Aldeburgh's Thompson's Gallery reopens with celebration of Modern British artists

Newbold Pacey, by John Piper, part of the Modern British Painters exhibition at the Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh

Newbold Pacey, Warwickshire by John Piper, part of the Modern British Painters exhibition at the Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh - Credit: Thompson's Gallery

Thompson’s Gallery in Aldeburgh are celebrating the reopening of their gallery after the trials and tribulations of lockdown with a colourful explosion, exploring the very best of modern British paintings.

Camilla McCausland, curator for the gallery, said: “We are very much looking forward to opening our doors to visitors and as such we have arranged something rather special to mark the occasion. Our upcoming Modern British exhibition has all kinds of goodies in it which will celebrate the width and breadth of works painted in Britain during the 20th and 21st Century.”

Water Play Scene by Fred Yates, part of the Modern British Painters exhibition at the Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh

Water Play Scene by Fred Yates, part of the Modern British Painters exhibition at the Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh - Credit: Thompson's Gallery

She said the gallery has collected together a wide range of first-rate art works which will demonstrate the quality of British painting during the modern British-era which began after the first World War.

Figures With A Bird by John Bellany, part of the Modern British Painters exhibition at the Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh

Figures With A Bird by John Bellany, part of the Modern British Painters exhibition at the Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh - Credit: Thompson's Gallery

“This period of artistic output contains a range of style and focus- natural subject matter such as landscape and still life remained emphasised; scenes of leisure and enjoyment were prevalent; and those elevating abstraction saw a surge of interest and legitimacy much in part to Picasso’s growing influence.”

She added that after months of just looking at paintings online it will be a real treat to gaze upon the real works hung on a wall in front of you.

The Dance by Robin Philipson, part of the Modern British Painters exhibition at the Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh

The Dance by Robin Philipson, part of the Modern British Painters exhibition at the Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh - Credit: Thompson's Gallery

Among the paintings to be shown is a portrait of John Bellany’s grandmother, along with beautiful ethereal landscapes by Fred Cuming, several of Mary Fedden’s still lives and a collage by Sir Terry Frost.   


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“We will also be showing works by Donald Hamilton Fraser, Henry Moore, Sir Philip Robinson and a quite stunning ‘Foliate Heads’ by John Piper.” Piper has a close link with Aldeburgh, having been a close friend of Benjamin Britten, who also commissioned him to design the staging for many of his operas at Covent Garden.

Foliate Heads by John Piper, part of the Modern British Painters exhibition at the Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh

Foliate Heads by John Piper, part of the Modern British Painters exhibition at the Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh - Credit: Thompson's Gallery

Thompson’s Gallery has also had a long and successful relationship with another of Britten’s artistic friends, the painter Mary Potter – who swapped houses with Britten in the mid-50’s with Potter taking over Crag House and Britten and Peter Pears moving into The Red House.

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This new exhibition will be showing three diverse examples of Mary Potter’s work, all varying in medium and subject.  Mary loved Aldeburgh and the surrounding area and this is demonstrated so beautifully in her paintings which tend to have a subtlety and softness about them.   

“Alongside Mary Potter we will be showing another famous artist from Aldeburgh, Peggy Somerville whose style is slightly bolder but equally representative of the east coast albeit in a contrasting style to Potter.  

“We also have a lovely painting by Edward Seago of Henley where he has moved away from the moody skies of East Anglia to a more colourful and richly painted view of the river Thames with boats and surrounding buildings.  Three paintings by Fred Yates will also be on display showing his use of bold colours and brush strokes.”

Beach Scene by Dorothea Sharp, part of the Modern British Painters exhibition at the Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh

Beach Scene by Dorothea Sharp, part of the Modern British Painters exhibition at the Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh - Credit: Thompson's Gallery

Another distinctive artist to be included in the May exhibition is Dorothea Sharp, who painted Monet-inspired landscapes, often featuring children and beach scenes.  Dorothea forged the way for many female artists being the Vice President of the Society of Women Artists for four years from 1908 and was once described as England’s greatest living woman artist by Harold Sawkins.  

“We will also be showing an intriguing pastel on paper by Peter Howson of a cat, typical in his style but not a typical subject matter for the artist,” said Camilla.

Obelisks by John Piper, part of the Modern British Painters exhibition at the Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh

Obelisks by John Piper, part of the Modern British Painters exhibition at the Thompson's Gallery in Aldeburgh - Credit: Thompson's Gallery

The Modern British Paintings exhibition will open at Thompson’s Gallery, High Street, Aldeburgh, on May 15 and will run until June 6.
 

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