Exhibition celebrates the champions of the natural world in partnership with National Portrait Gallery

Press release
Linda McCartney portrait by Humphrey Ocean taken on 27 May 1976.
Published : 05 Mar 2019

Champions of the natural world, from the 19th century to the present day, will be celebrated in a new exhibition touring three National Trust places this year.

The exhibition, Faces of Change: ‘Nature’s Champions’ is a partnership between the National Trust and the National Portrait Gallery drawing on portraits from the Gallery’s Collection. It will focus on individuals who have transformed the way we perceive, experience, and aim to protect the natural world. 

Featured sitters include environmental activists, scientists, poets, politicians, campaigners, gardeners and broadcasters who have affected how we interact with our environment.  
The exhibition includes outstanding paintings, sculptures, photographs and recent commissions. 

Gardeners from Gertrude Jekyll to Bob Flowerdew will feature, as well as key figures of the Romantic Movement, such as William Wordsworth, and early radicals and reformers William Morris and Octavia Hill.

Recent figures
More recent figures include animal welfare and agriculture campaigners Linda McCartney and Prince Charles, and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough. These are complemented by images of people at the forefront of conservation and research, including Jane Goodall and James Lovelock. 

In each case, the exhibition will chart the sitters’ importance in our evolving understanding of the natural world and how best to protect it.  

Dunham Massey, Cheshire
At Dunham Massey visitors will also see objects from Dunham’s collection that link the family to Gilbert White and Octavia Hill, as well as a film documenting young people’s thoughts about the environment today. In the second half the year, Dunham will continue their year-long celebration of nature with a photography exhibition showing the work local people are doing to look after green spaces every day. 

Attingham Park, Shropshire
At Attingham, staff, volunteers and local school children have contributed to the exhibition by sharing their personal reflections on nature and the work of the portrait sitters. The exhibition is part of a year-long visitor programme ‘Grow Your Green Roots’ highlighting the work to conserve and protect nature on Attingham’s 4,000 acre estate.

Upton House, Warwickshire
At Upton, the exhibition will complement the exhibition of 1930s Shell advertising posters including the See Britain First campaign, which showed an idealised view of the English countryside. There will also be a focus on landscapes for Upton’s ‘picture in focus’ display in the house, bringing together paintings from the collection to see how artists’ vision of the natural world changed over time.

Annie Reilly, Acting Head of Public Programmes at the National Trust comments:'For many years, we have enjoyed a successful partnership with the National Portrait Gallery showcasing portraits from their collection to visitors at Trust places. Last year saw the development of this partnership with a touring exhibition to commemorate the women’s suffrage anniversary, which was the start of our Faces of Change series of exhibitions. 

'We are looking forward to continuing this partnership with the ‘Nature’s Champions’ exhibition which will invite visitors of all ages to discover or learn more about some of the leading figures, past and present, who have played a key role in promoting and protecting the natural world.'

National Portrait Gallery
Rab MacGibbon, Curator, 17th & 18th Centuries Collections, National Portrait Gallery adds:
'We’re delighted to continue to partner with the National Trust on the Faces of Change exhibitions and to be able to bring our Collection to three new National Trust places, this time to celebrate the champions of the natural world.

'This exhibition is a call to arms for nature. Come and be inspired by coming face to face with key figures from the environmental movement. We can’t all be a Jane Goodall or David Attenborough, but we can ask ourselves what actions we are taking in our daily lives to help protect the planet for the benefit of all its inhabitants and for future generations. We can all be Nature Champions.'

For "Natures’ Champions", young people and family audiences connected to each of the three Trust properties were involved in the selection of the works and have contributed to the exhibition content. 

The exhibition is part of the National Trust’s year-long programme People’s Landscapes, a series of events and activities that will explore landscapes where people came together to seek dramatic social change.