Works by Ben and Winifred Nicholson will be displayed publicly for the first time in a new show celebrating their ‘art and life’ at Dulwich Picture Gallery in June.

Dulwich Picture Gallery will present a major exhibition this summer including previously unexhibited or rarely seen early work by two of the UK’s most important 20th Century painters, Ben and Winifred Nicholson.

Focusing on the couple’s prolific output during their ten-year marriage it is the first show to consider their work in the context of a “unique narrative of artistic influence and friendship” with contemporaries Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis and William Staite Murray, says the gallery.

“Ben and Winifred Nicholson were at the forefront of the Modern British movement and produced some of the most memorable works of the period.

“Curated by Jovan Nicholson, grandson of Ben and Winifred, Art and Life: Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis, William Staite Murray, 1920 –1931 offers a rare opportunity to see the couple’s parallel views of the same landscapes, seascapes, still-lifes and portraits.

“Grouped by location, the show focuses on their time spent painting in London, Lugano, Switzerland, Cumberland and Cornwall and features work throughout by the artists they encountered and painted alongside.”

The exhibition presents over 80 works, 15 of which are being displayed publicly for the first time, including Ben’s c. 1926-27 (still life) and Winifred’s Flowers in a Glass Jar.

During their ten year marriage the couple often painted the same subject, Winifred as a colourist, Ben more interested in form. Ben’s 1924 (first abstract painting, Chelsea) and Winifred’s King’s Road, Chelsea were painted at the same time in Chelsea and highlight this difference in approach.

Curator Jovan Nicholson says: “It has been a surprise and delight to unearth so much new material and the exhibition includes many works that have not been seen in a museum before.

“I have curated the show to create dialogues between juxtapositions of pictures and so reveal the affinities between the artists – this is most evident in the section on Cornwall where Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson and Christopher Wood each responded to the meeting with Alfred Wallis in different ways.

“It was particularly pleasing to find two paintings by Alfred Wallis that belonged to Christopher Wood.

“For me it has been an enduring and deepening pleasure to come to know my grandparents work more closely. “Most importantly I hope the show will bring much pleasure and enjoyment to the viewers.”

Throughout the 1920s Ben and Winifred’s approach was influenced by fellow artists and friends; Christopher Wood, who befriended the couple in London and who later stayed with them in Cumberland, the self-taught marine painter Alfred Wallis who the trio then chanced upon in St Ives and the potter William Staite Murray who exhibited with Ben and Wood from 1925 onwards.

Ben and Wood often painted the same landscapes and their paintings of Northrigg Hill, painted between 1928 and 1930 in Cumberland, will be displayed alongside Winifred’s earlier painting of the same scene for the first time.

Wood later worked with the couple in Cornwall where he stayed in a cottage close by; his love for Cornwall can be seen in Pill Creek, Feock, Cornwall which also receives its first museum showing in this exhibition.

Although the joint painting trips finished in 1928, Wood continued to paint and his growing interest in surrealism towards the end of his life is seen in the striking The Parachute and Zebra (1930), which he painted days before he took his own life in 1930.

A chance meeting in 1928 with Alfred Wallis in St Ives enhanced Ben and Winifred’s consideration of seascape, movement and proportion.

Again the artists painted side by side, taking inspiration from Wallis’ exquisite paintings made from pieces of old crates and boat paint.

Works such as The Schooner the Beata, Penzance, Mount’s Bay and Newlyn Harbour and Four Luggers and a Lighthouse provide a fascinating contrast to the group’s oils and drawings.

Throughout the show, ceramics by the avant-garde potter William Staite Murray will be displayed alongside the artists’ paintings and drawings, including Cadence and Persian Garden.Inspired by the Nicholsons in his approach to aesthetic pottery, his works are as much influenced by their art, as their paintings are by his pots.

The exhibition is curated by Jovan Nicholson, an art historian who has worked on various projects with the Henry Moore Foundation, the Barbican Art Gallery and the Russian Museum, St Petersburg.

Loans have been secured from major national collections including Leeds Art Gallery, Kettle’s Yard, Tate, York Museums Trust, National Gallery of Scotland, Brighton and Hove Museums; and important and rarely seen works from a number of private collections.

A major full colour catalogue accompanies the exhibition, comprised of essays by Jovan Nicholson, Sebastiano Barassi and Julian Stair, published by Philip Wilson Publishers.  It will present archival photographs, the majority unpublished and coming from private collections.

Ben Nicholson (1894–1982) was born in Denham, Buckinghamshire, and was the son of the artists William Nicholson and Mabel Pryde. He studied at the Slade School of Art, 1910-11. He married Rosa Winifred Roberts in 1920, with whom, for the next fifteen years, he would form a mutually influential partnership. Even after their divorce in 1938 they continued a lively correspondence exchanging ideas. During this period he began painting figurative and abstract works inspired by Post Impressionism and Cubism. He produced his first geometric and abstract reliefs in 1933. His work came to be seen, with Henry Moore’s, as the quintessence of British modernism.
Winifred Nicholson (1893-1981) was born in Oxford as Rosa Winifred Roberts. She was the granddaughter of George Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle, an amateur painter and friend of the Pre-Raphaelites. She studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art, and married Ben Nicholson in 1920 shortly after a visit to India. Winifred is best known for painting flowers, which she used to convey her ideas about colour. By the late 1920s she was widely respected in the London art world, with solo exhibitions at the Beaux Arts Gallery in 1927 and the Leicester Galleries in 1930. After her marriage with Ben Nicholson came under strain she moved to Paris in 1932 and befriended and collected a number of Parisian artists, including Mondrian, Gabo and Hélion.

