Towner Eastbourne reopens with major John Nash exhibition

John Nash: The Landscape of Love and Solace will run from May 18-September 26, 2021 – a celebration of one of the most versatile and prolific artists of the 20th century.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 6:10 am
Men in the fields - John Nash
Men in the fields - John Nash

The Landscape of Love and Solace opens at Towner and travels to Compton Verney from October 23 2021 to January 2 2022.

Towner director Joe Hill said: “In a career spanning more than seven decades, Nash produced work across a range of mediums, from iconic oil paintings, now housed in some of Britain’s most important collections, to accomplished wood engravings, line-drawings, lithographs and watercolours.

“Combining acute observation and a strong individual vision, his oeuvre includes many of the finest depictions of the British landscape created in the 20th century. Often overshadowed by his brother and fellow artist Paul Nash, John Nash has not been the subject of a major exhibition since the Royal Academy’s retrospective exhibition of his work in 1967, which at this time was also an unprecedented honour for a living Royal Academician.

“Nash was one of a small number of artists who were official war artists in both the First and Second World Wars. An artist who did not have formal art school training, he was greatly respected by his contemporaries, particularly for his production of one of the most highly regarded paintings of the Great War, Over the Top,1918, now in the Imperial War Museum Collection.

“He is also now renowned for his ‘thanksgiving to survival’ of the Great War, The Corn Field, 1918, which features in this exhibition along with a range of other First and Second World War-era works.”

Loans in this exhibition are supported by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund. Created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund, the Weston Loan Programme is the first ever UK-wide funding scheme to enable smaller and local authority museums to borrow works of art and artefacts from national collections.

“Nash was a comic illustrator of note and was also a keen plantsman, creating gardens from the 1920s onwards, developing into arguably one of the 20th century’s greatest botanical artists. Renowned in the horticultural world as a judge at Chelsea Flower Show, he also passed on these skills through his teaching at the Royal College of Art and Flatford Mill in Suffolk. A wide range of these botanical works will be seen for the first time in this exhibition, a chance for audiences to see Nash’s oeuvre at its most broad.”

Sophia Weston, trustee of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said: “We are delighted that the Weston Loan Programme has been able to support the display of these important paintings by John Nash in both Eastbourne and Warwickshire – bringing this artist’s work to new audiences and dedicating a major exhibition to him for the first time in over 50 years.”

The Landscape of Love and Solace has been co-curated by Andy Friend, independent curator and Sara Cooper, head of exhibitions and collections, Towner Eastbourne and organised for Compton Verney by Penelope Sexton, Senior Curator, Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park.

Sara Cooper, head of collections and exhibitions, Towner Eastbourne, added, “Bringing this exhibition to Towner Eastbourne will be a highlight of our 2021 programme. Drawing on such a vast body of work made over a lifetime of creating, from an artist whose practice captured such a great range of landscapes and drew on such a range of inspirations - from the botanical to the political to the personal - the exhibition allows audiences many entry points to delve into the story of John Nash”

The Landscape of Love and Solace will contextualise the artist’s life and work within the history of the 20th century, and in particular via his key relationships, including Christine Kuhlenthal, who later became his wife. Works will also be presented from friends and peers including Edward Bawden, Peter Coker, Charles Ginner, Spencer Gore, Harold Gilman, Cedric Morris, Eric Ravilious, and Carel Weight.