Sanctuary exhibition at Garden Museum

The golden age of garden painting between the two world wars will be celebrated in a new selling exhibition at the Garden Museum, presented in partnership with Liss Llewellyn.

Sanctuary: Artist-Gardeners 1919-1939 will show over 20 artists including Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilious, Charles Mahoney, John Nash and Winifred Knight.

During this ‘peaceful’ period between the world wars, we find an exceptional number of artists who gardened, taking their horticultural activities as seriously as they took their art. These two pastimes often became entwined and more artists were painting gardens and plants than at any other time.

After World War One, many artists were finding sanctuary and inspiration in painting their gardens, depicting private, sheltered scenes. The reaction to the trauma of that war also saw a return to idyllic, pastoral landscapes.

Charles Mahoney shared his unbridled enthusiasm for plants with Edward Bawden, Geoffrey Rhoades, John Nash and Evelyn Dunbar who swapped cuttings with each other by post. Dunbar, along with Mahoney and Nash, even produced books on the subject. And most of Harry Bush’s oeuvre evolved around painting and repainting his garden in the south west London suburbs.

Highlights of the exhibition include Mahoney’s ‘The Garden’ (pictured left), first shown at The Arts Council Festival of Britain exhibition, ‘Sixty Paintings for 51’, Evelyn Dunbar ‘Woman Tending Bocconea Cordata’ and Nancy Nicholson’s playful depiction of her father ‘William Nicholson at Work’.

One of the highlights of the show is the intimate study of plants by many of the artists including Winifred Knights ‘Study for bluebells’ and ‘Sunflowers at Oak Cottage’ by Charles Mahoney.

Liss Llewellyn was founded in 1991 by Paul Liss and Sacha Llewellyn. They are exhibition organisers, publishers and Fine Art dealers specialising in the unsung heroines and heroes of British art from 1880-1980. They work with museums and cultural institutions in the UK and abroad to develop a series of in-depth exhibitions to encourage the reappraisal of some of the less well-known figures of 20th century British art.

The selling exhibition is in support of the Garden Museum’s education programmes and runs from 26th February to 5th April, 2020 at the Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, London, SE1 7LB – visit
For opening times and admission details.

Al photographs are strictly © – banner: Gerald Leet, (1913-1998) ‘Yellow and pink lilies on a window ledge overlooking the sea’, courtesy of Liss Llewellyn; middle left: Charles Mahoney, ‘The Garden’, 1950, image courtesy of Liss Llewellyn and middle centre: Harry Bush, (1883-1957) ‘Snowfall in the Suburbs – A View from the Artist’s House’, 1940, courtesy of Liss Llewellyn.