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Friday, 14 April 2017

British Art: Ancient Landscapes, The Salisbury Museum

I hope to visit this exhibition next week (now visited):

British Art: Ancient Landscapes, Saturday, April 8, 2017 to Sunday, September 3, 2017

"The British landscape has been a continual inspiration to artists across the centuries and particularly the landscapes shaped and marked by our distant ancestors. The megaliths, stone circles and chalk-cut hill figures that survive from Neolithic and Bronze Age times have stimulated many artists to make a response. In this major new exhibition curated by Professor Sam Smiles, these unique artistic responses have been brought together to create a new discussion. Featuring the work of some of the greatest names in British art from the last 250 years, see John Constable, JMW Turner, Eric Ravilious, John Piper, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Paul Nash, Richard Long, Derek Jarman and more, as their work records and reflects on some of our most treasured ancient landscapes".

Major landscape exhibition at Salisbury

Britain’s ancient landscape as painter’s muse at Salisbury Museum

Barbara Hepworth - Figures in a Landscape (1953) - extract

BBC extract

Full film on BFI Player

Henry Moore, Stonehenge I

Henry Moore, Stonehenge III

William Anderson Nesfield, Circle of stones near Tormore, Isle of Arran

Paul Nash, Landscape of the Megaliths

Richard Long, A Walk Past Standing Stones

Is it the case that the painters and artists had a vision of Britain profoundly different from that of many writers and novelists?

John Carey, in "The Intellectuals and the Masses" writes (page 50):

"The uglification of England drove young writers abroad, preferably to wild and remote locales, producing an Indian Summer of English travel-writing between the wars. Evelyn Waugh went to east Africa, Graham Greene to West; Robert Byron to India, Tibet, Persia, Siberia and China, as well as the remoter parts of Greece. It is clear from Byron's letters home that a prime motive behind his travels is escape from the crush and ugliness of modern England".

One might add that Lawrence Durrell's prime motive for escaping to Corfu (an additional motive to the economic considerations of his grieving mother) was to get away from Bournemouth and what he called "Pudding Island".

It seems that many painters and artists of the same period found inspiration in the enduring beauty of the English countryside and the ancient landscape.

Or perhaps they lacked the means and the genes of the colonial adventurers?


Some other museum highlights:

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