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 Paul Black, Sir Peter Blake, Sgt. Pepper, The Harley Gallery
Sir Peter Blake: A Pinch Of  Sgt. Pepper At The Harley Gallery - ArtLyst Article image

Sir Peter Blake: A Pinch Of Sgt. Pepper At The Harley Gallery

07-03-2016
 
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Paul Black travelled to the opening of the Harley Gallery, home to the historic Portland Collection of fine and decorative art, the gallery is also known for its inclusion of contemporary art from some of today's leading artists - and its selection of miniature paintings dating back to the Tudor period, including works by Hans Holbein and Nicholas Hilliard - and with its latest display comes a playful and contemporary twist.

The collection has been assembled over nearly half a millennium by the Dukes of Portland. But with its opening, the gallery is presenting the first display of its new ‘Miniatures Octagon’, a space designed by John Ronayne to create a intimate viewing area, the contents of which has been curated by the British Pop Art great Sir Peter Blake.

Image: Peter Blake, ‘Miniatures Octagon’, a space designed by John Ronayne, curated by Peter Blake. Photo: P A Black © Artlyst 2016.

Blake has individually chosen and ordered the miniatures from the collection. The Pop artist has presented the historical miniature portraits in four cases in the display area, gathering the faces closely together, choosing a specific order, and creating relationships both facial and formal between the works. The back of each display case is a different colour, creating a colour field in which to place the myriad of faces, altering their context.

Image: Peter Blake, ‘Miniatures Octagon’, a space designed by John Ronayne, curated by Peter Blake. Photo: P A Black © Artlyst 2016.

In fact Blake changes the way we view the works, contemporizing the subjects, and forming a direct relationship with his Pop Art practice. In doing so the viewer cannot help but think of the artist's iconic album cover for the Beatles Sgt. Pepper, the portraits from the collection begin to mirror the cut-outs of the artist's work, a re-ordered contemporary collage of re-contextualised historical figures, taking on a more playful existence.

Image: Peter Blake, ‘Miniatures Octagon’, a space designed by John Ronayne, curated by Peter Blake. Photo: P A Black © Artlyst 2016.

Blake's use of collage to create surreal and often comedic opportunities will again be explored when the artist shows original collages inspired by journeys – both real and imagined - as part of the Grand Tour from 20 March 2016. The artist's works often include images from postcards, magazines or found ephemera.

The Grand Tour will reinterpret world class collections through contemporary art across four venues in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. The Tour is a partnership between Chatsworth, Derby Museums, The Harley Gallery and Nottingham Contemporary together with Experience Nottinghamshire and Visit Peak District and Derbyshire.

About the gallery:

Set up in 1977 by Ivy, Duchess of Portland, The Harley Gallery is part of The Harley Foundation, a charitable trust. The Foundation aims to encourage the enjoyment of the visual arts and celebrate the handmade. The Harley Gallery is home to the historic Portland Collection of fine and decorative art, which will be displayed from 2016 in a new purpose built facility. The Gallery is also known for its contemporary art exhibitions from leading modern artists.

The Harley Foundation also provides services for artists through support schemes, retail opportunities in The Harley Shop and subsidised studio spaces. The Harley Studios provide space for up to 25 artists, in the beautiful surroundings of the Welbeck Estate, Nottinghamshire.

Words: Paul Black.

Lead image: Sir Peter Blake. Photo courtesy of Luke Andrew Walker © 2016.

Peter Blake Curates The Portland Miniatures - Harley Gallery, Nottinghamshire - 20 March to 31 August 2016.


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