Silicon Spa: Video games in Leamington
Friday 27th January 2023 - Sunday 8th May 2023
More people than ever play video games, whether casually on their smartphone or as an immersive, social experience. But few people realise that here in Royal Leamington Spa we are surrounded by games developers who have helped to shape the life of the town for more than 30 years.
Leamington is the centre of one of the oldest and largest clusters of video games companies in the UK, making a significant impact on the global stage and employing some 2500 people. They work in all kinds of roles, from concept art to coding, and sound design to community engagement.
This exhibition will trace the history of the gaming industry in Leamington and the surrounding area and give a glimpse into the working lives of games developers.
Friday 7 October 2022 – Sunday 8 January 2023
We are delighted to present the Open 2022, an exciting exhibition providing a showcase for artists living and working in the West Midlands. Last seen in 2019, the Open has been a regular and popular feature of Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum’s (LSAG&M) programme since the 1930s. Open 2022 is sure to be an eclectic mix of artistic forms, with previous Opens featuring, amongst others, sculpture, photography, installation pieces, computer generated imagery and textiles.
An independent panel of judges will select artworks for exhibition and the winner of the Open 2022 Award. They will receive £1,000, a Spotlight exhibition at Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum and an opportunity to talk about their work at a Friday Focus talk. Visitors can vote for their favourite artwork, which will receive the People’s Choice Award of £500.
Open 2022 winner - 'Playlist' by Mark Elsmore
“Listening to music, deep in thought. The Playlist she is hearing is the soundtrack of her life.”
I was in Vienna with an aim to paint architecture, but it was impossible not to notice the young woman looking so interesting and painterly.
I spotted her from a distance, she was sitting outside a church. She seemed lost in her thoughts, but getting closer I noticed her red boots tapping to the rhythm of the beat from her earphones… Lost in music?
She was a tourist like me, enjoying the sunshine. I tentatively asked if she would mind me taking a couple of photos for a possible painting. Bemused she shrugged her approval. The spell was broken as soon as she looked up but eventually I managed to get her to resume the original pose.
I worked on the painting back at home.
Her likeness is good.
I’ve altered a few things to help the narrative. The image is quiet, a good contrast to the lively sounds and thoughts within her head. I’ve changed her hair a bit to suggest a breeze and give an almost ethereal feeling. I’m trying to capture more than a still image.
I have a theory that the music you imagine she is listening to will colour your own thoughts about her story.
People's Choice Award Winner - 'Moment of Inertia' by Gavin Bowyer
I love the joy of mark making and the importance of ‘good drawing’. Although I enjoy creating portraits using a systematic process of intense looking and finding precision through searching and adjustment, it’s fundamental that I have an emotional connection with my subject. ‘Moment of Inertia’ is one such example and it is, to date, my largest pencil and graphite portrait drawing. I realise people who see the portrait up close may have a view of what the image represents to them, and I truly love that. In fact, the drawing captures one of the many evenings shared with my family during a Covid Lockdown. I’m sure many visitors to the gallery will recognise something in themselves during that time or even just the simple act of laying on a bed, so exhausted, you begin to drift.
At this time, I had been preparing compositions and subject matter that would suitably record a unique global event to a very personal level. My family has always provided inspiration and an abundant opportunity to draw realistic, vivid, and poignant moments. On this occasion, I had wandered into my daughter, Lydia’s, bedroom to find my wife, Jayne snuggled in a ‘comfy cosy’ state on her bed watching a PlayStation game. Although this was a common occurrence in our home at that time, I was particularly struck by the dramatic effect the light of the bedside lamp was playing on her face, hands, hair, dressing gown and pillow. Moreover, I loved her profile and the way her head rested on tangled hands and the folds of the leopard skin pattern dressing gown. Jayne can be seen transitioning from consciousness to sleep, and in a final effort not to disappoint Lydia, she tries to watch the game. Something about the composition and context rang true to me. It froze at that point in time, and I took three quick photos to record Jayne’s moment of inertia during another day in lockdown.
