#chesterculture – John Piper’s screen print Façade at Grosvenor Museum until 26th June 2016

A dramatic screenprint by John Piper, inspired by one of the most fascinating houses in Cheshire, has gone on display at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum.
John Piper (1903-92) was a painter of architecture, landscape and abstract compositions, a designer for the theatre and of stained-glass windows, and a writer on the arts. In the 1940s and ’50s he was one of the best known and most highly regarded painters in England. Piper began his career as a landscape painter, then experimented with abstraction in the 1930s before returning to representational painting, particularly architectural subjects. He is one of the few artists whose reputation is based on the interpretation of architecture, capturing the essence of a building’s character in line and paint to evoke feeling and emotion.

John Piper had been making prints since the 1920s, but from the 1960s printmaking became an increasingly significant aspect of his work. Working with the screenprinter Chris Prater at Kelpra Studio, Piper became fascinated by the wide range of techniques available to him. ‘Façade’ was screenprinted at Kelpra in 1987, just five years before Piper’s death.
facade , john piper, grosvenor museum

John Piper’s 1987 screenprint ‘Façade’ is based on the curtain which he designed for a 1942 performance of ‘Façade – An Entertainment’, which comprises poems by Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) recited over an instrumental accompaniment by William Walton (1902-83). The poems were recited behind the curtain using a megaphone through the central mask. Alongside the mask is the suggestion of a Gothic house, folly, garden and lake, together with a dragonfly, butterfly and the moon.

The façade in Piper’s design was inspired by the entrance front of Eaton Hall in William Porden’s Regency Gothic incarnation. Eaton came into the possession of the Grosvenor family in the 1440s, and the first house on the present site was built in 1675-82. The house was transformed in 1804-14 by William Porden for the 2nd Earl Grosvenor, and in 1823-5 wings were added by Benjamin Gummow. The result was a spectacular Gothic mansion with spiky buttresses, pinnacles, battlements and turrets. The house was remodelled in 1846-51 by William Burn, and in 1869-83 Alfred Waterhouse transformed it into a Wagnerian palace for the 1st Duke of Westminster. This was demolished in 1961-3, leaving only the chapel and stables. A modern house was built in 1971-3, which in turn was transformed in 1989-91 for the present Duke.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Health and Wellbeing, said:  “The print was purchased with funds from the Robert Armstrong Bequest through the Grosvenor Museum Society and with help from the ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund: we are enormously grateful for their generous support.”    

Maurice Rider, Chairman of the Grosvenor Museum Society, said: “Dramatic, romantic and evocative, ‘Façade’ is a highly characteristic example of John Piper’s art. Inspired by Eaton Hall, one of the most magnificent of Gothic Revival houses, it makes a fascinating addition to the museum’s fine collection of modern prints. I am delighted that the Grosvenor Museum Society has been able to help with this important acquisition. The society supports the museum across a range of activities, funding acquisitions for the collection, conservation and publications, education and events. The Society is totally committed to supporting the Grosvenor Museum and its mission.”

‘Inspired by Gothic: Ruins, Romance, Revival’

Runs until 26 June 2016

The Grosvenor Museum 

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10.30am to5pm and Sunday 1pm to 4pm

Admission free, donations welcome

#chesterculture – Anne Lever: The Poetic Landscape – 23rd April to 17th July 2016

An exhibition of beautiful paintings by Anne Lever and poems by Michael Fox opens shortly at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum. ‘Anne Lever: The Poetic Landscape’ will run from 23rd April to 17th July 2016.

Anne Lever left her practice as a lawyer in London to live and paint in rural Cheshire. She studied with Robin Child at his Art Research Centre and is a member of the Rosvik Collective, a group of artists interested in landscape art. Inspired by her love and knowledge of the British landscape and its history, her work is ordered by geometry and infused with feeling for the spirit of place.

Anne Lever: The Poetic LandscapeWorking in the imaginative Neo-Romantic tradition, her art is influenced by the French master Paul Cezanne (1839-1906), the American painter Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) and the British artist Keith Vaughan (1912-1977). Exhibiting widely and with a growing following, her work is in many private collections.

Anne Lever said: “In all my painting I seek to transmit something of what I feel when a fleeting glimpse of something in the landscape stops me in my tracks. I go out in all weathers. Something catches my attention. I try to capture that sensation in my work. Not by recording reality but by finding an image that reflects my experience. Sometimes this just breathes itself onto the surface of the board; sometimes it is a monumental struggle; and all honouring the rectangle, on a flat surface and using colour. I have a passion for paint and am compelled to push through boundaries in order to resolve things which I do not fully comprehend. The result is always a surprise and leads on to further discovery.”


Anne Lever: The Poetic LandscapeEach painting in the exhibition has inspired a poem by Michael Fox. He was the first Literary Manager of the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, before becoming a BBC drama producer. Subsequently he set up his own independent media company before co-founding and directing the Commonwealth Film Festival. Now an Anglican priest, he combines writing with doctoral research into drama and theology.

Michael Fox said: “Anne’s paintings are powerful visual expressions which need no explanation, but since first encountering her work I have admired it for its poetic quality, for its dash and verve and sense of creating a vivid experience there in the moment. I found myself wanting to respond by chasing down the imaginative places to which the work takes me and by finding a language for the deep resonances the combinations of colour and structure evoke in me.”

