Only Connect

Dame Barbara Hepworth
by Dame Barbara Hepworth
NPG 5919

When in London the National Portrait Gallery is often the place to find a thought-provoking programme that shows creativity and inventiveness in a highly decorated traditional setting. The latest exhibition that LR direct my attention to is Only Connect..

Only Connect was devised by a musician, Peter Sheppard Skærved, violinist, in collaboration with Paul Moorhouse, 20th Century curator at the National Portrait Gallery. This collaboration provides – as is the trend amongst large institutions with mammoth warehouses of stuff – a re-reading of its own collection though a post-modern view of interconnectivity, avoiding hierarchies and boundaries “between creative or interpretative artists and musicians, or between great engineers and dentists.” Interestingly enough the National Portrait Gallery refer to it as a ‘display’ rather than an exhibition.

Our very local to Cornwall Barbara Hepworth features in it as well.

If not in London, the National Portrait Gallery website features an interactive way to view the display and the intriguing connections between all the sitters. (Not sure about the silver lines but they do the job, maybe if they were thinner…)

“Only Connect, is an experimental new display at the National Portrait Gallery presenting a web of portraits connecting sitters across three centuries. Comprising paintings, sculpture, photographs, engravings, drawings, miniatures and works in other media from the National Portrait Gallery’s holdings, the display uses musical connections to explore new ways of looking at the Collection.

The display proposes a network of threads connecting singers, composers, artists, doctors, sculptors, poets, engineers, ambassadors and many others. As a result, everyone in the display is linked in one way or another. The connections range from the profound and the personal to the accidental and the incidental. Some were friends and some were lovers, several wrote about each other or had similar ideas, others were enemies or simply met on the street.
For example, composer Benjamin Britten and violinist and conductor, Yehudi Menuhin performed at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after liberation in 1945. Yehudi Menuhin gave ground-breaking performances of composer Michael Tippett’s Corelli Fantasia. The sets and costumes for Tippett’s opera Midsummer Marriage were designed by sculptor Barbara Hepworth.”

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