Betty and George Woodman in focus for new East Sussex exhibition

Betty Woodman and George Woodman is a new exhibition running at Charleston from March 25-September 10.
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A spokesman said: “The first in the UK to show both artists together, this exhibition celebrates the work of ground-breaking American ceramic artist Betty Woodman (1930-2018) and painter and photographer George Woodman (1932-2017).

“A riot of colour, Betty Woodman and George Woodman brings together the artists’ vibrant ceramics, vivid abstract paintings, radical assemblages, photographs and an early collaboration. Side by side, kindred palettes and patterns emerge, evidence of the couple’s continuous artistic dialogue and mutual influences.

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“The exhibition highlights the untold story of Antella, a small town south of Florence, Italy where an ancient stone farmhouse became a significant part of the artists’ lives. It was their home and studio, their inspiration and their canvas, and the setting for some of their most important artistic breakthroughs. As George described it, it was ‘an artist residency for two.’ The show explores the work of both artists from the perspective of their shared life, experiences and influences.

Betty Woodman and George Woodman at Betty’s kiln, Antella, Italy c1973 from Woodman Family Foundation ArchiveBetty Woodman and George Woodman at Betty’s kiln, Antella, Italy c1973 from Woodman Family Foundation Archive
Betty Woodman and George Woodman at Betty’s kiln, Antella, Italy c1973 from Woodman Family Foundation Archive

“Not unlike Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant who lived at Charleston, the Woodmans lived and worked together for decades. From 1968, they spent part of each year at Antella and created a home full of artistic experimentation and creative expression. Like Charleston, it was a space where art and everyday life were entwined. Archival photography brings Antella to life alongside the works Betty and George created there and beyond.

“In this two-person show, the first since the artists’ deaths, we explore the impact of place on artistic creativity and the lasting legacy on the Woodmans’ work.

“Betty Woodman (1930-2018) began her nearly 70-year engagement with clay in the 1950s as a functional potter with the aim of creating beautiful objects to enhance everyday life. In the 1960s, the vase form became Woodman’s subject, product and muse. In deconstructing and reconstructing its form, she created an exuberant and complex body of ceramic sculpture, drawings and prints.

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“George Woodman (1932-2017) was a photographer and painter whose career spanned more than 60 years and included forays into diverse visual media. Woodman was deeply influenced by classical and modernist traditions.”

The exhibition runs from March 25-September 10. Charleston is open Wednesday-Sunday/Bank Holiday Monday, 10am-5pm. Tickets include entry to both exhibitions, Betty and George Woodman and Hylton Nel.

“Our exhibition of contemporary South African artist-potter Hylton Nel (b1941) looks back on 60 years of practice through the lens of the artist’s iconic plates. Bringing together over 200 examples, including a selection of brand new, never-before-seen works created in response to Charleston, This Plate Is What I Have To Say is a ceramic explosion of joy, wit and storytelling.”

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