By Jeremy Miles
MAINTAINING a proud tradition of displaying its ever-developing archive of art, Bournemouth's Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum has delved into its vaults to give its entire contemporary collection a rare public outing.
The show, which contains a fascinating variety of works created between the 1970s and the early 1990s, makes an intriguing and thought-provoking sight set against the backdrop of the grand turn of the century galleries of the cliff-top museum.
These works, both abstract and figurative, display influences that range from cubism to expressionism, colourfield painting to romanticism and much more.
The vast majority are from the Southern Arts Collection which was donated to the Russell-Cotes a decade ago, but the show also contains works acquired from local working artists like the Bournemouth painter Abi Kremer, whose 1993 painting Sea Mist is part of the exhibition.
Despite containing a wide range of styles and qualities (they are by no means all masterpieces), the collection represents an interesting period in the history of art and in particular painting, which during the core 20 years represented was rapidly becoming less and less fashionable. The efforts of the artists to reinforce old values and forge a new path is here for all to see.
The works are also the largest group of modern paintings collected by the museum since Sir Merton Russell-Cotes and his wife Annie collected the cutting-edge works of the movers and shakers of the art world of their day from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Southern Arts collection and its ever-growing list of companion works is complimented at the Russell-Cotes by paintings from the 1930s to 1950s gifted to the museum by the Contemporary Art Society and the War Artists Advisory committee. Also currently on show at the art gallery and museum is an exhibition of works featuring images of Bournemouth, Poole and beyond by Eustace Nash and Leslie Ward. One of Nash's paintings Bathing at Studland is pictured above.
Friends and contemporaries in the 1950s, these prolific and much-loved artists have been somewhat neglected since their deaths a quarter of a century ago. This show, called Looking Out, gives people the chance to be reacquainted with their work and introduce their paintings to a new generation of art lovers.
The Russell-Cotes Contemporary Collection is on show until May 9.
Looking Out: Works by Eustace Nash and Leslie Ward is on show until May 2