Sunday, 24 October 2021

‘Haunting’ artworks are lighting up museum

‘Haunting’ artworks are lighting up museum

THIS autumn the River & Rowing Museum is excited to be opening an outstanding exhibition of art, drawing from The Hepworth Wakefield’s outstanding collection of Forties works on paper by leading British artists.

Natalie Patel, the museum’s head of collections and exhibitions, said: “It is fantastic to bring artworks by leading 20th century artists to Henley. This exhibition features striking watercolours and drawings that give us a unique — and quite frankly haunting — insight into what it would have been like to live and experience post-war Britain.”

These prints and drawings allow us to revisit a decade of anxiety, austerity and idealism that resonates strongly with our lives today. With materials strictly rationed and the art market in crisis, artists including Edward Bawden and John Minton turned to the inexpensive medium of paper to express their experiences of the times in which they lived.

The artworks in this exhibition explore ordinary lives under extraordinary shared circumstances. The majority depict life on the home front, capturing people lost in thought or absorbed in their labours as well as landscapes revealing the devastation of war. A small group of Henry Moore’s shelter drawings form a particular highlight.

Museum director Sarah Posey said: “This is an outstanding selection of works, including images by several of the small group of women war artists. Drawn from a very specific period of time — 1939 to 1951 — these works on paper have a certain immediacy and intimacy, reflecting the experiences of ordinary people in extraordinary times.”

The learning team at the museum have worked to make the exhibition accessible to visitors of all ages, and the display includes a “listen to the picture” feature bringing the pictures to life, a Second World War rationing challenge, and an art detective trail to help young visitors explore the pictures more closely.

The exhibition is being supported by two special events taking place at the museum next month.

The first of these, an expert tour led by the exhibition’s curator, takes place on Monday, November 5, from noon to 12.45pm. Then on Wednesday, November 21, from 11.30am to 12.30pm, the art historian Sandra Smith will deliver a lecture on the subject of “Printmaking and Landscape in the 1940s”.

Tickets for the November 5 curator’s tour are £7. Places are limited so booking is essential. Tickets for the November 21 lecture are £6, with booking also essential.

Call the museum on (01491) 415600 or visit the website