Key works from the extraordinary archive of Dr Jeffrey Sherwin, a GP by profession, who has built up the largest collection of British surrealist art in the country.

Unlike other artistic movements, surrealism has never had a single overriding visual aesthetic, meaning the collection is diverse in its styles and imagery.

Represented are some of the earliest British surrealist works from the 1920s and early 30s, revealing that the movement’s ideals were evident even before the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936. This key event, held in London and attracting over 1000 visitors a day, exposed the wider public to surrealism's radical nature.

Over the next decade the events of the Spanish Civil War and the outbreak of the Second World War saw surrealist imagery became more overtly political. It also played heavily on the imagination– from the psychoanalytical experiments of Grace Pailthorpe and Reuben Mednikoff to the investigation of gender and sexuality in the works of female surrealists Emmy Bridgewater and Ithell Colquhoun.

Works on display also reveal, that even after its peak in the 1930s and 40s, surrealism has continued to influence the work of modern and contemporary artists, from Desmond Morris and Conroy Maddox to Eduardo Paolozzi, John Davies and Damien Hirst.

Abbot Hall Art Gallery

Abbot Hall, Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 5AL

01539 722464


Opening times

Open Monday to Saturday

1st November - 28th February

The Gallery: 10:30am - 4:00 pm

Last Admission: 3:30pm

The Bakestone: 10:00am - 5:00pm

1st March - 31st October

The Gallery: 10:30am - 5:00pm

Last Admission: 4:30pm

The Bakestone: 10:00am - 5:00pm

Free entry with National Art Pass

50% off exhibitions with National Art Pass

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