23 May 2021
Art & Action:
Making Change in Victorian Britain
Temporarily closed - Extended until 23 May 2021
Friends free | Under 18s free
Please note that pre-booking for timed admission is essential for all visitors
Can art change the future? In the nineteenth century, Victorian artists, viewers, and critics increasingly began to believe it could. Opening online on 17 November 2020 and in person following lockdown, Art & Action: Making Change in Victorian Britain will be the first exhibition to focus on the Victorian roots of art activism. From the 1840s, as issues of poverty, hunger, and disease all became increasingly urgent in industrial Britain, artists began to question how their work could benefit society. From major Academy oils to Arts & Crafts designs, Art & Action explores how artists sought not only to comment on social problems, but to use their art to actively help solve them. Often working in conjunction with social movements, Victorian artists were at the frontline of reform efforts. Featuring key works by Sir Luke Fildes, William Morris and G F Watts, the exhibition explores how, in the Victorian era, art came to be recognised as a powerful tool that could enact social change, improve lives and ultimately shape the future.
Art & Action: Making Change in Victorian Britain is co-curated with Dr Chloe Ward, Senior Lecturer in the History of British Art at Queen Mary, University of London.
Image credits: G F Watts, Found Drowned, oil on canvas, 1848-1850 Watts Gallery Trust Collection. Thomas Kennington, The Pinch of Poverty, oil on canvas, 1891. Coram in the care of the Foundling Museum, London. www.museumofthehome.org.uk.
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