When I received the email, I sat in disbelief. I was shaking with joy. Is it true? I am Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum Open Exhibition 2022 ‘People’s Choice Award’ winner? Wow! Wow! Wow! What a shock. What an honour. What a moment to stop you in your tracks. I had to phone those closest to me to read the email to them to double, triple and quadruple check it was correct. Their shared joy and euphoria confirmed it somewhat, but I have to say it still doesn’t quite feel real. This buzz of excitement and happiness feels odd, and I love it. To be voted the ‘People’s Choice Award’ Winner, 2022 is the first art prize I've ever won. Well almost, I did win 3rd prize at primary school for a 'Design a Programme Cover' for the Leek and District Agricultural Show, 1979. So, to be the Leamington Spa Art gallery & Museum Open 2022 'People's Choice Award' Winner, 2022 is a huge honour. I am truly humbled for this award, especially to everyone who voted for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support. I can’t believe this is real. What a wonderful way to end 2022.
Furthermore, I am so grateful to everyone who visited and voted in this beautiful exhibition in such an incredible unique venue. Your support for the arts, the exhibition and the community are vital at this critical time. For me there’s no debate, the arts have never been so important to our society and should be fully integrated into our lives, our community and education in general. Art makes life more manageable, tolerable, and enjoyable. For this, I would just like to thank everyone involved in organising the exhibition and being invited to be part of it. I know my closest family members have enjoyed visiting and have loved the range of styles and themes of all the artists exhibiting this year.
Initially, before the exhibition was open to the public, I was so happy the art curators and selectors decided to include my portrait of Jayne in this year’s wonderful diverse open exhibition. Leamington Spa wasn’t a place I had the pleasure of visiting before, so I was really looking forward to experiencing the Gallery and Museum and site seeing the beautiful parks and shops. My family and I weren’t disappointed and agreed to Leamington Spa, what a lovely way to spend a day. Beautiful architecture, history, and cultural scene. So, to see my portrait hanging alongside such a talented and diverse range of artists was incredible. So much artistic talent was on show and to be included was a proud moment for me personally as well as my family. I loved the intimate setting of the exhibition and wonderful Pump Rooms. I hope I can exhibit again next year.
Modern Pre-Raphaelite Visionaries: British Art 1880 - 1930
Our summer blockbuster exhibition ‘Modern Pre-Raphaelite Visionaries’ offers you the chance to rediscover a host of ‘forgotten’ British artists working at the turn of the twentieth century.
Artists include Frederick Cayley Robinson, Evelyn Pickering De Morgan and Charles Ricketts. These artists sought to understand their place in the changing modern world by re-examining the nostalgic and romantic art of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The exhibition is a rare opportunity to see the Gallery’s important collection of Modern Pre-Raphaelite artwork in the context of significant loans from around the country including works from Tate, the British Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Manchester Art Gallery and many more. Spirituality, symbolism, legends, and folklore fill the remarkable paintings and drawings on display in what is the first exhibition to explore this fascinating period of British art.
Outgrowing: Flowers and female artists, 1700 to now
This exhibition explores the reasons why female artists and designers have so often been associated with flowers.
Throughout history female artists have been encouraged to focus on flower painting, and often excluded from other subjects. Despite these limitations, many women made significant, often radical contributions to art and science through their study of flowers. Others built successful careers at a time when women still struggled for acceptance in the workplace. Flowers continue to be source of inspiration for contemporary female artists and are still often seen as a feminine subject matter.
Works on display range from stunning 18th-century still-life paintings and pioneering botanical drawings to intricate Victorian crafts and modern artistic experiments with colour and light. The exhibition is a chance to see important loans from major collections such as the Royal Academy, the Courtauld Gallery and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It also features works by local artists and designers from Elizabeth Whitehead to Jennie Moncur.
This exhibition is generously supported by the Finnis Scott Foundation
Image: Elizabeth Whitehead, Peonies, 1928, Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum.
Location: Main Gallery
I:DNA is a touring art installation and represents a journey though the lives of families affected by inherited genetic conditions. As artists working with Dr Felicity Boardman it is not our role to position ourselves but to ask questions and to bear witness to the impact of our changing world and to reflect the narratives of human experience. I:DNA draws on the metaphor of the airport departure lounge from which we embark with a ticket for an unknown journey through life. The DNA helix sculpture with its luggage suggests the genetic ‘baggage’ that we all carry. The helix is unravelling, weighed down by the baggage. Its arms trail across the ground. The use of polished aluminium suggests the contemporary age of technological advance and the everyday objects are both familiar and strange when seen out of context. The stories of ordinary people are told with gentle simplicity in song and spoken word. Their courage is quietly moving, the colours of the whole installation evoking the joy and pain of the human experience.
