From masters’ landscape painting to innovative
photography, ancient relics to modern-day icons – 2013 offers a
programme of art exhibitions in Kent and London to satisfy all
tastes, writes Lesley Bellew.
Rosa Barba: Subject to Constant Change
Turner Contemporary, Margate
February 1 to May 6
The major multi-platform film installation, Subconscious
Society, considers the end of the industrial age in favour of an
age of technology.
Filmed in Manchester and Kent, it is inspired by Manchester as
the first industrial metropolis and Margate catering to the related
rise of a new leisure culture for the masses.
This thoughtful work depicts a society trapped inside a
deteriorating interior where the characters explore what happens
when objects lose their functions and meanings: rusting boats;
collapsing piers and rollercoasters and deserted buildings rising
from the sea.
Art in the Dockyard
Historic Dockyard, Chatham
February 16 to May 6
The Historic Dockyard’s bi-annual community art exhibition will
be back in the Stanley Spencer gallery, displaying works of art by
people from Kent, all inspired by elements of the Dockyard. There
will also be a family activity, Picture This, from Saturday,
February 16, to Sunday, February 24, where visitors can produce
some art and add it to the project.
The Pilgrims Way Artists 16th Annual Summer
Tithe Barn, Lenham
May 10 to May 19
A wonderful setting for more than 400 pieces of art, sculpture
and ceramics. A chance to view local work and buy some great-value
pieces. Illustrated catalogue £1. Painting workshops on Wednesday
and Thursday, May 15 and 16, need to be booked (£15 a session).
Free entry and parking.
Exploring Antarctica: The Final Expeditions of Scott and
Historic Dockyard, Chatham
May 24 to August 30
British explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton were
obsessed with the race to the North Pole. Evidence of this comes
through stunning photography and artefacts in an exhibition which
tells unforgettable stories of the competition to conquer the
desolate land we now call Antarctica.
Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing
Turner Contemporary, Margate
May 25 to September 15
This exhibition playfully explores the themes of fascination,
inquiry, obsession, monstrosity and invention.
It enters the realm where research and wonder meet; where
artists interest themselves in physics and natural history, where
scientists and rigorous researchers admit their capacity for awe
and their attachment to bizarre artefacts and phenomena. Are you
From Shore to Sea: Paintings by Sir John Lavery RA
Historic Dockyard, Chatham
September 15 to December 1
Sir John Lavery is seen from a naval perspective in 31 paintings
as part of a major loan from The Imperial War Museum. Lavery was
appointed as an official artist in the First World War but a car
crash during a Zeppelin bombing raid kept him from fulfilling this
role. He did not make it to the Western Front and remained in
Britain and mostly painted boats, planes and airships.
Manet: Portraying Life
January 26 to April 14
With more than 50 paintings spanning the career of the enigmatic
Edouard Manet (1832-1883), this exhibition examines the
relationship between Manet’s portrait painting and his scenes of
modern life. Thematic groupings explore Manet’s world and the
landscape of late 19th-century Parisian society through depictions
of his family, fellow artists, literary, theatrical and political
Schwitters in Britain
January 30 to May 12
The first major exhibition to examine the late work of Kurt
Schwitters, one of the major artists of European Modernism.
Schwitters was forced to flee Germany when his work was condemned
as “degenerate” by the Nazi government and the show traces the
impact of exile on his work. It includes more than 150 collages,
assemblages and sculptures many shown in the UK for the first time
in more than 30 years.
Schwitters’ collages often incorporated fragments from packaging
and newspapers reflecting British life.
Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901
The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House
February 14 to May 26
This exhibition tells the remarkable story of Picasso’s
breakthrough year as an artist. At 19, he launched his career in
Paris with influential dealer Ambroise Vollard and his first
exhibition set him on course to become one of the greatest artists
of the 20th century. Works show the young painter taking on and
transforming the styles and subjects of major modern artists of the
Constable, Gainsborough, Turner and Making of the
Royal Academy, London
Until February 17
Curator MaryAnne Stevens has put together this exhibition wholly
from the Royal Academy’s own collection. In the beautiful John
Madejski Fine Rooms and Weston Rooms, this new exhibition analyses
the shift in landscape painting during the 18th and 19th
The display starts with works of 20th century artists Richard
Long, Norman Ackroyd, Michael Kenny and John Maine who represent
the lasting legacy of Constable, Gainsborough and Turner.
This contemporary relevance shapes the visitor’s journey –
kick-starting an understanding of how Gainsborough and his
contemporaries addressed the changing meaning of “truth to
From hand-written letters to portable water colour palettes, the
130 works include Gainsborough’s Romantic Landscape (c.1783), and a
recently acquired drawing that was last seen in public in 1950.
Constable’s two great landscapes The Leaping Horse (1825) and Boat
Passing a Lock (1826) hang alongside Turner’s brooding diploma
work, Dolbadern Castle (1800).
Victoria & Albert Museum
March 23 to July 28
After David Bowie surprised fans on his birthday by releasing
his first single in 10 years this week, the V&A has chosen 2013
to explore the 66-year-old icon as a musical innovator and cultural
icon across five decades.
The museum has been given unprecedented access to the David
Bowie Archive and the display of more than 300 objects trace his
shifting style and sustained reinvention, including Ziggy Stardust
costumes, photography by Brian Duffy and album sleeve artwork.
There are visual excerpts from films and music videos such as Boys
Keep Swinging and set designs created for the Diamond Dogs tour
(1974) – plus handwritten lyrics, Bowie’s own instruments and album
artwork. Book now.
Life and Death: Pompeii and Herculaneum
March 28 to September 29
AD79. In 24 hours two cities in the Bay of Naples were buried in
lava after the eruption of Vesuvius. Preserved under ash, their
discovery nearly 1,700 years later provided an unparalleled glimpse
into the Romans’ daily life. From bustling streets to intimate
spaces of a Roman home this exhibition takes the visitor to the
heart of the people who lived in Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Revelations: Experiments in Photography
June (date tba)
A new exhibition space opens at the Science Museum in June – the
date is still under wraps, however the first exhibition has been
named. Revelations: Experiments in Photography explores
contemporary art photographers’ responses to scientific photography
made between 1850 and 1920. The 80 works draw upon important
photographs from the collections of the National Media Museum and
the Science Museum.
Vermeer and Music: The Art of Love and
National Gallery, Sainsbury Wing
June 26 to September 8
In 17th century Dutch paintings, music often figured as a
metaphor for harmony, a symbol of transience or, depending on the
type of music being performed, an indicator of education and
position in society. This exhibition explores the concept of music
as a pastime of the elite in the northern Netherlands and will
bring together for the first time the National Gallery’s two
paintings by Johannes Vermeer, Young Woman Standing at a Virginal
and Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, plus The Guitar Player.
Humphrey Ocean: A handbook of modern life
National Portrait Gallery, London
Until July 21
Humphrey Ocean studied at Canterbury Art School from 1970 to
1973. This display contains 40 works painted in gouache on paper
comprising portraits of family and friends who have visited his
south London studio since 2006.
Ocean says of this work: “In real life a simple thing like
catching someone’s eye can change our lives in a second. Stretching
this moment for just as long as it takes to set it down and make a
painting is what I have been doing.” with people I know.”
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