Internationally-renowned painter Rose Wylie creates new work for Plymouth in multi-site exhibition – ‘History Painting’

Plymouth Arts Centre and The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art
Thursday 29 March to Wednesday 30 May 2018

Internationally-renowned and award-winning British painter Rose Wylie will be the subject of ‘History Painting’, a new multi-site exhibition at Plymouth Arts Centre and The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, featuring a cycle of new work about the Mayflower voyage, created for this exhibition between 2015 and 2017.

These paintings draw on the artist’s memories of first learning about the Pilgrims as a young child in the 1930s, and reflect on how interpretations of history change across the ages.

The multi-site exhibition will have a free exhibition opening on Wednesday 28 March 2018, from 5pm until 6:30pm at Plymouth College of Art and then from 6pm until 8pm at Plymouth Arts Centre. The exhibition will then remain open to members of the public until Wednesday 30 May.

Rose is best known for creating colourful, large-scale, figurative paintings that are smart, funny, and quietly political. These are often made from memory and draw on a wide range of cultural references from history, fashion, and Hollywood to mythology, news imagery, sports and literature.

Figure Head on Boat, 2017, Oil on Canvas, 183 x 167 cm, Rose Wylie
Figure Head on Boat, 2017, Oil on Canvas, 183 x 167 cm, Rose Wylie

The common thread linking these fields is her interest in how images evolve and accumulate meaning, becoming familiar, iconic and part of the narrative of popular culture and wider history.

Ben Borthwick, artistic director of Plymouth Arts Centre said: “I have been talking to Rose about her work for over a decade but never had a situation where we could do a show together.

“So when I started at Plymouth Arts Centre in 2014 this was one of the first exhibitions I commissioned.

“I knew Rose would be interested in Plymouth’s histories and myths and am delighted she has made a new cycle of paintings about the Mayflower to be shown with existing work on a range of themes that speak to Plymouth’s magnificent history and gritty present.

“The plan was always to present the exhibition in two sites to create contrast between Plymouth Arts Centre’s domestic scale galleries which are identical to the proportions of Rose’s studio, and The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art which is a clean white cube.

“I wanted to explore how display conditions change perceptions, but also think about how work looks in spaces of production compared to spaces of display.”

The works selected for Plymouth Arts Centre and The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art focus on Rose’s interests in film, fashion and history and respond to the context of the two galleries, their architecture, location and programmes.

Hannah Rose, exhibitions manager for The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, said: “We’re really excited to bring such an internationally-renowned artist to the South West for the first time.

“Rose has shown work nationally and internationally, including her recent widely acclaimed show at Serpentine Gallery, and the fact that she has created new work for our multi-site show makes this an unmissable opportunity.

“We’re sure that seeing her paintings up close will be an amazing experience for our audiences. “

Plymouth Arts Centre present Rose’s new Mayflower paintings alongside themes the artist has painted for many years that are central to Plymouth’s history, including the Tudor period, the Blitz, and the city as a seaside resort.

“There will also be a selection of Rose’s ‘film notes’ paintings in reference to Plymouth Arts Centre’s 70 year history as a gallery/cinema.

“Ben Rivers’ film What Means Something (2015) reflects on this friendship with Rose, her work, and artistic processes they have in common. It will be shown as part of the exhibition.

At The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, focus is given to the depiction of the female form, with a series of paintings (from 2002 to 2016) presenting pin-up girls, fashion models, sports players and a number of self-portraits.

This exhibition will tour to Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange, 9 June to 15 September 2018.

The exhibition includes a filmed interview between Rose and Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of Serpentine Galleries, made for her recent exhibition QUACK QUACK.



Sat 14th April/ 1:30–4:30pm/ Plymouth Arts Centre
Inspired by Rose Wylie’s unique style of painting, artist Flo Brooks will lead a workshop, in which participants are invited to develop a large scale painting, which explores  identity and memory.

Advance booking recommended. £5 per family. Please contact the Box Office on 01752 206114, Tuesday–Saturday 1pm-8.30pm.

Weds 18th April / 5.30-6.30pm / Studio theatre Plymouth College of Art
Melissa Blanchflower, curator of Rose Wylie’s recent exhibition QUACK QUACK at Serpentine will discuss the artists work.

Weds 9th May / 1.15pm-2.15pm / Plymouth Arts Centre
Ben Borthwick, Artistic Director of Plymouth Arts Centre will discuss his conversations with the artist over the last decade that have led to the exhibition History Painting.

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(from a press release)


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