“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.

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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.

Painting Pop’s Playlist – the songs that swung 1962

Abbot Hall’s Painting Pop exhibition celebrates British Pop Art in the period around 1962 – a year known for great painters and great performers.

Whether music fed art, or art fed the music, is still up for debate.

The era of swinging London, of clubs, of freedom, fun and creativity was certainly an inspiration for many of the artists in our exhibition.

Painting Pop presents works by leading artists in British Pop Art who made a significant contribution to the development of twentieth century and contemporary art practice.

Away from the gallery walls, and into the dance halls, the artists making the headlines included The Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Patsy Cline and the Beatles.

Amazingly the four lads from Liverpool were rejected by record company Decca at the turn of 1962. Fortunes would change stratospherically for Paul, John, George and Pete Best when Brian Epstein was appointed their manager a few weeks later. That summer Best was fired and Ringo Starr joined the ranks.

The year also saw the debut long player from American Bob Dylan, while back in breezy London The Rolling Stones were getting it together.

Musically everything seemed to come together in 1962 on both sides of the Atlantic. From South Liverpool to Southern California music was swinging and surfing.

In celebration of the brush strokes of paint and the strumming of guitars, we’ve compiled ten of our favourite records from 1962.

The collection sways and swoons to the sounds of Elvis, The Beach Boys, The Isley Brothers, Bobby Vinton and more.

Listen to our Painting Pop playlist on Spotify.

It’s a collaborative list – so feel free to add your favourites.

David Hockney at 80

The Getty Museum stages a special exhibition in tribute, while a brewery in Bradford has named a foaming ale after him.

Legendary artist David Hockney turns 80 on Sunday 9 July and from rainy West Yorkshire to sun-baked Los Angeles, it seems the world is ready to celebrate.

David Hockney remains one of the most influential British artists of the 20th Century. An icon of art, famous for acrylics of Californian swimming pools, photo collages, pencil portraits, and Pop Art rule-breaking, his career spans six decades.

This week, in Hockney’s birthplace of Bradford, Cartwright Hall opens a gallery in honour of their famous son. A disco is planned, while a giant number 80 will hang from the building.

In California, the Getty opens an exhibition of the artist’s self portraits.

Here in Kendal, visitors to Abbot Hall Art Gallery can get a double dose of Hockney. From Friday 14 July visitors can see David Hockney A Rake’s Progress – a 16-print series of etchings by the artist in response to his first visit to New York in 1961.

As well as these wonderful etchings, two works from Hockney feature in our new summer exhibition. Painting Pop – Paintings from 1960s Britain opens on 14 July. The exhibition celebrates Pop Art created on home shores. It includes work by Sir Peter Blake, Pauline Boty, Patrick Caulfield, Allen Jones and, of course, David Hockney.

Visitors can see his two works: Egyptian Head Disappearing into Descending Clouds 1961 (on loan from York Museums Trust) and The Berliner and the Bavarian 1962 (on loan from Tate Collection).

Painting Pop’s “Wimbledon Bardot”

One of the first artworks visitors will see when entering Abbot Hall Art Gallery’s Painting Pop exhibition is by a significant, yet relatively unknown artist.

Pauline Boty’s Colour Her Gone depicts screen-icon Marilyn Monroe with bright flowers and abstract shapes. The painting, in oil on canvas, was created in 1962 and is on loan to Abbot Hall by Wolverhampton Arts and Museums.

Boty was a founder of Britain’s Pop Art movement alongside more celebrated artists, such as David Hockney and Peter Blake. She was a student at the prestigious Royal College of Art and became a central figure in swinging sixties London. Boty’s striking paintings express self-assured femininity, addressing themes of female sexuality, race and politics. Critics deemed her work both vibrant and rebellious.

As a young graduate from art college, Boty was profiled in Ken Russell’s 1962 documentary ‘Pop Goes the Easel’ alongside Peter Blake, Derek Boshier and Peter Phillips whose paintings are also presented in Painting Pop. The film was broadcast as part of the BBC’s Monitor arts strand, focussing on the artwork and the lives of four hip artists in London.

Tragically Pauline Boty was diagnosed with cancer and she passed away 51 years ago this week, aged just 28 (1 July 1966). It wasn’t until the 1990s that Boty’s work was rediscovered and brought to a new audience. The Tate collection purchased a painting by her in 1991 and Wolverhampton Art Gallery held a major retrospective exhibition of her work in 2013.

The Scottish author and playwright Ali Smith researched the work and life of Boty for her novel Autumn, in which a central character is a collector of her artworks. Writing in the Guardian last year, Smith enthused: “…over and above all this whirlwind energy – over and above the short life, the too-early death, the legends, the rumours, the vibrant and groundbreaking brand new 60s spirit which she didn’t just embody but seems literally to have helped create, Boty was – is, always will be – the first and only British Pop artist who happened to be a woman.”

Opening on Friday 14 July, Painting Pop is Abbot Hall’s must-see summer exhibition celebrating British Pop Art from the early 1960s, including work by Pauline Boty, Peter Blake, Patrick Caulfield, Richard Hamilton, David Hockney and Allen Jones.

Why We’re Having ‘Fun on the Fells’

By Rachel Roberts, Assistant Curator, Collections and Access

The Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry presents our new exhibition, Fun on the Fells, 11 March – 28 October.

The exhibition examines the history of walking and climbing in the Lake District and researching and writing it gave me a whole new perspective on these popular pastimes.

Every year, millions of people go walking and climbing on the fells of the Lake District. They might be thinking about whether they have brought the right map, whether they are supposed to go left or right, or even where the nearest pub is, but they don’t have to worry about their right to use the footpaths of Lakeland. However this hasn’t always been the case.

Since the enclosures acts of the 1700s, Cumbria was separated out into large farms with strict boundaries. Crossing these boundaries could result in clashes with the landowner. Throughout the 1800s, as more people lived in overcrowded and unhealthy cities, the countryside became seen as a place to escape the smog and take healthy exercise. Bills were introduced to parliament to gain access to footpaths and mountains for everyone but none were successful. By the 1930s more than 50% of the land in the UK was privately owned and off limits to most walkers and climbers.

Between the wars, the campaign for access to the countryside intensified with high-profile protests, for example the mass trespass at Kinder Scout in 1932. Finally, in 1951 the Peak District became the first National Park in the UK, with the Lake District being designated just 3 weeks later. National Parks continue to give access to footpaths and access land to all visitors, they now account for 10% of the land in the UK across 15 parks.

Today, when we walk in the Lakes we are following a much more turbulent path than we might think.

Visit the Fun on the Fells exhibition at the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry, 11 March – 28 October 2017.