Air: Visualising the Invisible in British Art 1768-2017

Air: Visualising the Invisible in British Art 1768-2017


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Opening Date
Jun. 16, 2017
Opening Time
Close Date
Sep. 03, 2017
Conceptual, Curating, Digital, Drawing, Installation, Mixed...
Queens Road
Bristol, United Kingdom BS8 1PX

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Air: Visualising the Invisible in British Art 1768-2017

This major exhibition of historic and contemporary art traces the tradition in British art of finding inspiration in the air around us and skies above us.  Air explores how our interest in air and the sky has affected the work of British artists stretching across four centuries, encompassing representations of breath, the effects of the wind, and flying creatures (both real and imaginary). The exhibition includes loan works by JMW Turner RA, John Constable RA, Eric Ravilious, Christopher Nevinson ARA, Sir John Everett Millais PRA, Samuel Palmer, Paul Nash and Dora Carrington, alongside work from leading – and exciting emerging – contemporary artists including; Liz Butler, Annie Cattrell, Mat Chivers, Peter Ford RWA, Freya Gabie, Neville Gabie, Dryden Goodwin, Polly Gould, Jemma Grundon, Luke Jerram, Janet Haigh, Stephen Jacobson RWA, Helen Jones, Janette Kerr PPRWA, Jessica Lloyd Jones, Ian MacKeever RA, Bridget McCrum RWA, Mariele Neudecker, David Pelham, Peter Randall-Page RA RWA, Berndnaut Smilde, Kate Williams and Alex J Wood. Starting in the late eighteenth century Air charts the public’s fascination with experiments with air (including the development of air balloons), before progressing on to the industrial revolution, which introduced the concept of air pollution. The nineteenth century embraces intensive studies of clouds (newly classified by meteorologists), whilst the twentieth century encapsulates our wartime pre-occupation with aeroplanes and the intriguing trails they left upon the skyscape. Later works consider the physical possibilities of flight which shifted our perceptions of the landscape as aerial photography expanded our view of the earth from above.  Contemporary work introduces new environmental issues, making reference to climate change and air-borne disease, in addition to exploring air as an integral component to the process of making. Artists consider the relationship between art and science, combining painting, photography, sculpture, installation and film, to demonstrate how air is everywhere: essential to all our lives. The exhibition will be accompanied by a beautifully illustrated publication, including explorative essays, artist texts and images, published by Sansom and Co. available to purchase at the RWA RRP £20. An accompanying Symposium Breath, Flight and Atmosphere: The Theme of Air in British Culture organised with Oxford Brookes University will take place on 26 June 2017 at the RWA. The Call for Papers is now live and the deadline for proposals is the 31 January 2017.  Exhibition concept by Stephen Jacobson RWA and co-curated by Christiana Payne, Stephen Jacobson RWA and Gemma Brace.   Air is sponsored by Meade King Solicitors and supported by Royal Commission for the exhibition 1841.    


Rebecca Clay
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