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Watercolour in Britain: Traveling with Colour

January 30 - April 18, 2010

Norwich Castle Museum, traveling exhibition

Visit the Norwich Castle


Watercolour in Britain presented a rich variety of subject matter by many of Britain’s finest painters from the eighteenth century through to the present day. The unique and rarely seen works were selected by curators from Tate Britain, Norwich Castle, the Millennium Galleries and the Laing.


The exhibition at Norwich Castle showed how artists have exploited the portability of Watercolour. The paints are very easy to carry and the speed with which they dry allowed artists such as JMW Turner, John Sell Cotman and Thomas Girtin to record their travels with ease. At the same time the magical translucent quality of watercolour enabled artists to capture subtle variations in natural light.


Later paintings by Edward Burra, John Piper, Graham Sutherland and Anish Kapoor showed how painters have combined watercolour with gouache and other mediums to produce vibrant works with delicate lines and flourishing brushstrokes.


Watercolour in Britain was part of the Heritage Lottery Fund project ‘The Great British Art Debate’, which explored what British art has to say about identity and ‘Britishness’.


Watercolour in Britain toured the country, focussing on different aspects of watercolour painting in Britain at each venue: Millennium Galleries, Sheffield (17 June - 5 September 2010), the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle (18 September – 5 December 2010) and Tate Britain (15 February – 14 August 2011).


The Great British Art Debate was a partnership project between Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service, Tate Britain, Tyne and Wear Museums, Museums Sheffield and the Institute of International Visual Arts (InIVA). It was supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Renaissance in the Regions – museums for changing lives.

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