School of Art
Exhibition curated by students of Museum and Gallery Studies21 May – 14 September 2007
From Gothic Westminster and Baroque St Paul’s to Richard Rogers’ Lloyds Building and Norman Foster’s Waterloo, London’s rich architectural heritage has, for centuries, provided many and varied subjects for artists. It is these very monuments, palaces, abbeys, parks and squares that have helped create a London worthy of its capital city status.
Through the city’s heart runs Old Father Thames, once described by John Burns (1858-1943) as ‘liquid history’. It too has appealed to artists who have recorded shipping and merchantile life, its bridges, warehouses and embankments. James McBey’s Repairing a Barge, Bermondsey pays tribute to arguably the greatest suite of prints to concern themselves with the river, James McNeill Whistler’s renowned Thames Set of 1859.
Finding efficient solutions to London’s public transportation gave us not only riverboats but taxicabs, buses, trains and, in an attempt to ease congestion on the streets, the Underground. The posters exhibited here were intended to promote, among other things, tourism and transport services. The much-loved Routemaster buses and packed commuter trains conjure a city that is vital and thriving.
In 1776, Adam Smith referred to Britain as ‘a nation of shopkeepers’ and it remains today one of the world’s great trading centres. But away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, Londoners seek refuge in the peace of museums, its great parks – the Lungs of London – or promenade along the Embankment. Public houses, theatres, cinemas and sporting grounds are a further source of leisure activities and entertainment.
Richards’ Costers Dancing is a reminder too of the colourful characters that were once a familiar sight in London’s East End, whilst La Dell’s Band in the City and Gentleman’s Doggett’s Coat and Badge conjure a city rich in history and appeal to our fondness for tradition and pageantry.
This exhibition of prints from the School of Art Collection, supplemented by private loans, has been curated by Museum and Gallery Studies students in part fulfilment of their third year module MG30420: Exhibition and Display: Kim Chesters, Fiona Cocksey, Jonathan Cranston, Gwenllian Jones and Radka Myslikova.