Listings Info:

Title: Art and Life: Ben Nicholson, Winifred Nicholson, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis, William Staite Murray, 1920 – 1931
Exhibition dates: June 4th 2014 – September 21st 2014

Tickets (pre-book online):
Full Price £11 (£10*)
Senior Citizens £9 (£8*)
Unemployed, disabled, students £6 (£5*)
Children and Friends Free
Audio-guide: £3

*Indicates price without gift-aid


“Brunel did not just build the world, he invented it. And he built it, he changed it, from south east London”
Professor Robert Hulse, Director of The Brunel Museum, London

Professor Robert Hulse is the latest speaker in Dulwich Picture Gallery’s ‘Contextual Lecture’ Series, and will present Isambard Kingdom Brunel: The Man who built the World at the gallery on March 25th.

The lecture will explore how the great engineer changed the world paying particular attention to his first and last projects in London.

Britain’s most daring engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859) is often thought of as a Bristol man, but he always lived in London. His first project aged 19 years was the Thames Tunnel, where he worked with his father on what was first dubbed ‘the Eighth Wonder of the World’.

In this lecture, Hulse will reclaim Brunel for London, explaining why his first and last projects in the capital are key to understanding everything he did.

“Brunel was the quintessential Promethean engineer who changed the world we live in” says Robert Hulse.

“His first project, the Thames Tunnel, has changed the shape, very essence of the cities we live in.

“His last project, the Great Eastern, changed trade and the shape of the world.

“Everything he did, he did with flair and showmanship. In everything he did, he worked beyond the parameters of established practice. “He was truly making it up as he went along.”

Isambard Brunel is one of 20 iconic figures discussed in Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Contextual Lecture Series 2014 which explores some of the most significant people who have changed the world.

The series continues throughout the year with pre-eminent specialists exploring the lives of key figures in history, philosophy, politics and religion as well as some of those who made ground breaking innovations in science and technology.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel: The Man who Built the World is at Dulwich Picture Gallery on 25 March 2014. All lectures will be held from 10.30 – 11.30am on Tuesdays throughout the year, in the Linbury Room.

Booking/ further information:
For more information about the series, please visit
Tickets cost £10 (£9 for Friends)
Tickets are available in advance online and on the telephone and there will be some availability on the door for each event on a first come, first served basis
For more information please contact Lettie McKie, Public Programmes Manager / 0208 299 8732
(Source: Dulwich Picture Gallery press release)


This Easter Southwark is inviting everyone to flex their creative muscles at Kingswood House in Dulwich.

Whether families are looking for fun holiday activities, or young people want a chance to show off their artistic flair – there will be a free opportunity for everyone to create giant drawings, play with an interactive light and film installation, write their life stories in thread and even eat their own artwork.

The Kingswood Draw is a free, one day event at Kingswood House in Dulwich taking place on Thursday April 17th. The event will see the beautiful and historic grade II listed house transformed into four laboratories, giving everyone the chance to play, draw, eat and connect whilst making art.

On arrival at the event visitors will take a turn on the giant spinning wheel which will decide for them which path to follow and which ‘art lab’ they will start their Kingswood Draw journey from.

The Drawing Lab will host artist Ivan Liotchev and the International Collaborative Drawing Project, giving visitors the chance to contribute to giant canvasses which will be displayed in and around the Kingswood Estate.

The Playing Lab will host artist Jaygo Bloom and choreography from Carl Campbell Dance Company 7, inviting visitors to use movement to draw with light and film. Dance, jump even hopscotch your way across the room to generate unique colours and patterns on the walls, ceiling and floor.

The Eating Lab will host artist Patrick Bullock and invite visitors to get messy with their food! Creating sweet or savoury art work that will be good enough to eat!

The Connecting Lab will host artist Julia Vogl’s evolving sculpture. Using coloured thread visitors will be invited to share ideas of home and identity, weaving around one another and growing into a web of ideas by the end of the day.

The event produced by Emergency Exits Arts for Southwark council, is a collaborative art project led by artist Ivan Liotchev and the residents of Kingswood estate.

Lead artist Ivan Liotchev said: “The Kingswood Draw is going to be a brilliant day for kids and adults. “You will not only get to experience great art but you’ll get to make it yourself.

“The house is a spectacular venue for us to work in and we are excited to be bringing an event combining all of these elements to one venue – drawing, dance, live music to enjoy, as well as games and art you can eat will all be under one roof. “We hope it’s the highlight of the school holidays.”

Cllr Veronica Ward, Southwark’s cabinet member for culture, leisure, sport and volunteering said “We are really looking forward to holding such an exciting and innovative arts and culture event at Kingswood.

“The house, which is also home to Kingswood library, will be a refreshingly different setting for residents to experience culture in Southwark.

“I hope that it gives lots of our residents, whether with family or friends, a great opportunity to get creative and do something different this Easter.”

On Thursday April 17th the event will run from 2pm until 8pm. With opportunities beforehand to get involved through free open workshops with Ivan on Saturday April 5th and Saturday April 12th from 12 pm to 4pm.

Booking for open workshops is not necessary. For more information on the event visit

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