Monday, 14 December 2015

Pauline Burbidge Exhibition at The Bowes Museum

Honesty Skyline by Pauline Burbidge
As I mentioned in an earlier blogpost, I had a lovely weekend in the north of England at the end of November.  The highlight (in art terms at least!) was visiting the Pauline Burbidge exhibition at The Bowes Museum on its opening day.
Detail of Horizons of Puglia by Pauline Burbidge
I don’t think I have ever been to an exhibition where the visitors all spent so long looking at the artwork.  Apparently, the normal time a museum visitor spends looking an artwork can be measured in seconds.  All of the visitors I saw spent several minutes carefully absorbing each artwork on show.
Samples of Pauline Burbidge's mark-making on fabric
This exhibition is of Pauline’s most recent work.  Having moved to working in simple monotone, she now is adding a striking band of colour to her work through the use of cyanotype printing.  Her subject matter continues to be that of the nature which surrounds her.  She doesn’t make work of a recognisable place, more to give you a sense of place.  I felt as if I was out in a field, totally surrounded by tall grasses; the wild countryside and high at the top of my vision was a brilliant blue sky.  This was pleasurable viewing, especially given how awful the reality of the weather was outside – I had no desire to spend time in the real landscape that day – Pauline’s created one was much more congenial!
Samples of Pauline Burbidge's cyanotypes
To make the visit more encompassing for the viewer, there were two videos: one of Pauline’s awesome inspirational photos; the other of her at work in her studio.  The visit was also accompanied by specially composed, haunting music.  There were  her tools, sketchbooks and samples on view – all the things makers want to know about her working processes.
A selection of Pauline Burbidge's tools and equipment
It was my first visit to The Bowes Museum and all of us (R and the kids included) really enjoyed it.  There was a great kids trail and activities for them to do and we all wished we had had the time to sample the cafe. 
Starscape by Pauline Burbidge, with added reflections!
Pauline’s exhibition was in the Fashion and Textile Gallery, which was worth a visit in itself.  Tantalisingly, to accompany her exhibition, there is a display of quilts in the Glass Cube.  They were all overlapped, so you couldn’t see them properly, but apparently if you go as part of a group, you can arrange to gain better access.
Honesty and Fern by Pauline Burbidge
I’ve written articles about the exhibition for Popular Patchwork and The Quilter, with proper, high quality press images.  So you will need to read them if you want to see those photos and to read about my thoughts on the exhibition in depth.  These are just some snaps I took on the day.
The antique quilts on display at The Bowes Museum

The exhibition is on at The Bowes Museum until April, when it transfers to the Ruthin Craft Centre.

I would really recommend a visit.  If you are unable to go, there is a lovely catalogue which accompanies the exhibition, which is available directly from the museum shop website for £9.99.  If Santa is being generous, some of Pauline's quilts are also for sale there!


Maggi said...

I really l;love the direction that Pauline's work has taken. Would love to have the opportunity to see the exhibition but maybe I'll have to wait until it gets to Ruthin.

Gillian Cooper said...

I agree, the blue adds so much and Pauline's handling of the materials is superb. Well worth a visit and I'm sure it will be just as good in Wales

deb-of-pixeladies said...

Thanks for sharing the photos. I wish I could see them in person.

Gillian Cooper said...

Thanks Deb. Pauline is having an exhibition at the International Quilt Centre in Lincoln Nebraska later this year. I know it's not close to you, but it must be nearer than England!

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