Shifting Landscapes

Conrad Atkinson (b.1940), Sellafield Happens…no danger to the public, 1990

Shifting Landscapes
23 September 2017 – 31 March 2018

We experience landscape in so many ways.

It is here and now, under our feet as we go about our daily lives, or seen through the windows of a car, bus or train. It exists in our memory, the image perhaps blurred by the passing years. It is the backdrop to holidays, our back garden, the view from an upstairs window, or the cluster of weeds growing through tarmac at the side of the road.

Landscape rarely stays the same. Shaped by the elements, it also bears the traces of what we have done to it. There are few truly wild places left; most we have trodden, mined, developed, fought to protect, tamed, farmed, bombed, polluted, recreated, replanted.

During the Industrial Revolution the countryside was romanticised as a place of timeless beauty and healthy living: a safe haven, far from the polluted air of the over-crowded cities.  The taste for landscape art, acquired by aristocratic young men on their Grand Tour of Europe in the 18th century, evolved in to a love of the British landscape, fuelled by artists and poets.

Today landscape continues to provide rich inspiration for artists. Shifting Landscapes is inspired by one of them, Conrad Atkinson, and a group of his works which we have recently acquired for the Museum’s collection.

Other artists featuring in the exhibition include Thomas Joshua Cooper, Saul Fletcher, Alice Channer, Paul Sandby, Richard Wentworth, Wolfgang Tillmans, Thomas Sidney Cooper, Susan Hiller, Matthias Withoos , L.S. Lowry and Jitka Hanzlová.