Touring from the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden, this exhibition marks the centenary of the birth of Kenneth Rowntree (1915 – 1997), one of Britain’s best loved artists, known for his works in oil and watercolour.
Pallant House Gallery is delighted to present Kenneth Rowntree: A Centenary Exhibition in the De’Longhi Print Room from 22 July – 18 October 2015. A touring exhibition from the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden, this is the first retrospective exhibition for British artist Kenneth Rowntree since his death in 1997 and marks the centenary of the artist’s birth.
A contemporary of Edward Bawden, Michael Rothenstein, and Eric Ravilious, with whom he became great friends, Kenneth Rowntree was influenced by a generation of artist-designers and is best known for his works in oil and watercolour. This exhibition features oil, acrylic, watercolour and gouache paintings, along with drawings, prints and posters, spanning the 1930s – 1980s.
Through his friendship with Ravilious, Rowntree moved to the idyllic village of Great Bardfield in 1941. Rowntree depicted his surroundings using playful recurring motifs, and distinct locations including the Essex countryside, the Welsh Hills and the Sussex coastline can be identified in his work. Later the Australian outback and the great landscapes of America which he visited during his travels overseas became common subjects in his work.
The exhibition includes over 20 works which demonstrate the extent of his oeuvre, from a focus on the figurative to the abstract and back again. His wide-ranging creative influences - Eric Ravilious, David Hockney, the Euston Road School, and the Dadaism of Kurt Schwitters – are evident in the selection of works, and yet the enduring themes of humour and inventiveness are consistent throughout.
Whilst living in Essex, Rowntree designed the lithograph of a tractor that came to be synonymous with rural life for a whole generation of school children, included as it was in the iconic series of School Prints which is included in the Pallant House Gallery collection. He was also nominated by Kenneth Clark to work on the project ‘Recording Britain’, which set out to record landscapes, buildings of historical significance and areas of the British countryside that were under possible threat due to war or development.
After the war he worked on several book jacket designs and had commissions for various murals including the 1951 Festival of Britain. In the summer of 1956, Rowntree and his friend Sir John Verney rented a small cottage for their families overlooking the sea at Selsey in Sussex. Here he painted ‘Toy Boat at Selsey’.
This centenary exhibition in association with Liss Llewellyn Fine Art and Moore-Gwyn Fine Art places Rowntree’s work in the wider context of the Gallery’s collection of Modern British art, including abstract and Pop artists of the 1950s and 60s such as Richard Hamilton and Victor Pasmore with whom he taught at the Royal College of Art and Newcastle University. It seeks to confirm Kenneth Rowntree’s significant place in the history of 20th century British art.
The exhibition runs in the De’Longhi Print Room from 22 July – 18 October
Notes to Editors
A programme of talks and events has been scheduled to coincide with the exhibition.
The exhibition is accompanied by the publication of an illustrated book published by Moore-Gwyn Fine Art and Liss Llewellyn Fine Art, with contributions by Alexandra Harris, John Milner, Alan Powers and Peyton Skipwith. Available in the Pallant House Gallery Bookshop. Price £20.
Summer season exhibitions
Sickert in Dieppe (4 July – 4 October 2014)
A major exhibition exploring how the picturesque French seaside resort of Dieppe proved to be such a formative setting for British painter Walter Sickert (1860–1942). A popular destination from the middle of the 1800s for British writers and artists including Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, Dieppe held Sickert’s attention for over four decades, during which he was a regular visitor and a permanent resident from 1898–1905. Over 80 paintings, prints, preparatory drawings and etchings show Sickert’s vivid interest in everyday life in Dieppe - the town’s architecture, harbour and fishing quarter, the shops, café culture and its inhabitants. The exhibition also charts the development of Sickert’s pictorial technique during this period, showing the influence of European artists as diverse Degas, Whistler and the Impressionists. An accompanying display features works by artists who have been influenced by Sickert including Frank Auerbach, David Bomberg, Keith Coventry and Celia Paul.
St Ives and British Modernism: The George and Ann Dannatt Collection (13 June – 20 September 2015)
Marking the centenary of George Dannatt’s birth in 1915, this exhibition will explore one of Pallant House Gallery’s most significant donations, the George and Ann Dannatt Gift. It includes a largely unseen and newly conserved group of paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints by key figures associated with the St Ives Group of Artists in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, including Terry Frost, Roger Hilton, Peter Lanyon, Ben Nicholson and John Tunnard.
Nek Chand (13 June – 25 October 2015)
An installation of mosaic figures by renowned Indian Outsider Artist Nek Chand, known for his famous sculpture park, the Rock Garden of Chandigarh, India.
Michael Petry (From 4 July 2015)
A new stairwell installation by American contemporary glass artist Michael Petry featuring glass sculptures created as a response to the architecture of the Queen Anne townhouses staircase.