school!! I won Art Prize – presented by David Hockney at Camberwell School of Art in 1969.”

There are other flirtations with fame among the purple Post-it mountain: “Saw Richard Burton and Liz Taylor and lots of kids getting out of a taxi outside London Zoo.” “Went to Newcastle University – Richard Hamilton my lecturer!” Another: “The Hollies, Freddie and The Dreamers, Swinging Blue Jeans at St Bernadette’s Youth Club Didsbury!”

There’s marriage, romance and football on the brightly coloured jottings. Sometimes in the same post: “Married a football fan on World Cup Final day – he didn’t see any of the game. That’s devotion for you.” Another: “Met future husband in college in Blackpool and married in 1965. Still going strong! First house, 3 bed detached with good sized garden £2500.”

There’s particularly profound pondering: “I remember thinking – I may not get up tomorrow.” While another simply suggests: “Music is important.”

Items in our sixties room evoked memories for you: “My parents bought our first TV – like the one here but in a huge wooden cabinet that took ages to get going.” Whether it be a TV that ‘takes ages to get going’, “Burnley winning the league in 1960″ or “I painted my plimsolls yellow” the Post-it wall has to be seen to be believed.

Come visit and share your thoughts. But be quick – Painting Pop – Paintings from 1960s Britain – will close on Saturday 7 October.

Painting Pop, Hockney and Nick Rhodes’ Polaroids: Through the Curator’s Eyes

By Charu Vallabhbhai, Curatorial Manager at Lakeland Arts

Pauline Boty, Colour Her Gone, oil on canvas, 1962. Courtesy of Wolverhampton Arts and Museums © the artist’s estate.

This summer at Abbot Hall Art Gallery our exhibitions are Painting Pop, including David Hockney’s works on canvas and a room of his etching and aquatint prints, A Rake’s Progress, celebrating Hockney’s works of the 1960s in the year of his 80th birthday. Charu Vallabhbhai, Lakeland Arts’ Curatorial Manager reminisces on her childhood in Bradford and hearing David Hockney speak when she was an art student there.

The Start of the Spending Spree and the Door Opening for a Blonde from A Rake’s Progress, 1961 – 1963, David Hockney (detail), Etching aquatint, Edition of 50, 18 x 23″, © and courtesy David Hockney

As a young girl growing up in Bradford in the 1970s and 80s with two older sisters that had first say on what channel to set our black and white TV to, I found myself getting lost in painting and drawing. My dad bought me a tray of paints, crayons and felt tip pens, unable to resist my begging for the vibrantly rainbow coloured sets. At this time, my passion for creating in colour began, and later I would discover painters such as Dali and Constable in the books available in the city’s wonderful multi-storey library (now an empty, unused building next to the National Media Museum). I also took my art foundation at Bradford Art College, where David Hockney had been a student in the mid 1950s. I attended evening life drawing classes that one of Hockney’s tutor’s also came to, and I even met Hockney that year when he gave a talk about his photomontages – at what was then known as the National Museum of Film and Photography. Throughout these years in Bradford, before leaving west Yorkshire to take my degree in Fine Art, I would draw and paint and listen to the radio. Pop music was my obsession and the soundtrack to many of my memories of growing up. As I approached my teenage years I would borrow or buy ‘Smash Hits’ magazine. From 1993-97 I loved Neil Tennant and subsequent editors’ sense of humour, and still chuckle now at some of the nick-names given to the pop stars of the day.

I have a vivid memory of Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran’s polaroid photography, and also David Sylvian’s at the time. I had always assumed that this was out of a combination of their awareness of how both Warhol and Hockney had used polaroid, and developed it from an instant-photo to an art object. It’s great now in the year of David Hockney’s 80th birthday to hear what Nick Rhodes has to say about the importance of Hockney’s polaroid photography:

‘I think the Hockney Polaroids are significant works, he has always been interested in different mediums as an artist and this venture turned out to be particularly inspired. A lot of different artists were working with Polaroids during the late Seventies and early Eighties notably Warhol who created many of his portraits from Polaroids. I like the Lucas Samaras works too. They are all used distinct methods, the Hockney montage technique was a really focused and effective idea, which has since been imitated by many others.’

Nick Rhodes is a founding member of Duran Duran, performing on keyboards. He is also a photographer and has keen interest in 20th century art, visiting exhibitions around the world during his travels.