Down from London: Spencer Gore & Friends Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

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The Coral Necklace by Harold Gilman
The Coral Necklace by Harold Gilman ©RPMT

Down from London: Spencer Gore & Friends

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Extended until Spring 2022

In the summer of 2019, with the generous help of Patrons and Members, we were able to acquire Spencer Gore’s wonderful painting of 1913, The West Pier, Brighton.  This now forms the centrepiece of a new exhibition about the Camden Town Group of painters in the Fine Art Gallery at Brighton Museum.

The group was founded in 1911 by Spencer Gore and his friends Walter Sickert (featured in a major retrospective at Tate Modern next year) and Harold Gilman.  Many of its 16 artists lived in north London and their work brought a fresh, new modernity to English art with its innovative use of light and colour, influenced by late Impressionist and Post-Impressionist French paintings.  They also introduced new, modern themes, depicting urban landscapes, working lives and music hall entertainment.

In December 1913, the group held its last and only exhibition outside London here in Brighton.  Walter Taylor, an amateur artist and occasional patron of Sickert and other Camden Town Group artists, invited Spencer Gore to stay at his Brunswick Square house in the summer of 1913.  He introduced Gore to the Council’s Fine Art Committee who invited him to organise the Exhibition of the Work of English Post Impressionists, Cubists and others held at Brighton’s Public Art Galleries (now Brighton Museum & Art Gallery) in December 1913.

Whilst not all of the paintings and drawings displayed in the Fine Art Gallery were in the 1913 exhibition, each of the artists represented took part.  Only male artists were allowed membership of the Camden Town Group, but a small number of women artists were invited to show.   More avant-garde work by so-called Cubist or Vorticist artists was also included in the exhibition, which the Brighton Herald described as “far and away the most challenging thing of the kind that Brighton has ever seen.”  “Don’t go to this exhibition after a bad night” commented another reviewer.

The vibrant works in the current display show reveal the new approaches of the Camden Town Group artists and explore the story of the landmark 1913 exhibition.  The Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust has a fine collection of work by the Camden Town Group, and this memorable exhibition is perhaps best recorded by the Town Council’s purchase of one of the exhibits, Robert Bevan’s The Cabyard, Night, the first and only painting by the artist to enter a public art collection during his lifetime.

Exhibition runs until Autumn 2022 in the Fine Art Gallery at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.

Free with Brighton Museum admission, members and residents free

About Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, part of Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust, is one of Britain’s oldest public museums.  Located in the Royal Pavilion Estate at the heart of the city’s cultural quarter, the collections showcase arts and crafts from across the world and history from Ancient Egypt to modern Brighton.

Admission fee payable, Brighton & Hove residents free

Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton BN1 1EE Tel 03000 290900

Open Tue-Sun 10am-5pm, Closed Mon (except Bank Holidays 10am-5pm)
Contact information for press and media

For further information, images or interviews please contact Caroline Sutton on caroline.sutton@rpmt.org.uk or 01273 071296.

For urgent enquiries in my absence please contact marketing@rpmt.org.uk or 03000 290906.