People on Paper
Press Release: September 2016
Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal
29 October – 17 December 2016
Bringing together some of the finest drawings in the Arts Council Collection
This autumn Abbot Hall Art Gallery presents People on Paper, a remarkable drawing exhibition featuring many of the greatest British artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The show includes drawings by nearly 50 artists, including Frank Auerbach, Martin Bloch, Peter Blake, John Bratby, John Craxton, Peter de Francia, Lucian Freud, Antony Gormley, Alasdair Gray, Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney, Gwen John, Leon Kossoff, LS Lowry, Henry Moore, Eduardo Paolozzi, William Roberts, William Scott, Walter Sickert, Stanley Spencer and Euan Uglow.
Artists have been drawing the figure for centuries, from carefully composed life drawings to people caught unawares at leisure or work. Though there are sometimes surprising similarities across the decades, there is also a great diversity of techniques and approaches. The majority of the works in this exhibition are drawn from observation, though some are from memory or imagination; some are unfinished studies while others are finished works in their own right. As Martin Herbert puts it in his introductory essay to the exhibition catalogue, ‘the figure remains consistent while the world changes around us, because we haven’t yet evolved beyond our bodies, though we may be heading in that direction as we increasingly interweave ourselves with technology’.
Perhaps some of the most surprising examples in the show are those from very early on in artists’ careers – particularly those that demonstrate a more traditional approach very different from the style of representation with which the artists are now associated. The drawing by Richard Hamilton from 1938, for instance, shows a fresh-faced 16-year-old grappling with the discipline of self-portraiture. Mrs Ash Asleep, drawn by Howard Hodgkin in 1952, is similarly uncharacteristic, being a beautifully rendered study of the sitter delineated with precise pencil strokes and careful cross-hatching. More recent highly figurative works, such as Charles Avery’s Untitled (Hunter) (2008-9) and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Study for ‘Anaconda’ (2005), are drawn entirely from the imagination, while other contemporary artists, such as Kate Davis and Jane Dixon, expand the parameters of figurative drawing through the use of alien materials such as ceramic and gesso.
‘This exhibition is concerned less with the disciplined life-drawing tradition of nudity than with the intimacy of one person reflecting on the presence of another using the medium of sketching. In our digitally mediated world, it is edifying to be reminded of the tactile power of a pencil.’
Robert Clark, The Guardian
‘Abbot Hall Art Gallery has thrived from a strong relationship with the Arts Council Collection over many years and is thrilled to bring some of the finest drawings in their Collection to Cumbria, in what is a very special year for the Collection as it celebrates 70 years of great art.’
Helen Watson, Director of Programming, Lakeland Arts
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Arts Council Collection
The Arts Council Collection is a great national collection of British art from 1946 to the present day and holds nearly 8,000 works which are available for loan to spaces across the UK. With more than 1,000 loans made to over 100 venues a year, it is seen by millions of people annually in public spaces from galleries and museums to hospitals, libraries and universities. Representing one of the most important Collections of British modern and contemporary art in the world, it holds important work from Francis Bacon, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore to Lucian Freud, Antony Gormley and Grayson Perry. The Collection supports and promotes British art and British artists by buying art when they are in the early stages of their career, and continues to acquire new work and support emerging artists. The Arts Council Collection is based at Southbank Centre, London and the Sculpture Centre at Longside in Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Arts Council Collection’s 70th anniversary
The Arts Council Collection is celebrating its 70th anniversary during 2016 with eight new commissions that will go on display across the UK throughout 2016; two new touring exhibitions, Night at the Museum, curated by Ryan Gander, and People on Paper; and the newly-launched National Partners programme, which will deepen the Collection’s longstanding relationship with four key museums and galleries around the country: the Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne; Birmingham Museums Trust; and The Walker Art Gallery, National Museums Liverpool; and the Collection’s existing partner, Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Abbot Hall Art Gallery
Kendal, Cumbria LA9 5AL
Open Monday - Saturday, 10.30am - 5pm (4pm November - February)
Sundays throughout July and August, 12 - 4pm.
Adult admission £7 (without donation £6.35), free entry for students and children
Abbot Hall Art Gallery, along with Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry, Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House and Windermere Jetty, Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories are managed by Lakeland Arts. (Registered charity no. 1153001).
Lakeland Arts Press Office
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- Lucian Freud, Drawing of a Girl, Alice, 1974 Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the Lucian Freud Archive/Bridgeman Images