5 art exhibitions to visit this November

Thomas Kennington The Pinch of Poverty 1891 Image: Care of the Foundling Museum

Thomas Kennington The Pinch of Poverty 1891 Image: Care of the Foundling Museum - Credit: Archant

From G F Watts’s radical series of early social realist paintings to portraits of actors Susan Sarandon and Ethan Hawke with their dogs, don’t miss these artworks

Art & Action: Making Change in Victorian Britain, Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village in Compton, from November 17 to March 21, 2021

In the mid- to late-19th century, Victorian artists and critics increasingly believed that art could change the future. At Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village in Compton, the exhibition Art & Action: Making Change in Victorian Britain’ focusses on the Victorian roots of art activism

From the 1840s poverty, hunger, and disease became increasingly urgent issues in in-dustrial Britain and a number of artists began to question how their art could benefit so-ciety and help solve social problems. Often working in conjunction with social move-ments, they portrayed harrowing scenes of deprivation and idealised, sympathy-induc-ing images of suffering.

In this fascinating exhibition, works by Sir Luke Fildes, Thomas Kennington and William Morris are exhibited alongside G F Watts’s radical series of early social realist paintings.

From arresting oil paintings to graphic illustrations in the contemporary press, Art & Action: Making Change in Victorian Britain considers how artists chose to circulate their art across Victorian society in different ways. It also examines Samuel and Henrietta Barnett’s campaign to bring annual exhibitions to London’s poverty-stricken East End, a practice that culminated in the foundation of Whitechapel Art Gallery.

Finally, the exhibition considers how changes in art production, promoted by artists such as William Morris and the wider Arts & Crafts movement, advocated for a return to traditional craftsmanship in a stand against the dehumanising conditions enforced by factory labour. Mary Watts’ involvement with the Home Arts and Industries Association, which resulted in the Compton Potters’ Arts Guild, is highlighted as it provided a signifi-cant source of creative and economic support for craftsmen in Surrey for years to come.

Most Read

As Watts Gallery’s founders, G F and Mary Watts were united in their shared belief that art had the power to create significant social change. From community-based projects to the founding of their own picture gallery they strove to ensure that art and art prac-tice could be made accessible for future generations, a legacy that continues to under-pin Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village today.

Web: wattsgallery.org.uk

We Think the World of You: People and Dogs Drawn Together by David Remfry at The Lightbox in Woking until January 3, 2021.

David Remfry (MBE RA) is fascinated by the relationship between dogs and their owners. This exhibition reveals the mutual understanding and sympathy of these partnerships. Among the sitters, look out for Alan Cumming, Susan Sarandon and Ethan Hawke.

Web: thelightbox.org.uk

The Four Seasons, RHS Garden Wisley Until Thursday December 31, 2020.

Sculptures by contemporary American sculptor and filmmaker Philip Haas, are on display at RHS Garden Wisley. The Four Seasons, which are nearly 5m tall, are 3D interpreta-tions of paintings by 16th-century Italian artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Spring, Summer, Au-tumn and Winter are imagined in human form with exuberant arrangements of fruit, vege-tables, flowers and crops.

Web: rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley

Surrey Sculpture Society 2020 exhibition, The Savill Garden, Englefield Green, until November 3, 2020

Don’t miss your last chance to catch Surrey Sculpture Society’s 2020 exhibition, which provides a wonderful combination of interesting art and horticultural excellence. Explore the colourful gardens and encounter 66 sculptures of varying styles, subjects and materials, all inspired by the natural world.

Web: surreysculpture.org.uk

Elements Redefined 2020: A curated exhibition showcasing the work of members of The Surrey Guild of Craftsmen at The New Ashgate Gallery, Farnham October 27 to November 7, 2020

An exhibition that showcases the excellent design and craftsmanship that is the trademark of members of The Surrey Guild of Craftsmen. Guild members are selected professional designer makers of contemporary and traditional applied arts and their work includes glass, ceramics, textiles, mixed media, leather, jewellery and enamelling.

Web: surreyguildofcraftsmen.co.uk / newashgate.org.uk

Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter