Northern Delights

Just before Christmas I visited Sheffield. It’s a city which boasts some of it’s own wonderful art collections but on this occasion I travelled further north still, to Leeds.

My ‘travelling companions’ and I, were on a pilgrimage to see Grayson Perry’s tapestries ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ at Temple Newsam , a Tudor Jacobean house with impressive gardens on the southern outskirts of Leeds.

Expulsion (detail from) The Vanity of Small Differences by Grayson Perry 2012. Photo from Artfund.org
Expulsion (detail from) The Vanity of Small Differences by Grayson Perry 2012. Photo from Artfund.org
The Vanity of Small Differences (detail) by Grayson Perry 2012
The Vanity of Small Differences (detail) by Grayson Perry 2012

The weather was grim; murky grey and damp but inside the tapestries effervesced with glorious colour. Having seen 2 out of the 3 episodes of the Channel 4 documentary about the making of the tapestries I felt well prepared, if not blasé about seeing them in the flesh. TV certainly does not prepare you for their vibrancy and depth, detail and weight. They are tremendous and I urge you to seek them out.

I visited on a weekday afternoon and although the house was not busy there were a fair number of visitors to see the Grayson Perry work. Looking around at the same time as me was a group of elderly women who were thoroughly enjoying deciphering the stories that were woven around Tim Rakewell. I could’ve stayed far longer but the museum was closing and we were on a tight time limit to get to Leeds University Art Gallery before that closed too.

We made it! Just in time to see Nostalgia & Progress: Illustration after WWII. It was a small but perfectly formed exhibition with some lovely pieces by Edward Ardizzone, Edward Bawden, Emily Sutton and Mark Hearld with some eerie work by Charles Keeping as well as a number of other artists you’d recognise, but those were the stand out works for me.

Work by Bawden
Work by Bawden

 

Hearld collages.
Hearld collages.

 

Ardizzone book jacket design
Ardizzone book jacket design

 

The permanent collection was also very interesting, coincidentally complementing the book I’m reading (and thoroughly enjoying) at the moment.

I recommend both Temple Newsam and Leeds University Art Gallery and you should pop in when you get the chance. I’m very much looking forward to my next venture up North and have plans to explore Newcastle and Manchester especially the newly funded improvements at The Whitworth as it’s a good 10 years since I last visited that excellent gallery.

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