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.

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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.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

New Expressions: Kendal Skies

We’ve had a bonus week of sky exploring, making cloudy labels, finding accidental clouds and drawing golden eagles in flight. Geoff drew his eagle in great confidence with oil pastel and then layered it over his painted cliffside. Kenneth used chalk pastels to create an atmposheric sky.

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During preparations for the workshop, a little bunch of pristine white labels had been dropped into a tray of ink! A happy accident! This was the inspiration for utilisng the paper that we had used to protect the floor from paint when we were painting the parasol. This was covered in drips and puddles of lovely paint and created a feeling of clouds! And so the group cut out ‘accidental’ clouds, printed weather inspired words on inky labels and continued to use paint to capture the swirling feeling of cloudy skies.

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Pat created the word ‘smog’ remembering her early life in London and Joyce selected areas of dripped paint to create an accidental cloud. Annette scumbled and blended sky and cloud with paint. John drew an image of the sky with language written into the swirling shapes.

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John loves the cloud book, and this led us outside to look at the skies. And back inside, the words to Somewhere Over the Rainbow filled the rooms and Annette and Pat painted rainbows.

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