The British family has long been a challenging and popular subject for artists – and these themes will be depicted in a new exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle running until September.
Works by David Hockney, William Hogarth and Thomas Gainsbourgh are some of the artists featured in Family Matters: the Family in British Art, which is part of the Great British Art Debate.
The show’s themes: – Inheritance; Childhood; Parenting; Couples & Kinship; Home – are portrayed through film and photography, painting and sculpture representing the changing face of the British family.
Julie Milne, curator of the Laing Art Gallery, says: “Family means something to everyone but conjures up different images and emotions for each individual. Family Matters will offer a fascinating insight into changing cultural identities and family values over the centuries.
“With the events and activities programme which is scheduled to run alongside the exhibition, we hope the Great British Art Debate will provide opportunities for visitors to engage in what family means to them.”
The contrast between external appearance and reality can be traced across a number of the works by artists including Thomas Gainsborough and Johann Zoffany, British contemporary artists Richard Billingham and Rachel Whiteread, as well as international artists; Thomas Struth and Zineb Sedira.
The exhibition does not shy away from the harsher realities of everyday family life, with artists capturing domestic relations, class divisions, intimate human relationships and objects within the home. Family Matters offers an insight into the change in cultural identify and family values since the sixteenth century – and is likely to provoke a range of emotions and responses.
Cllr. Ged Bell, Chair of Tyne & Wear Joint Museums & Archives Committee, says: “It’s very exciting to see the North East being involved in a partnership such as this Great British Art Debate project. The North East, as well as the rest of the UK has a wonderful artistic heritage which powerfully illustrates our sense of who we are and the Great British Art Debate is designed to encourage people to take part in an important debate about Britishness.”
The Great British Art Debate is a partnership project between Tate Britain, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service and Museums Sheffield, and works of art from all four of the partner galleries will be on show, alongside items from national, regional and private collections, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Council of England’s Renaissance programme. Supported in Newcastle by the Exhibition Partners of the Laing Art Gallery.
The Laing Art Gallery is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sundays from 2pm to 5pm. Admission is free. For more details visit www.laingartgallery.org.uk or find the Laing on Facebook , Twitter and Flickr.