CONTEMPORARY craft artists have come up with a modern take on Berwick’s historic Burrell Collection.
The five women have created new artworks – now on show in the market town’s Granary Gallery – inspired by the famous treasure trove of paintings and artefacts built up by wealthy shipping magnate Sir William Burrell.
The philanthropist, who died in 1958, collected art from around the world and while most of it was later donated to his home city of Glasgow, Berwick – the closest town to his baronial residence at Hutton Castle – benefited from around 50 paintings, among them works by Degas, and 300 decorative items.
This Burrell Collection, featuring other masters such as Eugene Boudin and Jacob Maris as well as ancient Roman and Venetian glass, Japanese Imari pottery and Ming porcelain, is housed in Berwick Museum & Art Gallery where it makes up the most important art collection in public ownership in Northumberland.
With the help of the recently- established Berwick Visual Arts, the collection is to be exhibited at the Granary Gallery over the next three years, with the first themed display – focusing on The Hague School, 19th Century Glasgow painters and Berwick-inspired works – showing from now until December 16.
With so much on tap to celebrate, the idea was to expand the focus by inviting local artists to create contemporary responses to the beautiful pieces.
And the resulting five commissioned pieces, featuring print-making, jewellery, textiles and ceramics, can be viewed at the same time alongside the Burrell Collection exhibition.
The artists from across the region – Bridget Jones, Morag Eaton, Mandy Pattullo, Bronwen Deane and Helena Seget – each researched a number of works in the collection before picking one to interpret in her own way.
Their choices include a 17th Century painting, one from the 19th Century, Chinese blue and white Ming porcelain and a 15th Century woodcarving.
Print-maker Eaton, who’s from Berwick itself, re-interpreted the medieval imagery of the latter – a wood-carving called St Barbara with Tower – by placing the saint in today’s world, in the medieval tower on Berwick’s walls to be exact.
Fellow print-makers Pattullo, who has a studio in Tyne Valley where she’s also a textile artist interested in recycling, and Northumberland- based Jones, who also works in glass, produced, respectively, stitched drawings of flowers and birds, translated from the porcelain imagery; and a print inspired by a coral bracelet seen in 17th Century painting The Lady in Black. Deane was similarly impressed by the porcelain and, for her part, the Newcastle-based jewellery designer used traditional silver techniques alongside experimental acrylic print methods to capture different sections of the flora and fauna imagery.
Porcelain, meanwhile, is the stock-in-trade for Seget who is also based in the city where she uses it in her Ouseburn studio to make jewellery, furniture, clothing and even stationery.
This time she experimented with porcelain clay shapes to capture the look, flow and feel of cool, fresh linen as it appears in the painting Washing Day by Jacob Morris.
A series of limited edition multiples of these imaginative new pieces will be available to buy (priced from £60) during the exhibition’s run at the Granary Gallery in Dewars Lane which opens Wednesday to Sunday, 11am-5pm. Admission is free.
James Lowther, head of Visual Art, said: “We couldn’t be more pleased with the commission results.”