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Cranbourne

Boveridge by E.Q. Nicholson, c. 1949

Courtesy Tim Nicholson

22 October 2011 - 21 January 2012

PLEASE NOTE: This exhibition will be closed on 26 November because of the Dorset Local History Group annual day school.

Cranborne: Art in the shadow of the Chase is a ground-breaking exhibition about the artists who over the last hundred years have found in Cranborne Chase and its hinterland a landscape of ‘bare bone’ beauty and retreat.

With the West Wiltshire Downs, the Chase is now a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It covers an area of  three hundred and eighty square miles and  takes in land from the counties of Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. Originally created a royal hunting ground for William the Conqueror, Cranborne Chase still retains its separateness, a sense of being an ‘island’ apart. For some of the artists, whose work appears in the exhibition, the influence of the Chase and its environs has been tangential, though significant. For others this ancient landscape was, and in some cases still is, at the heart of their life and work.

The paintings, drawings, sculpture and other artwork  in the exhibition have come from a variety of sources, and range from early neo-romantic work of the 1920s to contemporary work specially made for this exhibition. The list of artists is extensive and includes painters: John Craxton, members of the Nicholson family (Winifred, Ben, E.Q., Tim), Lucian Freud, Derek Hill, Augustus John, Henry Lamb, Katharine Church (Kitty West),  Frances Hodgkins, Nora, Amy and Gabriel Summers, James Allardyce, Peggy Rankin, Christopher Row, Mavis Freer, Ursula Leach, Brian Graham, John Hubbard, Paul Jones, Howard Pearce and John Hitchens. There is also sculpture by Elisabeth Frink, Peter Thursby, Ian Middleton and Ann Catherine Row; pottery by Richard Batterham, Chris Carter, Lucy Yarwood and Leonie Summers; glass by Joseph A. Nuttgens and  textile rugs by Louisa Creed and Rod Hill.

In spite of all the changes which have occurred in the last hundred years with increasing urbanisation of the countryside, the Chase has remained topographically intact. It is still a breath taking landscape, an area of outstanding beauty, sparsely populated with large estates small hamlets and villages. It remains an ‘island’, a place apart, and it is this isolation, along with its unique landscape which continues to attract artists today. Like threads of  a mycelium there continues to be  connections between places, painters and their art. Pulling together the work of artists from the recent past and some of those working today, the exhibition will affirm the special qualities of Cranborne Chase and its hinterland and demonstrate that it retains the power to inspire artistic creativity and new progressive art. 

The exhibition is to be accompanied by a richly-illustrated publication Circles _and Tangents :  Art in the shadow of Cranborne Chase, _written by curator, author and artist Vivienne Light FRSA.