Modern Art in Britain: arriving at The Wilson

Posted on by Fay Curtis.

Caroline Willatt, Collections Team Leader, The Wilson

Painting by John Bellany called Self Portrait with Juliet

Self portrait with Juliet by John Bellany, 1979 © The John Bellany CBE, RA Estate

As Collections Team Leader at The Wilson in Cheltenham, part of my role is to curate Fine Art, and I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to get involved with the Frameworks Partnership Project.

For this joint project, each venue is taking a different look at modern British art and hosting a display in celebration, including paintings and works on paper by leading artists of the past century. It’s been great to hear about the plans and read the introductions for the other exhibitions and to learn about the individual approach each venue is taking to the overarching theme of Modern Art in Britain. The display at The Wilson, entitled An Open Window, is the first to open. We have focussed on four portraits that are all on loan from Swindon Museum & Art Gallery’s incredible collection.

We’ve been delighted to have been able to borrow these wonderful paintings, which all offer a fascinating approach to narrative in portraiture.

It was really exciting to unpack the works and in particular to see the dark tones of Charles Blackman’s ‘The Family’ in contrast to the vibrant colours of John Bellany’s ‘Self Portrait with Juliet’ (above). The selection of works was based partly on complementing our existing collection and seeing the works next to our Lynn Chadwick sculpture was really striking, particularly because it highlights the relationships between figuration and abstraction in the post-war period.

An Open Window is on display until 8 March 2015, and I’m hoping that visitors get as much enjoyment out of the display as I have.

More Frameworks posts

Read more about the Frameworks: Great Art in the West partnership.

Read more about the Present Tense exhibition at Swindon Museum & Art Gallery.

Read about Modern Art in Britain: ‘The Human Clay’ at Victoria Art Gallery, alongside ‘Beryl Cook: Intimate Relations’


Main image: A technician placing John Bellany painting ‘Self Portrait with Juliet’, a loan from the Swindon Collection, in The Friends Gallery at The Wilson.

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