The Attenborough Collection
New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester
On until 30th September 2007
Yesterday I took a stroll down to New Walk Museum to check out the Picasso exhibition, something which I had been looking forward to for a while. Well, what can I say? It was great, really enjoyable. The objects on display - donated by Lord Attenborough and his wife Sheila to the City of Leicester in memory of their daughter and granddaughter killed in the Asian Tsunami - are beautiful and engaging, belying the simplicity of their design and form. And there is something about ceramics which is immediately accessible, I feel. Perhaps it is the echoes of domesticity, despite that many of the examples on show are purely decorative? Nevertheless, I am certain that the choice of medium would enable many more people to engage with, or feel that they can engage with, Picasso's aesthetic approach.
And this is further enabled by the unobtrusive gallery fixtures and fittings. The clean lines and neutral colour palette (save for the occasional burst of colour punctuating the wall-mounted text panels) show the objects off to their best, without being clinical, or pretentious. In some areas of the galleries that house the exhibition (especially the larger of the two) the lighting is not up to much, but that's a minor irritation.
Normally when viewing an art exhibition I inevitably fall into the trap of assuming a detached persona (which I then actively seek to dismantle by behaving as one shouldn't ;)), but not this time. I was genuinely delighted and moved by several of the objects; no need to summon up enthusiasm here! The subjects have an immediacy that's very 'human'. In particular I loved the dishes and squat vases featuring goats (they are currently my most favourite animal), and the round plate of a female nude at the beach - her expression is just how I feel when I see the sea, kind of 'wahey! Sea!' (though I tend to keep my clothes on!).
All in all this exhibition is great and I highly recommend it. In fact I enjoyed it so much I forked out the £9.99 for the official catalogue (which is v glossy btw). And I can assure you, that don't happen very often. ;)
The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.