Nature in Art, Gloucestershire, the world’s only museum dedicated to art inspired by nature celebrates 25 years
One of the glorious things about the museums community and the family of institutions that make it up is its diversity. Not just diversity within collections but between collections. Together they provide opportunities for inspiration, learning and, perhaps most importantly, discovery.
One might think that there was hardly anything that could not be addressed in depth through one or more of these collections, but, just as Nature in Art appears to have plugged a gap in the selection of publicly accessible museums, one suspects that there are many more gaps still to be filled.
Man is a painter and always has been. As early as 25,000 BC the subjects of his first paintings were animals. It is surely a remarkable fact that, while nature was the first subject for man’s artistic attention, it was largely overlooked for thousands of years and has only in the last four centuries again become an important stimulus to his creative endeavour.
Perhaps then it is a surprise that, as far as we know, it was not until the opening of Nature in Art in 1988 that the heritage of art inspired by nature has been exclusively collected, displayed and celebrated. While national art collections in many countries have been notable for the breadth and variety of their subject matter and the magnificent quality of the work they exhibit, they have largely neglected works of art depicting nature. Boosted by the growth all around the world of a sense of public and individual responsibility for conservation of the environment and our heritage in nature, and for inter-cultural dialogue, there is a new awareness of the value of fine examples of works of art from around the world which depict living things.
Nature in Art is the world’s only museum dedicated to art inspired by nature and holds many diverse temporary exhibitions each year. Whilst some exhibitions are of the type people may expect to see in this museum of nature-inspired art, forthcoming exhibitions such as Talons and Tiaras, an exhibition of work by fashion designer Kate Plumtree of glamorous evening wear inspired by birds (4 June – 14 July), is one example of the museum embracing a more atypical form of art.
The museum’s own collection is equally eclectic: spanning 1500 years, it contains work by 600 artists from over 50 countries. Thus visitors can see the widest-range of nature-inspired art in the world, including watercolour landscapes, contemporary glass, the Flemish masters, modern abstract interpretations, bronze sculpture and even some exotic oriental treasures. Visitors can also meet an artist as they work on their next creation, which could involve painting, printing, woodcarving or one of many other art forms.
Back in 1982 when the charity that owns and runs Nature in Art was established – at that time with no money, no collection and no building, it’s only asset was a ‘good idea’ and enthusiasm – a self-sustaining professional museum focusing on art inspired by nature was an unachievable dream in the opinion of many experts. Yet by 1988, a small collection had been assembled and sufficient funding to purchase and then convert a fine Georgian mansion was raised from countless sources enabling the museum to open free of debt. Still today, without any guaranteed ongoing public or private funding, the museum has remained debt-free and is approaching its 25th anniversary with confidence.
To celebrate this amazing achievement we will be taking part in a day of celebration, on the 28th May, and all are invited. There will be stalls selling local craft and produce, free drop in art events, games, exhibitions, artists at work as well as lots of laughter and fun. Entrance will be £2 (under 8’s free) on this day and we will be open 10am – 5pm.
See www.nature-in-art.org.uk or ring 01452 731422 for more information.
Nature in Art is open Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm (plus bank holidays).
Find us at Wallsworth Hall, Twigworth, Gloucester, GL2 9PA, 2 miles north of Gloucester on the A38.
Source: Nature in Art