Sussex Modernism at Two Temple Place review ***


Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion

Two Temple Place, 15th February 2017

Just a quick shout out for this interesting, compact exhibition. For those who don’t know Two Temple Place it is a neo-Gothic, late Victorian mansion on the Embankment built for an Astor and full to the brim of OTT panelling, carving and painting. It puts on occasional exhibitions at the beginning of each year and this year it is a diverting journey through key British figurative artists of the first half of the C20.

Many of the artists represented here spent sizeable chunks of their working lives at various locations in Sussex hence the theme and many were associated with the Bloomsbury Group and latterly whimsical British surrealism. Sussex no doubt because the houses are nice and the rich toffs have always liked it and it was close to the capital. But also to be fair because the landscapes did offer material to feed the muse. But don’t expect any proletarian radicalism here.

What you do get though are 120 or so works by many of the key figures in British art through the 1920s to 1950s.My favourites are the sculptures from Eric Gill (we can still appreciate the art I think), some lovely Vanessa Bell works (including a perfect still-life and fine fabrics), an Eric Ravilious interior, landscapes and studies by John Piper, Edward Wadsworth and Paul Nash, watercolours by Edward Burra and some haunting photos by Lee Miller.

All in all worth a detour or a lunchtime trip if you work close by. And it’s free. On until 23rd April.

P.S. I note that a fair proportion of the works on show here come from the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne which is one of my absolute favourites. It always has interesting exhibitions informed by its permanent collection. Like the Turner Contemporary in Margate a great excuse when the sun comes out to get on the train, scoff some chips and ice cream, take a look at some of the shops set up by the East London bearded dispora and generally promenade. Lovely.

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