Detail of marquetry

The Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle is delighted to announce the opening of a new exhibition to mark the 60th anniversary of David Hockney’s prolific career as a printmaker.

Hockney, Printmaker, which opens on Saturday 7th June, will present over 60 works by the Yorkshire born artist, charting a print career which began in 1954. It was a career furthered almost by accident when he discovered that the printmaking department at London’s Royal College of Art gave out free materials; a boon for the impoverished, working class student.

Focusing on Hockney’s two main print techniques – etching and lithography – the exhibition, curated by Richard Lloyd, Head of Prints at Christie’s, gives an informative, enlightening and entertaining overview of the artist’s graphic career to date, while revealing the thought processes and technical expertise underlying the works.

The show includes well known works such as A Rake’s Progress – Hockney’s first major etching project – modelled on William Hogarth’s eponymous set of prints; his Weather series and Swimming Pool prints.

“Hockney has an international reputation of quality and is probably the greatest living print maker,” said Emma House, The Bowes Museum’s Keeper of Fine Art. “A Rake’s Progress very much pays homage to Hogarth – it is Hockney making the print medium revered again in the same way in which Hogarth did.”

The show, which runs until 28th September, will also comprise portraits of some of Hockney’s famous sitters and friends, including his muse, the fashion designer Celia Birtwell. Later works will feature a selection of prints created using photocopiers, plus examples of his computer drawings including Rain on the Studio Window – a forerunner to his celebrated iPad works.

The exhibition, which will be complemented by a series of gallery talks, is part of the International Print Biennale, the biggest printmaking event in the UK, which runs from June to August 2014. See for details or follow on Twitter #IPB14.

Hockney, Printmaker has been organised by Dulwich Picture Gallery with The Bowes Museum. 

To commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War, students from Northumbria University have produced an exhibition – Changing Times - inspired by clothing of the era.

The students, from the university’s acclaimed BA Hons Fashion Design and Marketing Programme, explored and researched historical trends from the period, collating images and information from combat design and camouflage, in order to produce a range of designs that reflect the era in a contemporary way.

Colour, surface decoration, texture and silhouette were all considered, whilst students reflected upon the traumas of the trenches alongside a quickly changing Edwardian society at home.

Fabrics have been printed and surface decoration applied to fabric in order to present a selection of men’s and women’s wear inspired by this memorable period in history.

“We are delighted to be continuing our links with Northumbria University and to be showcasing the work of these talented students in our award winning Fashion & Textile Gallery,” said Hannah Jackson, the Museum’s Assistant Curator of Fashion and Textiles.

The Fashion & Textile Gallery will also display items from The Bowes Museum’s collection, worn between 1914 – 1918, with local connections to Teesdale and Newcastle.

The students’ work is on display at The Bowes Museum from 14th June until 31st August 2014.
A competition to redesign the 22-acre garden and grounds at The Bowes Museum has been won by Arabella Lennox-Boyd, who was among three
internationally renowned designers invited to submit plans for the £3m project.

Their brief was to create a garden to complement the Grade 1 listed building and its outstanding collection of fine and decorative arts. The design needed to be exciting for horticulturalists, cater for the wide range of visitors of all ages, and reflect the botanical importance of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where rare flowers such as the Blue Gentian grow.

The entries were uniformly excellent but Arabella Lennox-Boyd’s winning plans 'dazzled' the judges. The masterplan includes a parterre with shallow canals, a pergola, rose covered pavilions and stepped banks topped by pleached limes to frame the French style Museum. The design also includes a contemporary café, a horticultural therapy centre and a verdant play area with wide-scale trees, shrubs and herbaceous planting to provide horticultural interest throughout the year.

Peter Millican, a Trustee of The Bowes Museum and head of the judging panel, said: “I am extremely excited about the creation of a wonderful new garden. The Arabella Lennox-Boyd design is not only stunning but offers something for everyone and will continue to develop over the years, as all good gardens should. Her design complements both the Museum and the vision of its founders John and Joséphine Bowes.”

The other judges echoed his enthusiasm. Journalist and author, Christopher Stocks said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for The Bowes Museum to really raise its game, not only for its extraordinary building and remarkable collections, but for its gardens too. This will make it a first among British museums and is a brilliant way of encouraging other galleries to be more ambitious about their settings and surroundings.”

Clare Foster, Garden Editor, House & Garden magazine added: “With international garden design on the ascendant, it seems the time is right for such an exciting project and the Museum's stunning and unusual architecture deserves an equally striking landscape to complement it.”

An exclusive new exhibition, Shafts of Light – Mining Art in the Great Northern Coalfield, opens at The Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle on May 17th; a celebration of and a salute to a once essential and powerful industry now almost consigned to the annals of history.          

