Now - Sun 01 Jan 2023


10:00 - 17:00


£0.00 - £12.00

This exhibition is drawn from the Sherwin Collection, arguably the most important privately-owned collection of British Surrealism. The collection has now found a permanent home at The Hepworth Wakefield, greatly enhancing Wakefield’s holdings of Surrealist art.

In 1986, an exhibition at Leeds Art Gallery was Jeffrey Sherwin’s first encounter with British Surrealism which, in his own words, ‘made me return and look again and again’. For Jeffrey and his wife Ruth, it inspired a lifetime of collecting Surrealist works of art and related archive material.

Surrealism originated in Paris in 1924 with poet André Breton announcing his Surrealist Manifesto, ‘I believe in the future resolution of these two states, dream and reality, which are seemingly so contradictory into a kind of absolute reality, a surreality.’ During the 1920s, British artists such as Eileen Agar, Roland Penrose, and John Banting spent time in Paris, meeting Surrealist artists and developing their own unique Surrealist style. Surrealist exhibitions appeared in Britain from the early 1930s, and in 1936 the first International Surrealist Exhibition was held in London with Henry Moore as part of the organising committee and a poster designed by Max Ernst. Fractured by the start of the Second World War, British Surrealism became a loose network of artists.

The exhibition will feature paintings, collage, works on paper, ceramics and sculpture by artists including Eileen Agar, John Banting, Max Ernst, Henry Moore and Roland Penrose. Works on display will reflect the collection’s strengths in holdings by British Surrealists such as Conroy Maddox, and Desmond Morris, who brought Surrealism into the 21st century, as well as female surrealists who are only now receiving much-deserved recognition such as Leonora Carrington, Ithell Colquhoun and Edith Rimmington. The show will also highlight key aspects of British Surrealism; the engagement with tumultuous political events, and fantastical visual explorations of subconscious desires.

The exhibition title is taken from a quote by George Melly, jazz musician and Surrealist, with which Jeffrey opened his 2014 book, British Surrealism Opened Up. Jeffrey’s own words on his collection will be incorporated within the gallery interpretation to convey the passion with which this remarkable collection was built. The show will be arranged to reflect the densely hung Surrealist exhibitions of the 1930s and 40s, as well as the salon-style manner in which Jeffrey and Ruth installed their collection in their Yorkshire home.

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