Five free exhibitions

  • 16 June 2016

The joy of a National Art Pass – five fantastic shows, all completely free.

Enjoy free admission to these and other major exhibitions across the UK with a National Art Pass.


Stanley Spencer: Visionary Painter of the Natural World

Although best known for the commissions he produced as an official war artist, Spencer's oeuvre was in fact far more diverse. He was particularly fascinated by the natural world and loved to capture the rural surrounds of his hometown in paint. In 1938 he began creating pictures of gardens and landscapes in the Cookham area, one of which, Magnolias, pleased Spencer so much he wrote to his dealer, Dudley Tooth, that it was ‘as good as anything I have done’ before it was even finished. The piece is shown here alongside other examples of his garden vistas, green landscapes and river idylls. The exhibition is part of the programme celebrating 150 years since the artist's birth.


The English Rose: Feminine Beauty from Van Dyck to Sargent

This museum brings together an array of masterpieces that document the ideals of the ‘English Rose’ aesthetic that dominated between the 17th and 20th centuries. Its recent acquisition, Olivia, Mrs Endymion Porter, is heralded as key example; painted by Van Dyck at the height of his career, the picture shows her ‘au naturel’ in her nightgown and pearls. While Porter et al may have been considered great beauties of their time, the exhibition is careful to highlight the limit of their opportunities; a double portrait of Elizabeth and Mary Linley – part of a talented musical family known as ‘The Nest of the Nightingales’ – is the only known picture of the sisters together as once they were married they were forbidden from singing in public.


Dorothy Bohm: Sixties London

Just moments before she fled from Lithuania to Britain in a bid to escape Nazi persecution, Dorothy Bohm was handed a Leica camera by her father as a parting gift. It was a defining moment for the 15 year old, and after finishing school in Sussex, she moved to Manchester to study photography. By the 1950s she had settled in London and began producing an incredible series of candid images of the city's inhabitants, from schoolchildren to artists, workmen to market stall traders. The pictures document a transformative era in the capital, which is the focus of this display.


The Great British Graphic Novel

Charting the rise of the British graphic novel, the museum brings together the work of William Hogarth, Kate Charlesworth, Martin Rowson, Bryan and Mary Talbot and other stalwarts of the nation. At the heart of the show is a page of original artwork from the genre-defining graphic novel Watchmen, which was drawn by the UK’s comics laureate, Dave Gibbons. After the book's publication its artwork was sold off and disappeared into private collections around the globe. It wasn't until 2015, when the museum acquired a black and white page of sketches from the USA, that original Watchmen designs were owned by a public institution for the first time.


Kate Malone: Inspired by Waddesdon

Ceramicist Kate Malone has created a new series of work inspired by the gardens, collections and archive of the manor. While some pieces draw out details from Waddesdon's rich holdings of Sèvres porcelain or passementerie (decorative tassles, braids and fringing), others reimagine life at the manor – for example, the theatre of gourds and squashes that is constructed in Alice de Rothschild's 19th-century private garden every autumn has been recreated in pottery.

Tags: ExhibitionsWhat to see