Posted: 21/01/2012 20:40:01 by Nigel Nixon

ONE of the most important collections of watercolour paintings in the world is heading our way.

More than 40 works from the exquisite holdings of Sir Hickman Beckett Bacon (1855-1945), an avid collector of English watercolours between 1895 and the First World War, will be on show at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, from January 12 until April 14.

Now owned by Sir Nicholas Bacon, the precious paintings will be loaned to the Kendal gallery for its next exhibition - Turner and his Contemporaries: The Hickman Bacon Watercolour Collection.

Abbot Hall chief executive Gordon Watson was thrilled at the prospect of the eminent display, which should have the eyes of the nation’s arts world focused on the important regional gallery.

In fact, a fitting time to stage such a grand show as Abbot Hall celebrates a half century since its opened its celebrated doors.

Gordon added: “Fifty years ago on September 28, 1962, Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret officially opened the gallery and since then Abbot Hall has established itself as one of the most significant and ambitious galleries in the north of England.”

Rarely aired in public, the collection will be shown alongside highlights from Abbot Hall’s own permanent collection of watercolours.

Sir Nicholas said that he was delighted to be able to lend the paintings to Abbot Hall.

He continued: “My great uncle Sir Hickman Bacon (Hicky) had unusual tastes for his time and thus the collection is very strong in the type of late, ethereal Turner watercolours that only became widely popular with the advent of abstract painting in the 1940s and 50s. Equally, John Sell Cotman, an artist who had only just emerged from total obscurity, was of particular interest.

“Hicky’s collection represents English watercolour painting at its greatest; like so many collectors he was not interested by the fashion of the day, but he was committed to collecting those objects which fulfilled his heartfelt love of beauty.”

Born in 1855 into a family of landed gentry, Sir Hickman was educated at Eton. He joined the army, later returning to his old-fashioned family mansion. He suffered from ill health early in his life, and remained a bachelor until he died in 1945. He also collected fabrics, wall hangings, ceramics and Japanese prints – a collection he gave to the Japanese Government.

Abbot Hall collections manager Nick Rogers said that an exhibition of watercolours from the ‘remarkable’ Hickman Bacon collection was a cause for celebration wherever it was held. He added: “That it is taking place in Kendal, Cumbria, is particularly appropriate, as this is an area that played a significant role in the development of watercolour as the medium of choice for the itinerant artist in the late 18th and early 19th Century.”

Tagged with: kendal, watercolour, artwork


Posted: 03/06/2011 10:10:31 by Nigel Nixon

ZANY Steven Hall is urging people to vote for him after he performs in front of millions of TV viewers on Britain’s Got Talent tonight.

The 53-year-old telecommunications engineer will represent Cumbria when he takes to the stage for the live semi-final with a new dance routine.

Having taken the nation by storm with his eclectic two-minute act, which saw him perform a dance to The Birdy Song, The Macarena and The Twist, he has become an overnight success.

He has gained more than 1.5 million views on YouTube and more than a thousand fans on his official Facebook site.

So, what has he got lined up for the biggest performances of his life tonight?

“It was said: ‘How am I going to follow that?’ Because the element of surprise has gone,” he said.

“So I have taken what everybody said they would expect me to do next and not done it.”

Life has changed for the Burneside Amateur Theatrical Society member since he gained three ‘yes’ votes from Amanda Holden, Michael McIntyre and David Hasselhoff, and a standing ovation from the Liverpool crowd.

“It was the second best experience of my life, but I can’t tell you the first one,” he jokes.

“Since then, it has been so busy I haven’t had time to think about it.

"I have been to London several times for interviews and rehearsals.”

Having performed in theatres across the Lake District, Steven set up Comedy Showtime two years ago, a five-person act that puts on performances across the region.

From this, a 10-minute dance evolved which came to form the basis of his BGT audition.

If Steven is successful tonight, he will make it through to Saturday’s live final.

If victorious in the final, he will perform in front of The Queen at The Royal Variety Performance and win £100,000.

“I am nervous and confident about tonight,” he said.

“Nervous because Simon Cowell is back on the show and he is held in such anticipation about what he has thought of the acts that have gone through while he’s been away.

"But I am confident of my routine. I’m looking forward to it.”

Tagged with: MAN, SINGER, TALENT, KENDA


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