Cultural excursions

Eight spring art exhibitions near Landmarks

In the start of a news series, we look at eight fêted exhibitions on this spring at museums and galleries within 40 minutes of a Landmark - all inspired reasons for a cultural getaway. Many of these exhibitions are free to all or have reduced price entry for National Art Pass holders, brought to you by our partner Art Fund.

Grayson Perry: The Life of Julie Cope, Firstsite 

Until 18 February; free entry
Less than a 10 minute walk from Peake’s House in Colchester, Essex

“Julie said she had never known such bliss
He had kissed her and said that if she died
He would then grieve as deep as Shah Jahan
And build a Taj Mahal upon the Stour”

Extract from The Ballad of Julie Cope by Grayson Perry

Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry returns to his home county for a striking exhibition of the artworks designed for ‘A House for Essex,’ the building in Wrabness designed by Perry in collaboration with FAT Architecture.

‘A House for Essex’ serves as a secular chapel to the memory of a fictional Essex woman, Julie Cope, whose life story is told through the works. Showcased at contemporary gallery Firstsite in Colchester, the collection includes tapestries, woodcuts, ceramics, tiles and poetry. Overflowing with cultural and architectural detail, Perry’s tapestries –which, along with his sketchbooks, are the highlight of this exhibition - weave together a social history of both Essex and modern Britain.

Between 1550 and 1600 a large number of Protestant weavers and cloth makers from Flanders, fleeing persecution, settled in Colchester. Settling just north of the high street, in an area that would become known as the ‘Dutch Quarter,’ they helped Colchester become one of the most prosperous wool towns in England. Less than a 10 minute walk from Firstsite, currently celebrating Perry’s entirely contemporary mechanised weaving, is Peake’s House - a wealthy cloth merchant’s timber-framed Tudor house, and an enduring reminder of the hand craft skills of the Flemish weavers.


Ed Kluz: Sheer Folly, Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Until 25 February; free entry
Less than a 40 minute drive from Calverley Old Hall in Calverley, West Yorkshire

Until 25 February Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the first sculpture park in the UK and the largest of its kind in Europe, celebrates the eccentric, uncanny and overlooked follies, towers and temples that dot the British landscape in the largest solo exhibition to date of work by artist, illustrator and printmaker Ed Kluz.

Kluz’s work reimagines historic landscapes, buildings and objects and is guided by extensive historical research. Featuring paper collages, scraper boards and prints, six of the exhibited prints are directly inspired by Landmarks.

A selection of Ed’s work appeared in our own exhibition Inspiring Landmarks in the summer of 2017, while Yorkshire Sculpture Park was celebrating its 40th anniversary. Less than a 40 minute drive from the Park is our part-medieval, part 17th-century, Calverley Old Hall.

Hear our Historian & Head of Engagement Caroline Stanford chair a conversation between Ed Kluz and Olivia Horsfall Turner on 10 February - information here


A Walk in the Woods – A celebration of Trees in British Art, The Higgins Bedford

Until 25 February; free entry
Less than a 20 minute drive from Warden Abbey in Old Warden, Bedfordshire

It perhaps goes without saying that the tree has long been an important and enduring feature in British landscape painting. But the obvious can all too easily be overlooked. Until 25 February, The Higgins Bedford pay homage to the tree with an exhibition celebrating the role of trees and woodland in British landscape painting.

The principal art gallery and museum in Bedford, the Higgins is situated in part upon the foundations of earthworks from the medieval Bedford Castle. Showcasing some 40 works by such acclaimed artists as John Constable, John Sell Cotman, Paul Nash and Lucian Freud, the show explores various themes which have evolved in artists’ depictions of nature.

Nestled in a tree-dotted field less than a 20 minute drive outside Bedford is Warden Abbey, a remarkable fragment of a once-great Cistercian monastery. With a red-brick barley twist chimney proudly reaching for the heavens, it is an exquisite setting from which to enjoy the benefit and inspiration of country landscape.

Read co-organiser of the exhibition Christiana Payne’s blog about her research process here


ARTIST ROOMS – Richard Long: Drawn from the Land, Derby Museum and Art Gallery

Until 4 March; give what you think
Less than a 35 minute drive from North Street in Cromford, Derbyshire

Considered one of the most important artists of his generation, Richard Long makes art based on the action of walking in the natural landscape. Since the 1960s he has created works in remote regions all over the world, each documented by photography or words. Concerned about the interaction of man and landscape, he has used maps, the drawn line, and photographs in a radical re-thinking of art and landscape.

Derby Museum host an exhibition drawn from the ARTIST ROOMS collection, offering the opportunity to consider Long’s work within the context of the great Peak District landscape.