The exhibition - which features around 70  paintings, including works by renowned mining artists Norman Cornish and Tom McGuinness – vividly illustrates the working environment of coalminers through their own interpretation of life in and around the North East of England, allowing the viewer to experience through the artists’ eyes the severe working conditions and social climate of the time.                              

Over half the paintings to go on show are part of the vast Gemini Collection of Robert McManners and Gillian Wales, who are curating the exhibition. Their award winning book, Shafts of Light, after which the exhibition is named, has been reprinted to coincide with the opening of the show. The book  documents the work of over 70 artists – both amateur and professional – all of whom gained inspiration from the might of the colliery.

While coalmining was considered an honourable profession on the continent, the miner being seen as a noble toiler against Mother Earth and depicted as such in 19th Century European art, it was a different story in England. Here the terrible working conditions of the collier were hidden from public gaze. While formal commissioned images of mines do exist from the 18th Century, experiential mining art didn’t appear here until the 1920s with the likes of Gilbert Daykin, George Bissill and Vincent Evans.

“In the North East, the home of the Great Northern Coalfield and the powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution, it wasn’t until the inception of the Spennymoor Settlement and later the Ashington Group in the 1930s that vernacular mining art began to blossom,” said the curators.

“Miners felt they had something to say about their arcane world about which no one was speaking and they said it with pride and dignity through their art,” they added. There was a danger that this important aspect of coalfield heritage would be lost from living memory. This was the catalyst that inspired us to begin collecting mining art - our Gemini Collection. Now consisting of over two hundred items, our aim is that at some point in the future our collection will be on permanent public display.

In subsequent years the movement prospered and many of the region’s most celebrated contemporary artists, like Cornish and McGuinness, derive from their collier roots. Many of these artists were full time pitmen who still found the time and energy to permanently record their experiences in paint.

However, many professional artists like Graham Sutherland and Josef Herman who are also represented in the exhibition, produced their own body of work in an artistic celebration not found in other industries.

Also on display will be miners’ banners courtesy of Durham Miners’ Association, portraying the rich history of the pit communities. Depicted on the Chopwell banner are Lenin and Marx, while others represent Durham Miners’ support groups from the cataclysmic strike of 1984 (specifically women’s groups) and the famous Durham Miners’ Gala Day parade.

“It’s wonderful that we are able to show something with such a regional interest and regional pride, thanks to the efforts of Robert and Gillian,” said Emma House, the Museum’s Keeper of Fine Art.

The exhibition opens on Saturday 17 May and runs until Sunday 21st September 2014.

A fascinating display on Victorian hunting, horse breeding and racing, assembled by volunteers from the Archive and Library, has opened at The Bowes Museum

The hunting section marks the 150th anniversary of the deaths of Robert Smith Surtees, the hunting novelist, and his illustrator, John Leech.  Surtees was a lawyer and Durham squire whose rough, tough comic novels set in the world of crooked horse dealers, rascally servants, and city girls on the search for moneyed country bumpkins were enormously popular with the Victorian public.  They include such memorable titles as Jorrocks’s Jaunts and Jollities and Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour.  Their success was at least as much owing to the wonderful illustrations – many of them in colour – by John Leech as to the stories themselves. Leech was famous as a frequent contributor of comic scenes of everyday life and political cartoons to Punch, but also illustrated Dickens and many other writers of the day.

The rest of the exhibition is devoted to the Museum’s founder John Bowes and his passion for the turf.  His Streatlam Stud produced many famous horses, including four Derby winners.  One of them, West Australian, only raced three times in a single year and won each time.  He thus became the first horse ever to win the Triple Crown (Guineas, Derby and St Leger). 

Bowes was a well-known figure in racing circles, both in England and France, where he was a leading member of the Jockey Club.  It was not all plain sailing, however! – his name was linked with a famous betting scandal, the story of which will be told in the display.

The display is in the John and Joséphine Galleries, and will run for a year. Entry is included in the admission cost to the Museum; accompanied children under 16 admitted free.

The Bowes Museum is delighted to announce a major boost to its award winning Fashion & Textile Gallery, thanks to the support of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

The grant of £180,693 will allow the Museum to employ an Assistant Keeper of Fashion and Textiles, plus a Textiles Conservator, both of whom will play a vital role in expanding the curatorial and conservation work of the gallery.

Working alongside Joanna Hashagen, the Museum’s Keeper of Fashion & Textiles, the pair will assist in staging iconic exhibitions - for which the gallery has earned a glowing reputation – as well as conducting research and contributing to the essential management of the existing collection and any future acquisitions.

