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: 19/07/2011 11:06:21 by Nigel Nixon

ORGANISERS of the Lake District's 11th annual air extravaganza, taking place on July 23 and 24, have revealed their display line-up.

The Windermere Air Festival kicks off on the Saturday with the breathtaking acrobatics of the Breitling Wing Walkers, performing a sequence of manoeuvres and handstands whilst strapped to the top wings of the team's Boeing Stearman biplanes.

First day visitors will also be treated to the RedHawks' air show act with a slow, gentle and graceful four-minute, three-dimensional aerial ballet performed to soothing music by a pair of 42 year-old, wooden, high-efficiency aeroplanes, designed by French musician, artist, ceramicist and sculptor Réné Fournier.

Another Saturday highlight will be the RAF Falcons parachute display team, now in their 50th year.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will grace the skies above Windermere on both days with special flights from the Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster Bomber.

The RV8tors will be flying their remarkably fast Vans RV-8's with powerful smoke systems, performing an exciting and memorable display.

Combining close formation aerobatics with speeds up to 230 mph, the display makes large manoeuvres that fill the sky and leave big smoke trails.

Also appearing at the festival will be the RAF Tucano and the RAF Hawk.

Both spectacular in their own right the Hawk display team will demonstrate the professional excellence of the RAF while the Tucano display consists of 21 manoeuvres including an offset barrel roll, stall turn, oblique loop and reverse wingover.

On Sunday, the Twister Duo will create a display of formation barrel loops, rolls and gravity defying zoom climbs.

The highlight of the weekend is set to be the renowned ambassadors of the RAF and everyone’s favourite – The Red Arrows.

Having missed last year's Lakeland air show, the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, have been confirmed to headline 2011's festival.

Appearing at the air festival is a welcome return for Squadron Leader Graeme Bagnall.

Graeme, who is Red 10, is the team’s commentator and on the ground safety supervisor.

He was educated at nearby St Bee’s School, in Cumbria.

Mr Bagnall said: “We are really looking forward to displaying at Windermere.

"It’s a stunning location and will definitely be a highlight of the display season for me.

"I can’t wait to meet the crowd when I’m on the ground at the show doing the commentary for the Team.

"You get a real buzz from seeing how the audience reacts to the displays.”

The RAF Red Arrows have been wowing audiences since their first season in 1965, they have flown over 4,000 displays in 52 countries.

Today the Red Arrows are renowned throughout the world,acting as ambassadors for Great Britain when displaying overseas.

They also support UK industry by demonstrating the capabilities of British equipment and expertise.

Lucy Bennett, a director of the air festival, said: "It’s such a coup for us to host the Red Arrows this year.

"They put on such a fantastic display and really add some excitement to the programme.

"The highly acclaimed displays are filled full of twists, turns, drama and excitement - they are definitely not one to be missed."

Attractions on the ground at the Air Base include the military village, battle re-enactments and flying simulator, new kids have-a-go activities plus face painting, circus skills, music and great local food stalls.

The Windermere Air Festival 2011 takes place on Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24. The Air Base is located on the Glebe in Bowness-on-Windermere. For further information, click on the website below.

Tagged with: show, Winderemere, air


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