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The life and work of an internationally acclaimed painter from Nottingham is to be celebrated in a major exhibition.
The free exhibition – Laura Knight in the Open Air – is being held at the Djanogly Art Gallery, Lakeside Arts Centre, at the University of Nottingham from 22 September until 4 November.
Shona Powell, director at Lakeside Arts Centre, said: “This is a fascinating exhibition which gives visitors a chance to enjoy the paintings of one of this country’s foremost female artists.
Knight is most famous for her 1920s and 30s paintings of ballet and circus subjects, but her artistic roots lay firmly in the plein air tradition. This exhibition focuses on this element of her work and features some of her best known open air paintings.”
Shona added: “It’s brilliant to have all these great paintings together in Nottingham where Knight received her formative training”
Born in 1877, Laura Knight was one of the most important female artists of her day. In 1929 she was the first artist to be made a Dame, and was the first female to be elected to the Royal Academy in 1936.
She studied at the Nottingham School of Art, where she met her future husband Harold Knight. When she finished her studies, the couple moved to Staithes in North Yorkshire, where she captured the lives of the local fishing community in a series of atmospheric paintings.
It was, however, in Cornwall, to where the couple moved in 1907 that Laura Knight flourished as a painter of open air subjects. Some of her most famous works were painted here, including her painting of a group of children bathed in sunlight on Newlyn beach.
After the First World War the Knights moved to London where she began painting ballet and then circus subjects which brought her international acclaim. However, from the 1930s she increasingly returned to landscapes, using Malvern as the new setting for her rural scenes.
Her background and skill in plein air painting is also evident in her paintings of other subjects featured in the exhibition such as gypsies at Ascot and the home war effort during the Second World War.
Throughout her long and successful career, Knight was committed to tackling her subjects on site. She was influenced by a range of artistic movements including rural realism and French Impressionism.
‘Laura Knight in the Open Air’ is a touring exhibition sponsored by Messum’s and curated by Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance.
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