Picture of Health: Art, Medicine & the Body
Location: Main Gallery
This re-hang considers how artists have explored the relationship between art, medicine and the body.
The last year and a half has thrown a spotlight on our experience of illness and well-being. Using Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum's collection of artworks with a medical theme, this display seeks to explore what it means to be healthy in 2021.
Listen to this exhibition's audio guide here.
Edmund de Waal, Watershed, 2010, © Edmund de Waal Courtesy of the artist. Photograph Michael Harvey
Coventry Biennial 2021: HYPER-POSSIBLE
8 October 2021 - 9 January 2022
HYPER-POSSIBLE brings together newly commissioned projects and existing artworks from national collections, creating an opportunity to look back at what has made the local area unique, while also reflecting on an increasingly complex global situation.
The exhibition references the radical nature of our area’s history while also signifying a positive way forward following a deeply difficult 2020 and 2021. The exhibition explores the legacies of artist-led networks, activisms and pedagogies that have emerged from and through the local area since the 1960s. These mark the region as an outstanding exemplar of innovative, experimental and radical artistic practice.
This exhibition is generously supported by: UK City of Culture 2021, Arts Council England, Coventry City Council, Art Fund, Warwick District Council, Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, Arts Council Collection, British Council, Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, Soft Opening, University of Warwick.
For information on the full Coventry Biennial 2021 programme, please visit: www.coventrybiennial.com
Image: Hugh Richard ‘Dick’ Hosking’s Warwickshire Landscape c. 1965
Location: Temp Gallery
Modern Mercia: Post-war art in Coventry and Warwickshire 1945-1970 explores the rich variety of architecture, art and design produced in Coventry and Warwickshire after the Second World War, and the context in which it appeared.
Changing political priorities and the economic downturn of the 1970s saw the waning of the post-war optimism that had supported such a widespread programme of public art. In the following years, appreciation and understanding of the significance of the art and architecture produced in this period has lessened. Some of the public sculpture, particularly in Coventry, has fallen into disrepair and is under threat from re-development. This exhibition hopes to highlight the importance of the post-war art and design produced in this region and encourage visitors to recognise and re-engage with the public art around them.
Making Histories: New Responses to the Ceramics Collection
After being postponed for several months and available online only, the Making Histories exhibition is now open!
Seven contemporary ceramic artists from the across the Midlands have been invited to respond to Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum’s diverse collection of ceramics. Rupert Brakspear, Dylan Bowen, Rhian Malin, Michelle Taylor, Rose Wallace, John Wheeldon and Jon Williams will show their work alongside some of the historical objects which inspired them, from Roman kitchenware to Regency tea-sets.
To view the dedicated online exhibition page, please click here.
Cornelia Parker: One Day This Glass Will Break
December 2019 - 1st March 2020
A collection of Cornelia Parker's hauntingly beautiful photogravure etchings.
One Day This Glass Will Break is an exhibition of Cornelia Parker’s hauntingly beautiful photogravure etchings. Parker was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1997 and has become one of the UK’s best known visual artists with work in many national collections. The prints on display are the result of her recent experiments in photography and printmaking. They will be shown
alongside items from Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum’s large and world renowned collection of glassware acquired from Francis Jahn in the 1950s.
ARTIST ROOMS: DIANE ARBUS
20 September – 1 December 2019
Diane Arbus (1923-71) is considered one of the great figures of American photography. She pioneered the photographic
approach that bridges the gap between documentary and fine art, through her commitment ‘to photograph everybody’.
The works in the exhibition are drawn from the ARTIST ROOMS collection. ARTIST ROOMS is a collection of international modern and contemporary art jointly owned by Tate and National Galleries of Scotland. Please see the ARTIST ROOMS website for more information www.tate.org.uk/artist-rooms.
#humansofleamington is a series of photographic portraits of people who live and work in Royal Leamington Spa, inspired by the ARTIST ROOMS: DIANE ARBUS exhibition. The portraits, in the style of Arbus’ work, unpick and explore the themes of self-identity and self-expression.
To celebrate the launch of the exhibition, we have commissioned, with the support of our young Ambassadors, a series of 30 portraits of local creatives, which will feature online and in and around Leamington Spa’s Old Town and Town Centre from late September until 5 December 2019.
Tell a friend: