Abbot Hall, Kendal

Having one of the UK's leading art galleries closeby we are a bit spoilt, and we haven't visited the Abbot Hall gallery in Kendal since its refurbishment and reopening in 2023. So, one quiet Friday afternoon, we visited and immersed ourselves in their interesting exhibitions.

The first exhibition, Art Herbarium, shows works of flora and fauna from a range of artists. Set in a peaceful gallery, we especially loved the flower paintings by Winifred Nicholson, Vanessa Bell and others as well as John Ruskin's 'organic vision'.

The second exhibition which really caught our eye was a selection of rarely exhibited paintings by the 20th century artist, Gilbert Spencer. During the second world war he was Professor of Painting at the Royal College of Art. When the College temporarily closed its (London) doors and relocated to Ambleside in 1940, Spencer and his 150 students relocated too. The students lived in hotels in Ambleside, while Spencer and his family lodged at Ladywood in Grasmere, the home of Professor Ernest de Sélincourt. Sadly, Spencer didn't really like the Lake District's mountainous scenery and felt that he didn't paint it very well.

The Flower Show

Detail from The Flower Show

During the second world war, Gilbert Spencer was fascinated by the Home Guard. He later observed that his paintings and cartoons shared the character of the 1970s sitcom, Dad's Army.

Home Guard Troops near Ambleside

Abbot Hall's other long term exhibitions cover a range of artists and styles, some with local connections.

Arthur Ransome and W G Collingwood

We loved the wide range of artistic styles on show at Abbot Hall and the environment was peaceful, allowing us to really study and enjoy the works.