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.

3. The Start of the Spending Spree and the Door Opening for a Blonde 1961-3 David Hockney born 1937 Purchased 1971 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P07033

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 life evening drawing classes that one of Hockney’s tutor’s also came to, and I even met him that year when 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 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 has 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.

In the Moment ‘on the Lake’

In the Moment summer projects get better and better! This year, an August day out on Windermere, inspired by the lovely old boat ‘Branksome’ being restored ahead of the new Windermere Jetty opening in 2017.

‘In the Moment’ is part of Lakeland Arts’ Enriched by Moments programme of creative activity for people living with dementia and their carers. The group meets weekly in Kendal, drawing inspiration from Lakeland Arts sites, collections, exhibitions and displays, as well as local festivals and events. The sessions are a joyful blend of art and poetry, and have been described as ‘respite without separation’ – pleasurable and stimulating for everyone involved, and proven to support people to live well with dementia. Somehow, the process of immersion in experiences, the flow that happens during creative engagement has a transformative and beneficial effect that seems to extend beyond the sessions, for everyone involved.

In the lead up to the summer project, costumes from the Handling Collection and a photograph of Edna Haworth who lived at Langdale Chase and commissioned the building of ‘Branksome’ in 1896 were our starting points. Together, they provided ideas for us to create a really special day out and bring ‘Branksome’ to life in a completely new way. We shaped the day to include a visit to the Jetty conservation shed, experience an hour on the lake, disembark at Langdale Chase where we would see the boathouse built specially for ‘Branksome’ and then have afternoon tea close to the terrace overlooking the lake where Edna is standing for her photograph.

IMG_4700 IMG_5473

It has been wonderful subject matter to be immersed in, enabling a relaxed and playful connection with the late Victorian era. The group created their own accessories, including appliqued capes, cuffs, choker necklaces, boater hats and false moustaches!

IMG_4886 IMG_4906 IMG_4935 IMG_4967 IMG_4948

Everyone enjoyed role playing their way into their costumes!

IMG_5061 IMG_4997 IMG_4992 IMG_5048

The group also spent time thinking about the boat, making drawings and maps and two members of the group partipated in stitching the outline of Branksome onto white fabric.

IMG_5018 IMG_5022

The visit to look at Branksome being restored was illuminating. Stephen, the Senior Boat Conservator, explained the process of finding just the right shaped piece of oak, known as grown crook of oak, to replace the original stem. This way of growing oak gives the wood the curvature in the grain which will follow the line of the stem. A brand new figurehead, inspired by some of the intricate carvings at Langdale Chase, illustrated how the boat is being restored to its former glory. Stephen also told us that an oak tree felled to make room for the development of the new museum is being used to create the steam bent timbers lining the interior of the boat.

IMG_5264 IMG_4479 IMG_5259 (2)

We left the Jetty Conservation Shed, amazed by the craftmanship and care that the conservation team are employing, and made our way to Waterhead for our picnic as we waited for our boat to arrive. We made a happy gathering, wearing our hats which were very welcome in the bright sunshine.

picnic (3) IMG_5287

We boarded The Princess of the Lake, our very own wooden launch for an hour! It was glorious to be on the lake, everyone so thrilled, the beautiful weather, landscape, sense of friendship and shared experience.

IMG_5302 IMG_5238 IMG_5310 annette a

As the boat pulled into the Langdale Chase jetty, we got our first view of the boathouse which was the original home of ‘Branksome’ and Bernice and John waiting to welcome us.

IMG_5345 bernice

Safely off the boat, we unfolded the stitched drawing of the boat and floated it into the water by the boathouse – a symbolic returning of ‘Branksome’ to it’s original home.

IMG_5275

Up on Edna’s terrace at what is now the Langdale Chase Hotel, we held up ‘Branksome’ to dry, creating another connection between the boat, the lake, its original owner and original home.

IMG_5318

The afternoon ended with afternoon tea and poetry readings. We’ve had two more ‘In the Moments’ since our wonderful day out and each time we’ve projected images of the day directly onto the studio wall which has had the effect of bringing that moment on the lake directly into the room again. Members of the group have created personal dioramas that create a visual sense of their moments on the lake, as well as prints and a large inked landscape of the lake.

IMG_5459 IMG_5336

IMG_5434

Get involved: our next big project with ‘In the Moment’ is the Creative Age Challenge in late October during the weekend of the Kendal Wool Gathering when knitters and crafters are Yarn Bombing the museum. We are working in schools and with community groups in Kendal to create a Hand Made Herd – a flock of small scale sheep that will fill the oval in the front of Abbot Hall Art Gallery. During the weekend of the gathering, sheep will be on display and then auctioned at 3pm on Sunday 30 October to raise funds to support the Enriched by Moments programme. Invite us to run a sheep making workshop in your workplace, school, community centre. Come to MOLLI’s Woolly Workshops during half term. Volunteer!