They will play significant roles in the care of items, including the internationally important Blackborne Lace Collection - donated to the Museum in 2006 by the descendants of Anthony and Arthur Blackborne, who were master lace dealers in 19th century London. A stunning lace collar from this collection, reputed to have belonged to King Charles I, was among eight items of lace loaned for the In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, earlier this year, viewed by over 134,000 visitors.

“This was particularly pleasing, as The Queen’s Gallery is known as the place where the Royal Collection is displayed; they do not normally borrow from other collections,” said Mrs Hashagen. 

Working closely together, the post-holders will select and prioritise items for display in the Fashion & Textile Gallery, taking into account historical importance while weighing up conservation needs. This will give greater access to parts of the collection which have never before been on show to the public. They’ll also work towards rotating the displays, both for the benefit of visitors and for conservation reasons. In addition, opportunities will be created for teaching and research, as well as the offering of support to other regional museums without such provision.

“In establishing these posts the Museum, with this generous support from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, is investing in the future of a gallery which since its opening in 2010 has become the leading one of its type in the UK,” Mrs Hashagen added. 

The gallery - which represents the wide range of the collection, including dress, European silks, tapestries, embroidery, lace and quilts, housed in glass cases which can be viewed from all sides – is both spectacular, using the latest display ideas and materials, and serious, by ultimately providing easy access to study the collections.

The displays illustrate the use of textiles in fashionable dress and historic design from the 16th to the late 20th Century.


A new and exclusive exhibition aimed at families opens at The Bowes Museum on Saturday 21st June 2014.

Offering up a flavour of childhood in the reign of Queen Victoria, Victorian Childhood explores the way in which young lives were lived during this era depending on the social class each was born into. Using items from the Museum collection, it will focus on the ephemera of pieces from daily life.

Curated by the Museum’s Education Coordinator, Amy Bainbridge, the exhibition is divided into various themes including:

Queen Victoria – currently the longest serving monarch, who reigned over the British Empire, which at its height ruled a quarter of the world’s population.

Home life – Wealthy families had little to do with their offspring in their formative years, employing wet nurses, nannies and servants to oversee their upbringing. Children from rich families tended to be ‘seen and not heard’, presented to their parents for just a short time each day; while poorer children shared beds with parents and siblings as well as outside lavatories and water pumps with their neighbours. Although country folk were less well off than their town counterparts they often had a better quality of life, with clean air, and could expect to live longer.

School and work life – at the start of the Victorian era there were no laws forcing children to attend school, with education seen as a privilege for the rich, particularly boys, and working class families often unable to afford the penny a day needed to send a child to school. In 1891 education became compulsory and free for those aged 5-10 years, but there were sometimes 70-80 pupils per class, while the children of the wealthy were tutored at home by governesses. It was the norm for children from poor backgrounds to start work at a very early age to supplement the family income, but they were paid a lot less than adults for the same job.

Clothes – elaborate clothes for the well-to-do were made to measure by seamstresses and tailors, with children dressed formally in miniature versions of adult styles.  Poorer children wore hand-me-downs, often of dark material so as not to show dirt, and often had no shoes. However, both rich and poor children tended to have a special set of clothes kept specifically for Sunday best.

Play and leisure – this was one area enjoyed by families regardless of circumstances. In the home families made their own entertainment with musical instruments, by singing songs, reading aloud or simply talking. Outdoor entertainment saw the rise in popularity of Victorian theatres and music halls, while the opening of many galleries and museums, including The Bowes, introduced ordinary people to the wider world of art. Cheap railway transport also meant families could access the seaside for the first time. Victorian children from poorer backgrounds often played on the streets with homemade wooden toys, hoops, marbles and skipping ropes, as there was far less traffic and no television or computers, while well-to-do youngsters enjoyed toys of their own including dolls and lead soldiers.  

The exhibition, which includes items from Beamish Museum, opens on Saturday 21st June, running until Sunday 7th September 2014.


A crowdfunding campaign conducted by The Bowes Museum earlier this year proved so successful that it sparked international interest across the Museum world and resulted in aiding the Art Fund set up its own new fundraising platform.

The Museum initially turned to the growing trend of crowdfunding – which involves pooling individual pledges from people eager to support projects they’re keen to adopt - via the online platform Kickstarter, and in doing so managed to raise and surpass its target sum.

The resultant publicity prompted museums and organisations to contact the Museum’s project coordinator, Alison Nicholson, to learn more about the rudiments of raising money via this funding phenomenon. Mrs Nicholson also hosted a visit by Art Fund staff; a collaboration which has contributed to their setting up a way of supporting museums with their own online crowdfunding platform Art Happens, and to five museums around the UK attempting to each fund their own project. The benefits to museums and galleries of using Art Happens to crowdfund their projects are that the Art Fund will not be charging a fee like many other platforms, and the donations will be eligible for Gift Aid.