The Museum is perhaps most famous for its collection of Joseph Wright of Derby paintings, brilliantly displayed in a dedicated gallery. On permanent display include several portraits of the pioneering inventor Sir Richard Arkwright, and a newly acquired painting of his revolutionary mill in the nearby Derbyshire town of Cromford. As a mass producer of yarn, Arkwright employed hundreds of workers - for whom he built the first industrial housing in the world: North Street.


Virginia Woolf: An Exhibition Inspired By Her Writings, Tate St Ives 

10 February - 29 April; 50% off entry for National Art Pass holders
Less than a 20 minute drive from Lower Porthmeor, a remote hamlet with three Landmarks near Zennor, Cornwall

Virginia Woolf, pioneering feminist author and founding member of the famous 20th-century Bloomsbury Group, visited Cornwall throughout her life. She spent long childhood summers exploring the rugged coastlines from her mother’s holiday home in St. Ives, and regularly returned as an adult. The dramatic landscapes remained a constant source of inspiration for her work, examples include her modernist novels To the Lighthouse and The Waves.

This spring, the newly refurbished Tate St Ives celebrates Woolf’s remarkable literary legacy by drawing together an exhibition using her writings as a prism through which to celebrate those that she, in turn, has influenced.

Less than eight miles away from St Ives –a 20-minute drive, or a two and a half hour walk along the South West Coastal path - lies the hamlet of Lower Porthmeor. In this picturesque spot are three Landmarks, just slightly inland from the coastline, from which you enjoy scenery such as that Woolf herself enjoyed.


Superstructures: The New Architecture 1960 – 1990, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts

24 March – 2 September; 50% off entry for National Art Pass holders
Less than a 35 minute drive from Manor Farm in Pulham Market, Norfolk

In 1978, the first public building designed by the (now) world-renowned architect Lord Norman Foster opened. A pre-fabricated modular structure formed around a steel framework, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts remains an innovative and celebrated building to this day. Situated on the edge of the University of East Anglia (UEA) campus in Norwich, it houses an exceptional collection of art from across the globe.

To mark its 40th anniversary, the Sainsbury Centre hosts a major exhibition about the developments in architecture from the 1960s to the 1990s, examining the post-World War Two fascination with new technology, lightweight structures, pioneering building techniques and innovative engineering solutions.

Just 35 minutes away is Manor Farm – an opportunity to travel from the 20th century to the 16th century, and not just to examine, but to inhabit, the architecture of a traditional thatched and timber-framed farmhouse, complete with magnificent moulded beams.


Damien Hirst at Houghton Hall: Colour Space Paintings and Outdoor Sculptures 

25 March – 15 July; adults £18, concessions available
Less than a 15 minute walk from Houghton West Lodge, which is situated within the Houghton Hall grounds in Houghton, Norfolk

From March, Houghton Hall in North Norfolk, one of the finest 18th-century country houses in Britain, will host a major exhibition of works by Damien Hirst. Houghton was built for Sir Robert Walpole (Britain’s first Prime Minister) and designed with his significant art collection in mind.

Hirst, sculpture, painter and designer with a flair for publicity and a knack for controversy, will show a new series of artworks inside the Hall, in addition to some of his most famous sculpture across both the Hall and gardens.

Hirst’s Colour Space paintings (a development of his iconic spot paintings) will hang on the walls of William Kent’s famous gilded interiors, creating a potentially stark contrast between the historical splendour of the rooms and the works. Such contrast may emphasise that the great country houses of the eighteenth century, although now frequently deemed historical objects were, when first built, themselves sometimes considered controversial icons of jarring modernity.

Great houses such as Houghton, each grand theatrical show palaces, have long histories as popular tourist destinations - which continues to this day, with Houghton West Lodge situated only a short walk away in the park, to the west of the Hall.


Prized Possessions: Dutch Masterpieces from National Trust Houses, The Holburne Museum

25 May – 16 September; 50% off entry for National Art Pass holders
A 10 minute walk from Marshal Wade’s House in Bath, Somerset 

Established in 1822, The Holburne Museum in Bath was the city’s first public art gallery, and today is home to a rich collection of fine and decorative arts. In an exhibition co-organised with the National Trust, some of the finest Dutch paintings from country houses across the UK will be displayed together for the first time.

Celebrating the Golden Age of Dutch painting, Prized Possessions will examine the enduring British taste among country house owners for collecting Dutch paintings, plus how and why this style of art was commissioned and displayed. Masterpieces on display will include Rembrandt’s entrancing Self Portrait, Wearing a Feathered Bonnet.

The city of Bath has long been considered a metropolis of fashion, sculpted in part by the sophisticated elegance of its Bath Stone architecture and its depiction in well-loved literature. The Holburne Museum today occupies the former Sydney Hotel building, which once served the Sydney Gardens - a favourite walking spot for Jane Austen, and the only remaining 18th-century pleasure gardens in the country. Austen set part of her novel Northanger Abbey near Sydney Gardens on Great Pulteney Street, a short walk along which is Bath Abbey - and Marshal Wade’s House.

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