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Galleries and Exhibitions at Dudmaston Hall

Dudmaston Hall Galleries Lindsey Bucknor 1 Shropshire
Upstairs in the Galleries at Dudmaston Hall | © Lindsey Bucknor

Dudmaston is home to one of the most important private collections of Modern Art in Britain. Sir George and Lady Rachel Labouchere installed the galleries you see today and displayed their art collections before gifting Dudmaston to the National Trust in 1978. Featuring artwork by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson, as well as local artists and sculptors; art, in its many forms, has always found a home at Dudmaston, both indoors and out.

Art galleries at Dudmaston Hall

Sir George and Lady Labouchere started collecting Modern Art in the 1950s while Sir George was working for the British Embassy in Brussels. The couple came to live at Dudmaston in the 1960s, where they installed the galleries to display their personal art collections, as well as temporary exhibitions in some of the gallery spaces.

Why not explore the galleries during your visit to the hall? Here are some highlights to look out for:

Inspired by Nature

Originally curated by Lady Rachel Labouchere, Dudmaston’s last owner, in the late 1970s, the gallery space has undergone a transformation. As part of a complete rehang, the gallery now boasts a new colour scheme and lighting system which highlights the new positions of the artwork on display.

Featuring work by esteemed botanical artists, such as John Nash and Mary Grierson, ‘Inspired by Nature’ is on display until the end of October at Dudmaston Hall.

Examples of Lady Labouchere’s own artwork, including her watercolours which depict some familiar scenes at Dudmaston, are on display as part of the exhibition. She was trained, as an amateur artist, by John Nash at Flatford Mill in Suffolk. Chairs and handbags which she embroidered with botanical designs, are on display in the gallery, alongside photographs of her doing the work.

Open until 31 October 2024

Lindsey Bucknor
Inspired by Nature Gallery at Dudmaston Hall | © Lindsey Bucknor

Modern Movement

Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson were three of the most influential British modern artists of the 20th century. They were key figures in the development of British Modernism, experimenting with new materials and techniques to challenge the traditional idea that art needs to depict the world it represents realistically.

Sir George Labouchere, who made the house his home, began to curate his collection of modern abstract art in the 1950s and was described by the American curator Charles Spencer as an ‘addicted and knowledgeable collector’. At first, he considered only collecting works by British artists, acquiring pieces by Hepworth, Moore and Nicholson.

As British ambassador to Belgium (1955-60), he mounted an exhibition of British modern art at the Embassy in Brussels, held during the 1958 Brussels World Fair (Expo 58).

As well as collecting works by established artists, Sir George wished that ‘more people would consider the present generation of artists – and not just the safe ones – when they are adding to their collections in old properties’. He commissioned works from local artist Anthony Twentyman, who was closely connected to and inspired by Hepworth and Moore. The works of all four artists, and others, now adorn the walls of Dudmaston’s Galleries.

So whether you're already a fan of Modern Art, or just want to enjoy some of the finest works from Britain's 20th Century pioneers of the genre, then The Modern Movement is perfect for you.

Sir George designed the original hang in the Modern Art gallery when the house opened to the public in the late 1970s. Lady Labouchere saw the galleries as living museums, to keep fresh through changing exhibitions. We continue to change the exhibitions today, which helps us to manage the conservation of the collection, and means you'll often see something new at Dudmaston.

In the Modern Art gallery, only 'Chic Temps' above the fireplace remains where Sir George wished it to be, in honour of the fact that it was one of his favourites.

Lindsey Bucknor
Modern Art Gallery at Dudmaston Hall | © Lindsey Bucknor

Spanish Gallery

Sir George and Lady Labouchere were in Spain during the dictatorship of General Franco. They were dark and difficult days and many used art to express their emotions. Despite the anti-establishment message of the works Sir George collected, he maintained good ambassadorial terms with the General.

'El Cine' by Antonio Saura is an example of anti-establishment art by Saura who spent many years in exile from Franco’s regime. It gives the impression of a crowd looking at a huge screen. The screen contains establishment figures, but who is watching who?

Lindsey Bucknor
Dudmaston Hall Spanish Gallery | © Lindsey Bucknor

Anthony Twentyman

Dudmaston has always been a place where local artists and craftspeople come to find inspiration in nature and to interpret the beauty of the views and surrounding landscape. To continue this tradition, we feature paintings and sculptures by Anthony Twentyman, highlighting his role at one of Dumaston's closest artistic influencers. As well as Twentyman's works from Dudmaston's collection, the exhibition features some of Twentyman's paintings, kindly loaned by Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

Born in nearby Wolverhampton in 1906, Anthony Twentyman played a big part in what makes Dudmaston special and surprising. Sir George Labouchere, husband to Lady Rachel, Dudmaston's last owner, was a keen collector of Modern Art. He commissioned Twentyman, a local artist and close friend, to design some sculptures for the garden and Galleries at Dudmaston in the late 1960s and early 70s.

Twentyman's sculpture The Watcher looks across the pool at Dudmaston Hall. He was fascinated by texture, light and shade and natural form. He used bones, pebbles and water to inspire the shapes used in his sculptures.

Visitors look at a sculpture which looks like a 3D Japanese written character in a stately home garden
Anthony Twentyman's sculpture Spaceframe at Dudmaston Hall | © Trevor Ray Hart


Frame the Landscape

To highlight work the National Trust is doing across the estate today, after exploring the galleries inside, why not go outdoors and look through picture frames, to discover key views and vistas at Dudmaston. Some frames are paired with mid 19th century sketches to give you an idea of how the view has changed and developed over time.

Fanology: Objects of Beauty

Dudmaston Halls Fanology exhibition features fans dating from 1770-1950, collected by the property's last owner, Lady Labouchere. Used at court and balls to express a silent language of status and power, the exhibition explores how these 'objects of beauty' are so much more than just a fashion accessory.

Lindsey Bucknor
Dudmaston Hall Fanology Exhibition | © Lindsey Bucknor