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National treasures go on loan to UK galleries in 2022 through the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund

From exquisite watercolours by the Pre-Raphaelites to costume designs by Isabel Rawsthorne, world-class art and objects are being borrowed by museums across the UK for the latest round of forthcoming exhibitions supported by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund.

Created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund, the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund is the first UK-wide grant programme designed to directly fund smaller museums to borrow outstanding works from major lending museums and galleries.

This sixth round of the programme is supporting exhibitions at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden, Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village in Compton, the Wessex Museums Trust and Tŷ Pawb in Wrexham.

Some of the loans supported will allow treasures to be seen for the first time outside their original collections, including 13 costume designs by Isabel Rawsthorne for the 1953 Royal Opera House production of Strauss’ opera Elektra, which have never been displayed before beyond the Royal Opera House. The Many Sides of Isabel Rawsthorne opens in May at The Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden and will contextualise the gallery’s own holding of Rawsthorne’s pictures with these designs and two further Rawsthorne paintings, together with Giacometti’s sculpture, Head of Isabel II, from the Sainsbury Centre. The grant from the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund covers the special conservation, mounting work and transport required to make these loans possible.

Also opening in May, the multi-site exhibition Hardy’s Wessex is being presented by Wessex Museums Trust and will feature many personal objects of Thomas Hardy, some of which have never been on public display before, including loans from the British Library, the Fitzwilliam Museum and the V&A. At Tŷ Pawb in Wrexham, Tales from Terracottapolis will celebrate Wrexham’s significant heritage of brick, tile and terracotta manufacture, with artefacts and artworks loaned from Leeds Museums & Galleries, Kate MacGarry gallery and the Henry Moore Institute.

Works loaned from the Ashmolean’s world-class collection will illuminate George Frederic Watts’s deep connection to the Pre-Raphaelites in Watts Gallery’s exhibition Pre-Raphaelite Treasures: Drawings and Watercolours from the Ashmolean Museum. At Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, Pre-Raphaelite Visionaries will invite visitors to rediscover a host of artists seen as Pre-Raphaelite Revivalists working at the turn of the twentieth century.

Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft will explore the influences and connections between Ditchling and Japan through the work of japanese potter, Shōji Hamada. The exhibition Shōji Hamada: A Japanese Potter in Ditchling will feature illuminating items from Stoke Potteries, Aberystwyth University Ceramics Collection, Southampton City Art Gallery and Winchcombe Archive, among others.

The exhibitions supported in this round are:

  • The Many Sides of Isabel Rawsthorne at The Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden, from 7 May to 30 October 2022.

  • Hardy’s Wessex at Wessex Museums Trust, from 28 May to 30 October 2022

  • Pre-Raphaelite Visionaries at Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, from 13 May to 18 September 2022.

  • Shōji Hamada: A Japanese Potter in Ditchling at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, from October 2022.

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