For more information about the Enriched by Moments programme check out the website at http://www.lakelandarts.org.uk/learning

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Summer of Rag Rugging

***UPDATE: The rugging will continue this October 22 & 24-27. Come to the museum during half term to take part in finishing this great textile project. Full details here.*** 

We’re creating giant rag rugs inspired by the rugged Cumbrian landscape! Sally Fallows is running drop-in workshops across Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House all summer long. The finished rag rugs and wall hanging will animate the learning centre at Windermere Jetty, Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories when it opens in 2017. Over 250 people have contributed so far – and there’s plenty left to do! So drop in and try your hand at traditional textile techniques with a contemporary twist.

 

Morning workshops at Abbot Hall Art Gallery
Monday to Friday until 2 September / 10:30 – 12:30 

Included with admission – children FREE 

Create an aerial view of Windermere in wool using a mix of hooking, prodding, crochet and pom-poms! Inspired by Winifred Nicholson’s views of Cumbria, on display at Abbot Hall Art Gallery until 15 October 2016. Nicholson designed over 180 rag rugs and commissioned local artists to make them. We also drew inspiration from Alexandra Kehayoglou‘s spectacular wool rug artworks.

 

Afternoon workshops at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House
Monday to Friday until 2 September / 2:00 – 4:00
Included with admission – children FREE 

Help make a gigantic wall hanging inspired by the view from Blackwell – complete with fleecy sheep and boats sailing on Windermere. Enjoy an afternoon of crafting in an idyllic setting. Materials are locally sourced from William’s Wools and Faye’s Sewing Box – including local alpaca yarn from Town End Yarns.

 

Lakeland Arts 2016 and beyond…

Busy times are ahead for Lakeland Arts in Cumbria, one of the leading Arts and Heritage Organisations in the North West. Originally Founded in 1957, it has since developed a hugely successful artistic programme, which repeatedly brings the best contemporary and historical artists to the area. On an annual basis, thousands of visitors come to indulge themselves in visual feasts of consistently high quality exhibitions, held at inspiring settings throughout the Lake District and just outside. Yet this is only part of the story. For over the next few years, there are plans to raise the stakes even higher, with an ambitious strategy to significantly grow a diverse selection of attractions. Notwithstanding the realisation of an ambitious new Windermere Jetty project or the completion of new period rooms at Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House in Bowness.

Since opening Abbot Hall Art Gallery in 1962, the former Georgian town house has gained a national and international reputation for the excellence of its collections and programming. A wide-ranging collection boasts something for everyone, from iconic works such as the huge 16th Century triptych portrait of Lady Anne Clifford, to Cumbrian born George Romney’s finest society portraits from the 18th Century. Hung in elegant period rooms these magnificent works rub shoulders with a fine set of 18th & 19th Century watercolours from the likes of J.M.W. Turner, John Constable and Edward Lear. Highlights of a strong modern and contemporary collection include paintings by the St. Ives School, Graham Sutherland, L. S. Lowry and Ivon Hitchens, with three-dimensional pieces by Barbara Hepworth and Jean Arp. You can also find an important selection of works by German refugee Kurt Schwitters, who spent the last few years of his life in the Lake District, after fleeing to England in 1940. From its early days, Abbot Hall has regularly brought some of the most celebrated names in the art world to Cumbria, from: Bridget Riley, Lucien Freud and Patrick Caulfield to name only a few. The current highly acclaimed exhibition ‘Canaletto: Celebrating Britain’ is on the last leg of a hugely successful tour, which has already taken in the Compton Verney Art Gallery in Warwickshire and Holburne Museum in Bath. It offers a Northwest audience the unique chance to see a large grouping of drawings and paintings by the illustrious 18th century Italian artist. The works have been brought together from major collections including: the Royal Collection, British Museum and Dulwich Picture Gallery, along with a number of private lenders.

Lakeland Arts have also developed an extensive learning and activities programme of events, lectures, workshops, films and concerts across all of their sites. Giving invaluable access to their collections for families, schools, colleges and community groups. All galleries are free for children up to the age of sixteen, and young people receive further support with a variety of cross-curricula opportunities, predominantly in Art and Design and History. Engaging the local community is also another top priority. A series of projects aimed at meeting the needs and interests of individual groups include a programme entitled, Enriched by Moments, which delivers activities and events designed to engage people living with dementia along with their carers. These informal sessions often stimulate lively discussion, generating creative ideas and enhancing feelings of well-being. They have also established partnerships with organisations such as: Young Cumbria, the Leonard Cheshire Disability Trust, Riverview Day Centre in Kendal and residents and staff at the Leonard Cheshire Home at Holehird, Windermere.

