This exhibition begins with etchings by Samuel Palmer and will explore the development of landscape painting in the post-First World War era. The ensuing themes cover Ancient Landscapes, Trees, the Gothic, the Traveller and Nocturnes. These themes will be used to explore the Romantic response to the British countryside and the impact of man on the landscape. Sites, such as Stonehenge, Silbury Hill and the White Horse, Uffington, that have been venerated over the centuries certainly attracted artists Paul and John Nash, John Piper and David Inshaw.
The Brotherhood of Ruralists embraced the Victorian revival and Neo-Romanticism of the 1970s, embodying the very spirit of the age with their retreat from London to the West Country in search of a ‘less complicated life-style’ and their desire for a sense of community. This collective of seven artists, Graham and Anne Arnold, Graham and Annie Ovenden, Peter Blake and his then wife Jann Haworth and David Inshaw, debuted at the Royal Academy in 1976. The Nocturne will conclude the exhibition, a favourite of Palmer, Nash and the Ruralists. It is hoped that the exhibition will be a fitting tribute to over thirty years of Ruralist collaboration, with many works brought together and discussed for the first time. The Ovendens are preparing new works for the event, with Graham Ovenden producing definitive versions of the Orchard Moon and Tower of Babel themes.
The exhibition seeks to affirm the British pastoral tradition, to tease out worlds of ‘private mystery’ and landscapes infused with the sublime or ‘sense of divinity.’ The Ancients, the Neo-Romantics and the Ruralists can be likened to ‘pantheists who feel a fraternity, or even a unity, with living things’. Whereas Palmer painted village life and sought that sense of community, Nash and the Ruralists have also been drawn to the longevity and mystery of ancient sites still imbued with a spiritual aura. The Arnolds and Inshaw moved to Devizes, Wilts to be closer to this source of inspiration. The title reflects these two intertwining themes; Ancient Landscapes - Pastoral Visions.
This exhibition is generously supported by the following benefactors: Stewart Southall, Punter Southall Group, Peter Nahum at the Leicester Gallery, NADFAS Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Area, FOSMAG and the Antique Collector's Club.