The first half of this top ten was quite a struggle to put together as I thoroughly enjoyed my visits this year. So, to decide on a top 5 was even harder, but here goes:
Picasso-Dali; Dali-Picasso at Museu Picasso, Barcelona
I have been so lucky this year with the travelling and the fact that I am getting to see some fantastic art is the icing on the proverbial. Barcelona was my very first solo trip and, as if by magic, the Museu Picasso decided to put on a very special exhibition of two of the greatest artists of the 20th Century. Certainly have the travelling bug again and trying to decide on Madrid or Florence for the next one.
LS Lowry and Theodore Major: Two Lancashire Artists at The Atkinson, Southport
I am a late convert to Lowry and do like him more, but when he was up against the might of Theodore Major, there was very little he could do except paint his ‘little matchstalk men’. Major was an incredible force with an output rarely matched.
Now this is a strange one as I’m not remotely interested in pottery and ceramics but I went last year to see two paintings that they had on display by the artist who reignited my teenage interest in art. Maurice Wade was born in the Potteries and his works are quite simply sublime. Two years ago, the museum had two on display, one of the factory itself and one of a round house and when I went to see them, I was disappointed to find that they had been placed high up on a wall at the end of the exhibition, with no labels.
This summer, I was passing by after visiting my number 3 choice and decided to drop in on my Wades to see if they had been labelled up and to my sheer delight, I found not two Wades but five! There are the original two: Powerhouse and Workshop and North Round House and then there are three large works on one wall: South Facade, Canal at Longport III and Scotia Brook at Trubshaw in the centre. I loved Canal at Longport III – it actually made me cry it was so beautiful. Quite simply, a perfect moment! I am not posting pictures of these as they can only really be appreciated in person. Think there may be another visit in the offing very soon and I’m still going to whizz past the ceramics!!
The Sensory War at Manchester Art Gallery
I have a real fascination with war art along with my studies in war poetry and thought this was an incredible exhibition – a great way to start 2015. I liked it so much I bought the catalogue and while reading it on the train home, discovered that I had missed part of the exhibition!!! Was also thrilled to discover so many Nevinson paintings in this exhibition.
And at Number 1
Truth and Memory at The Imperial War Museum
I did struggle to decide which of these two I placed at number one. The IWM just made it to my top spot due to the way it was presented. The beginning section gave a taste of the ‘old’ style of war painting: patriotism, daring bravery, justifiable sacrifice, but then we were thrust into the new world. The works on display had such power to move, to challenge and to view war, from the horror of trench warfare to the grief felt by those left at home. This can be summed up with the George Clausen painting, Youth Mourning, which was unbelieveably moving and it made me see just how grief can take everything from you in an instant. Having experienced a deep and profound loss recently, I can see even more in this painting than I did before. The rawness of the pain is beautifully represented in Clausen’s work.
This work was truly breathtaking and it was the reason I wanted to go back the following day to see this exhibition again. The soldier’s decaying body was captured by Gilbert in such expressive detail. I desperately wanted to move his feet out of the mud!
It has been an incredible year for me in terms of exploring and searching out new artists, making connections and learning a whole new language. Makes you wonder what 2016 could have in store!