2016-ah-rembrandt-h_0

From March this year, Abbot Hall will become one of only three host venues selected to display a Masterpiece from the National Gallery Collection. Rembrandt’s Self Portrait at the Age of 63 will arrive during a UK tour from January to July 2016. This late contemplative self-portrait by one of the world’s most revered artists represents another major coup for the gallery. Helen Watson, Director of Exhibitions and Collections is obviously thrilled, “We are excited about bringing one of the greatest works of art in the UK to Kendal. Visitors will have a unique opportunity to spend time with this magnificent painting, study it in detail and learn about Rembrandt and his self-portraits.” Keeping a close eye on the Dutch master will be Lady Anne Clifford’s barn door-sized triptych from the same period, which is to be shown in an adjacent gallery. Looking forward to the pair meeting one another, Anne-Marie Quinn, Learning and Engagement Officer at Abbot Hall reveals, “We have designed a programme of talks and activities to encourage all our visitors to spend time with Rembrandt and Lady Anne. They are remarkable characters in their own right and both have used portraiture in very different ways to describe moments throughout their lives. Lady Anne’s portraits create a narrative about her status and power, while Rembrandt’s self-portrait is the intense almost spiritual scrutiny of an older man, reflecting on his image, and perhaps his whole life.

molli-street-scene-h

Housed nearby in the old coach house and stable block at Abbot Hall, The Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry displays a significant and widespread collection relating to the social and industrial history of the Lake District and Kendal. This year visitors will be treated to a new layout with more interactive displays. Exhibits not to miss include the original sketches, drawings, photographs, mementoes and a pair of slippers once belonging to Arthur Ransome, author of the enduring children’s classic, Swallows and Amazons. Whilst there are further opportunities to step back in time with the Victorian photographs of the Lake District by Joseph Hardman, or by tracing the local development of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

bw-today-2-h

When architect MH Baillie Scott completed Blackwell in 1901, he built a beautiful holiday home overlooking Windermere for his client, Sir Edward Holt, a wealthy industrialist. Exactly one hundred years later, Lakeland Arts opened the house to the public in 2001, after stepping in to save it from an uncertain future. Initially securing a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a restoration project, this masterpiece of twentieth-century design now continues to present a rare opportunity for visitors to experience a breath-taking example of the Arts & Crafts Movement today. At the moment, plans to bring the Blackwell Project: An Arts and Crafts Story are close to fruition. This two-year project will eventually introduce new Arts and Crafts furnishings, objects and textiles to further enhance the period rooms, whilst telling the stories of some of the people who lived and worked at Blackwell.

Unquestionably, one of the most exciting future additions for the Lakeland Arts portfolio is the realisation of the new Windermere Jetty, Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories. Which replaces the former Windermere Steamboat Museum that opened in 1977. Thanks again to significant support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, an eighteen month build and fit-out programme started in a special Ground-breaking ceremony on November 20th 2015. Once opened, the new Museum will add a further dimension to Cumbria’s rich heritage and cultural offer. Windermere’s lakeshore history will come alive as it is combined with displays of steam launches, motorboats, yachts and other vessels. A new learning centre is a key feature of the design, whilst a new café will provide stunning views over the length of Windermere. Martin Ainscough, Chairman of Lakeland Arts is clearly delighted; “This is a major step towards opening the Museum to the public so that everyone can enjoy seeing the historic boats on display in the exhibition galleries and on the lake”. Local MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale (and leader of the Liberal Democrats) Tim Farron, also welcomes the latest addition to the shoreline, stating; “I cannot wait for the new building to open so I can have a look at Lakeland Arts’ fantastic collection of historic boats. I am grateful for the support the Heritage Lottery Fund continues to give to Cumbria”.

With the completion of the Windermere Jetty project expected in 2017, Lakeland Arts will grow significantly and boast one of the most far-reaching and diverse set of attractions. Incorporating a wide variety of collections with the potential to rival anywhere else in the UK. For nearly sixty years, they have cultivated an enviable reputation for exhibiting art of the highest quality. This has been achieved alongside the creation of inspiring spaces for the understanding and enjoyment of artists, the collections and buildings. Whilst the exhibition programme continues to celebrate artistic endeavour and imagination, it also engages and challenges audiences to fully experience all forms of art.

David Banning
Visitor Experience Coordinator, Lakeland Arts