At the outbreak of the Second World War an ambitious scheme was set up to employ artists on the home front to record the changing landscape of Britain. Sir Kenneth Clark commissioned artists to paint ‘places and buildings of characteristic national interest’, documenting rural and urban environments and precious buildings under threat, not only from bombs but from the effects of ‘progress’ and development. The result was a collection of more than 1500 watercolours of which 49 are on display in this exhibition.
Now held by the Victoria and Albert Museum, Recording Britain features many beautiful watercolours by prolific artists such as John Piper, Kenneth Rowntree and Barbara Jones along with a number of lesser-known contributors. By focusing on quiet corners and local scenes, Recording Britain takes us off the beaten track of iconic British landmarks and postcard images.
In addition to works from the original collection, the exhibition will feature a selection of contemporary works including paintings and photographs by Conrad Atkinson, Richard Long, David Nash and Laura Oldfield Ford.
Due to popular demand, the exhibition’s stay at Towner has been extended and will now be running until 26 June.
Exhibition organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Kenneth Rowntree, Grainfoot Farm, Derwentdale, Derbyshire, 1940, Watercolour, Given by the Pilgrim Trust copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Barbara Jones, Savages Yard, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, 1942, Watercolour and bodycolour, Given by the Pilgrim Trust copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London
John Piper, The Tithe Barn, Great Coxwell, Berkshire c. 1940, Watercolour, Given by the Pilgrim Trust copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Tony Ray-Jones, Glyndebourne 1967, Gelatin silver print, copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London