Circles and Tangents presents a visual account of networks and circles of artists living and working on Cranborne Chase from the 1920s to the present day. During this time the Chase has continued to be a landscape of inspiration, seclusion and bare-boned beauty. Now a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this vast and ancient landscape bridges the counties of Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire.
Items in the exhibition have been drawn from a variety of sources, many from private collections, and range from early neo-romantic works to contemporary pieces made specifically for this exhibition.
Artists in the exhibition from the earlier generation include the Nicholson family (William, Ben, Winifred, E.Q. and Tim), John Craxton, Lucian Freud, Augustus John, Henry Lamb, Frances Hodgkins and Katharine Church (Kitty West).
E.Q. Nicholson was married to Ben Nicholson’s brother, the architect Christopher (Kit) Nicholson, who designed Augustus John’s studio at Fordingbridge on the edge of the Chase. Early works by John Craxton and Lucian Freud, who were welcomed, as young artists by E.Q. to her home at Alderholt Mill, are also represented.
Katharine Church, who ran the Hambledon Gallery in Blandford Forum, had a celebrated circle of friends, including Frances Hodgkins and Mary Fedden, who was also a frequent visitor to Elisabeth Frink's home at Woolland, near Blandford. Frink’s work is represented in the exhibition along with sculpture by Peter Thursby, John Hitchens, Jay Battle, Tim Harrisson, Don Potter, and Ian Middleton. There is also stained glass by Joseph Nuttgens and a number of oils and drawings by Augustus John, Henry Lamb and other celebrated painters of that age, including Stanley Spencer.
The Chase retains the power to inspire artistic creativity and progressive new art. Contemporary artists include Tim Nicholson, Ursula Leach (who explores 'the new face of agriculture’), and Brian Rice, Paul Jones and Brian Graham, who all draw inspiration from ancient sites on the Chase.
The exhibition is accompanied by a book of the same title by Vivienne Light.