The Bowes Museum now plans to channel its latest fundraising campaign using the new Art Fund platform, which launches on Tuesday 17 June, to raise the £21,000 required to sympathetically redisplay The Passion Altarpiece and reveal the hidden secrets on its reverse. Promotion of the campaign will be through a combination of support from the Art Fund, the use of project ambassadors and the Museum’s existing digital and traditional marketing activities.

The altarpiece is made up of six oil-on-panel paintings by Master of the View of St Gudule (active c 1465-1500), and intricate wooden carvings by the Brussels Sculptors’ Guild, forming a sequence that tells of the arrest, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

If successful, the project will fund research into how the piece would originally have been displayed; the construction of a new frame and bespoke stand, raising it to the required height for an altarpiece; some conservation of the carvings, and new, more meaningful interpretation.

The project also proposes to give access to the paintings currently hidden from view by allowing the shutters to be opened and closed to reveal the six paintings on the reverse, of St Anthony, the family of Zebedee and the four fathers of the church, along with the signature mallet marks of the aforementioned Guild.

“The conservation and redisplay will give visitors a greater understanding of the piece and its significance to the Museum’s early religious art collection,” said Mrs Nicholson. “I’m really excited about being involved in the first round of museums using the Art Fund’s new crowdfunding platform. It will be an amazing achievement to reveal and reunite our 15th century altarpiece and return it to its former glory. I really hope the public will donate to help make it happen.”

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: “Building on the Art Fund’s historical success and recent experiments in digital crowd-funding, we are keen to use the tide of public engagement with museums to bring supporters ever closer to new, live museum projects. Through Art Happens anyone can be a patron as well as beneficiary of the arts. It’s the start of a new chapter for UK museums in terms of both public fundraising and public participation.”

Rewards for pledges, which can be any amount from £5 to £1,000, will include a range of great products and exclusive behind the scenes access to the conservation studio, picture stores, archives and VIP tours with the Director and other Museum staff.

To make a donation to this exciting project visit from Tuesday 17 June.

The four other museums to take part in Art Happens are: Compton Verney, Warwickshire; the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, Shropshire; Jerwood Gallery, Hastings; and St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff.

A super new exhibition, coupled with a wealth of family oriented workshops, makes for a fun packed summer at The Bowes Museum.

Victorian Childhood, which runs until 7th September, depicts what life was like for children in the Victorian era. Objects enable visitors to compare the differing lifestyles of rich and poor children through key themes: what they wore, school, work, play and home life. The exhibition is interactive and includes costumes, craft activities and games, and best of all it’s free for accompanied children under 16!

A varied programme of workshops and family fun days runs throughout the school holidays, starting with Making Music* from 22nd – 25th July, featuring a different instrument each day. Booking is required on 01833 690606. 

The Toys from the Past!  Family Fun Day on 29th July is a drop in day which includes storytelling from the ever popular Adam Bushnell, making a simple jack-in-the-box, decorating a spinning top and creating  a cup and ball game.  

Workshops* from 30th July – 1st August involve making a felt Teddy Bear to take home. Sessions are morning and afternoon and must be booked in advance. Separate Robots workshops* are also taking place on these dates, with a chance to try a variety of robot-themed crafts. Booking is also essential for these sessions. 

Printing for Families, on 4th August, takes a look at the current David Hockney exhibition before creating a simple block print with artist Vicky Holbrough in this drop in workshop, while Miner Banners! the following day, also drop in, explores the current Shafts of Light exhibition before making
a banner like those of the miners in the paintings. 

Weaving Wonders* is the title of fun craft workshop sessions on 7th and 8th August, followed by Delightful Dollies* sessions on 12th August and Moving Toys* on 14th and 15th August, with booking required.       

Treasures of the World* – 18th, 20th, 21st & 22nd August – involves trying craft activities linked to different countries around the globe. Each date relates to a different country – Italy, Holland, France and Greece. Again, booking is required.

A drop in family fun day on 19th August centres on Victorians, with writing practise using pen and ink and slates, making peg dolls, creating a shadow puppet, proddy mat making and a themed trail around the Museum.

Silk Painting* workshops on 26th and 27th August offer morning and afternoon sessions, giving the opportunity to create a silk painting inspired
by the Museum collection, while Collagraph Printing* rounds off the holidays with sessions on 28th and 29th August devoted to learning the delights of this technique. Booking is required for all these sessions, and children must be aged 7 and over to participate inthe latter. 

Drop in workshop sessions are free for children, who must be accompanied by an adult for whom normal admission applies. 

Workshops marked with an * are charged at various rates for children, who must be accompanied by an adult for whom there is no charge for
the event. The workshops have different timings so contact the Museum or check our website for full details.