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Contemporary Art Society: Damn braces: Bless relaxes

11 April 2014 - 27 June 2014

Conceived in collaboration with the Contemporary Art Society and Whitechapel Gallery as part of their programme to open up public and private collections.

With work by John Constable and William Blake, this exhibition represents scenes of the English east coast from the past 200 years. Artworks consider the influence of technology and local art schools and are drawn from the collections of Contemporary Art Society member museums and galleries in the region.

The display’s title is taken from William Blake’s The Proverbs of Hell, from his illustrated poem The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (c 1789) and a copy of Blake’s Illustrations to the Book of Job owned by poet Lord Alfred Tennyson is on show here, complemented by a recording of Tennyson’s written descriptions of the Lincolnshire countryside.

From the early Norwich Society of Artists (1803–1833) to the progressive Time-Based Art course in Hull during the 1990s, artists and students have looked to the local landscape to express their ideas. John Sell Cotman and Peter De Wint see it divided by landowners and industry in the 19th century, while Fran Cottell and Simon Poulter look at the privatisation of land during the Thatcher era. Their responses make a case for freedom of movement through use of medieval common land law and more recently an open source ‘creative commons’ culture online.

This exhibition originated at the Whitechapel Gallery, London and is one of a series of displays exploring the theme of art and philanthropy. It is conceived in collaboration with the Contemporary Art Society by Arts Council-funded Curatorial Fellow Helen Kaplinsky supported by the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull.

For over 100 years, the Contemporary Art Society has encouraged an appreciation and understanding of contemporary art by donating works to museums and public galleries across the UK. These displays draw on the collections of Contemporary Art Society Member Museums.

John Constable, Cloud Study, 1821, oil on paper, pasted onto oak panel, 23 x 30.2 cm. Courtesy Ferens Art Gallery, Hull Museums

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