The programme of accompanying events includes:
Monday 25 April – ‘5000 years of land-use in upper Glen Almond, Perthshire’ lecture by Professor Richard Oram
Wednesday 18th May – ‘Commanding Views: A History of Landscape Art’ lecture by Adrian Sumner
Friday 3rd June – Tissue Paper Landscapes family activity
Tuesday 12th July – Exhibition Tour with Anne Lever

Anne Lever: The Poetic Landscape
The Grosvenor Museum
23rd April to 17th July 2016
Open Monday to Saturday 10.30am to 5pm and Sunday 1pm to 4pm
Admission is free but donations are welcomed.  

#chesterculture – Winnie The Pooh: Springtime With Roo – Free screening at Grosvenor Museum, courtesy of CH1BID. – 7th April 2016

As part of CH1BID’s Easter Eggstravaganza, CH1BID present a free screening of ‘Winnie The Pooh: Springtime With Roo’ at Grosvenor Museum.
Booking is highly recommended and it is advised that you arrive at least fifteen minutes before the screening is set to start.

An all new Winnie the Pooh story,  an Easter take on A Christmas Carol, using A.A. Milne’s classic characters. Never before shown in cinemas this is a unique opportunity to catch this on the big screen.

Winnie The Pooh: Springtime With Roo
Grosvenor Museum
Thursday 7th April 2016

#chesterculture – Big Weather Day – 6th April 2016

Join CH1Bid at Grosvenor Museum for Big Weather Day today, inspired by the paintings by Marcus Usherwood.

Create a scientific storm in a bottle. Use coloured fabrics to make textured sunset pictures. Have a go at presenting a ‘historical weather report’ and follow the weather trail through the galleries.

Nutkins the cheeky squirrels will also be out on Bridge Street today Midday-12.30pm, 1.15pm-1.45pm, and 2.30pm-3.00pm

Grosvenor Museum, Museum Galleries
Wednesday 6th April, 11am-4pm, drop-in
Free with suggested donation of £1.50

#ChesterCulture – Grosvenor Museum and the son of the 1st Marquess of Crewe

An enchanting portrait of the three-year-old son of the 1st Marquess of Crewe, painted in 1914 by one of the most celebrated portrait painters of the day, has gone on display at Chester’s Grosvenor Museum.

Maurice Rider, Chairman of the Grosvenor Museum Society, said: “Philip de László’s portrait of Lord Madeley is a very fine and highly accessible work of art, and I believe it will give our visitors enormous pleasure. I am delighted that the Grosvenor Museum Society has been able to help with this important acquisition. The society provides vital support for the museum across a range of activities, funding acquisitions for the collection, conservation and publications, education and events. The Society is passionately committed to supporting the Grosvenor Museum and its mission.”

Born in 1911. Known to his family as Jack, his full name was Richard George Archibald John Lucian Hungerford Crewe-Milnes, and his courtesy title was Earl of Madeley.
He was the only son of Robert Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe and his second wife Lady Margaret Primrose, daughter of former Prime Minister the 5th Earl of Rosebery.

Lord Crewe was a distinguished Liberal statesman and during his son’s lifetime was Leader of the House of Lords and Secretary of State for India.  Lord Madeley was heir to the great estate at Crewe Hall, one of Cheshire’s grandest country houses, and grew up there. Tragically, he died in 1922, aged eleven, of measles, mastoiditis and meningitis. He was buried in the churchyard at Barthomley, where he was subsequently joined by his parents.

His portrait was painted by Philip de László (1869-1937). Born in Budapest, de László settled in London in 1907 and for the next thirty years was one of the most celebrated portrait painters in Europe. Cosmopolitan, international in outlook and a master of high style and painterly panache, his bravura portraiture in the grand manner was the last great flowering of a style stretching back two centuries to Sir Anthony van Dyck. De László was renowned for his speed and directness, for his ability to capture likenesses and convey character, and for his flowing brushwork and scintillating effects of light and colour that brought his subjects vividly to life.

Philip de László never sketched his sitter’s faces beforehand but simply took up his brush and started the picture. His technique naturally lent itself to the portrait sketch, of which he was an absolute master. He would rapidly complete the face and head, and then deliberately leave the rest of the canvas blank, giving these portraits a remarkable freshness and spontaneity.

De László was often asked to paint children, and his fluid and rapid technique allowed him to capture their animation and inquisitive innocence. His portrait of Lord Madeley perfectly exemplifies these great skills.

The Grosvenor Museum
Monday – Saturday 10.30-5 and Sunday 1-4
Admission free, donations welcomed

Cheshire on Film.



Archive film showing quirky local traditions and fascinating daily life in and around Cheshire over the last hundred years will be screened at the Grosvenor Museum on Tuesday 8 March at 2pm and 7.30pm

‘Cheshire on Film’ is a specially selected compilation of films from The North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University. They are being screened as part of its programme to make this captivating collection available to the public of the North West region.

The footage includes views of Edwardian life in Chester in 1907 and shows the women of Neston on their annual Ladies Walking Day of 1910. The last of Chester’s trams are seen running through the city in 1930 and in 1942 the children of Elworth are recorded as they adapt to School life in Wartime. A trip along the Weaver Navigation sees the world famous Anderton Boat Lift in operation, and delicate silk fabrics produced in Macclesfield are turned into fine cloth in Colour in Silk from 1954. Join the residents of Ellesmere Port as their refuse collections are revolutionised in 1961 and see how the County’s famous Cheshire Cheese is produced on a farm at Mollington in 1980 in an episode of the BBC’s Homeground series.

Tickets cost £6, £5 concessions. Ticket sales and more information from http://www.westcheshiremuseums.co.uk