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Watercolour in Britain: Tradition and Beyond

JMW Turner, Kirkstall Abbey, Moonrise Colour Study, c1800-5 (detail) © Tate, London
Thursday 17 June 2010 - Sunday 5 September 2010

Watercolour paintings have become shorthand for a comforting, conservative world view, rooted in the Englishcountryside, championed by Prince Charles, and largely rejected by the contemporaryart scene.

It wasn't always so. Watercolour in Britain illustrates the remarkable diversity of a truly British art form and show that watercolour has been used by many different cultures over the centuries, each with their own ideas about art, expression and technique. Featuring rarely seen paintings by artists including JMW Turner, William Blake and Edward Burra, this exhibition looks at watercolour's iconic status in our cultural heritage before asking 'where next?'

From sculptors such as Henry Moore and Anish Kapoor, to Surrealists like Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland, Watercolour in Britain showcases those artists who have pushed the boundaries of its potential.

Watercolour in Britain: Tradition and Beyond is the latest exhibition as part of the Great British Art Debate at Museums Sheffield. A four year collaboration with Tate Britain, Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, the project explores identity through national and regional art collections.

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  • William John Stevenson, River Don at Wardsend, Sheffield, 1875 © Museums Sheffield
  • Unknown artist, View of Sheffield from Sharrow Moor, c1838 © Museums Sheffield
  • Thomas Creswick, Hillsborough, Sheffield, c19th century © Museums Sheffield
  • Maurice de Sausmarez, Lodge Moor in the Evening, Sheffield, 1941 © the artist's estate
  • Mandy Payne, Paradise Lost © the artist
  • Jonathan Wilkinson, The Egg Box © the artist
  • JMW Turner, View of Sheffield from Derbyshire Lane, 1797 © Guild of St George & Museums Sheffield
  • Jack Kettell, Rebuilding a Blast Furnace, 1964-65 © the artist's estate
  • Henry Rushbury, Snig Hill from Angel Street, 1941 © the artist's estate
  • Derrick Greaves, Sheffield, 1953 © Derrick Greaves, courtesy James Hyman Gallery, London
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