4 July 2013

Dulwich Picture Library – arty gem of the south

There is a part of South London where time seems to have stood still. One imagines that Jane Austen might walk past any minute, or Charles Dickens might doff his hat, or Beau Brummel might alight from a carriage.
That place is Dulwich Village. It's like a clash between Hampstead, Windsor and The Cotswolds, but with a London postcode.
In the midst of all this sits the lovely Dulwich Picture Library, designed with skylights by Sir John Soanes so as to achieve the maximum level of natural light indoors – check out his own house in Lincoln's Inn Fields to see the same idea applied in more colourful ways.
The Dulwich Picture Gallery, England's first purpose-built public art gallery, has recently had a re-hang (er... has recently re-hung its paintings in a different configuration.... has recently had moved about the art what's inside).
Rooms have been redecorated and rearranged to further enhance the pieces contained within them. Less is more. A lot of thought has been put into comparative pieces, and larger canvases have been moved down to eye level so that the visitor can best see the artistry.
Of special note is a watercolour by James Stephanoff (c.1788-74) showing the gallery as it was in that era. This new acquisition has been placed in a position where you can best see and compare the difference in the gallery then and now.
When you visit be sure to sit and absorb the simple yet beautiful mausoleum at the back of the building. This is where the gallery's founders are buried.
Until 22nd September.... "Nash, Nevinson, Spencer, Gertler, Carrington, Bomberg: A Crisis of Brilliance, 1908–1922".
This fascinating exhibition compares and contrasts the work created by a group of art school friends who all attended Slade School of Art. They were not a 'group' in the sense of 'the Cubists', 'the Pre-Raphaelites' etc; just a group of talented contemporaries.
It is set out in chronological order and I was especially intrigued how WW1 affected each of the artists differently.
There are also various education and creative workshops to get involved with, including painting and poetry – see the gallery's website for more.

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