Britain’s most influential artists exhibit at The Burton at Bideford

Face Value is a collection of portraits from The Arts Council Collection and The Burton at Bideford’s permanent collection

Face Value is a collection of portraits from The Arts Council Collection and The Burton at Bideford’s permanent collection - Credit: Burton At Bideford

Portraits by some of Britain’s most influential artists from the last century have come together in an exhibition at The Burton in Bideford.

Face Value brings together more than 45 original works by some of the country’s most celebrated contemporary artists, including Barbara Hepworth, David Hockney, L.S. Lowry and Chris Ofili. The specially curated exhibition opened at The Burton at Bideford on July 13.

Designed to appeal to people-watchers and art lovers alike, Face Value focuses on the varied styles and techniques artists employ to depict the human form. Featuring works by 34 different artists working in a variety of media from drawing and painting to collage, sculpture, photography and film.

The exhibition documents an age-long obsession with portraiture and asks us to consider how and why images of people have continued to fascinate artists and viewers throughout time.

We learn how portraiture is rarely about simply capturing a likeness; portraits provide insights into the human spirit, and comment on place, popular culture and politics.

The exhibition includes traditional seated portraits alongside more casual scenes of people at work and at leisure – in the barbers, at the beach or heading off to the pub.


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It’s not often that we have the opportunity of getting so close to another human being, of studying facial expression and glimpsing into what it means to be human.

The display spans over a hundred years, from Walter Sickert’s 1906 ‘Head of a Woman’ to Claudette Johnson’s 2018 portrayal of the form, figure and strength of Black womanhood in ‘Figure in Blue’.

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Further highlights from the exhibition include: David Hockney’s ‘Portrait Surrounded by Artistic Devices,’ ‘Study for ‘Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy’’ and ‘We Two Boys Together Clinging; works by three Turner Prize winners – Chris Ofili, Antony Gormley and Howard Hodgkin – as well as a further four Turner Prize nominees including Tracey Emin who uses self-portraiture to raise questions surrounding sexuality and gender.

The show also features original drawings and paintings by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.

Face Value has been made possible through loans secured from the Arts Council Collection, the world’s largest loan collection of modern and contemporary British art.

Director, Ian Danby, said: “We hope this exhibition will bring audiences from all over the country featuring, as it does, works from some of the greatest artists of the last century. It features many well-known works and a particularly personal ‘We Two Boys Together Clinging’ by David Hockney.

“This is an amazing opportunity to show some of the finest artworks by well-known artists here in the gallery in Bideford and we are only able to do this because of the funding provided by Torridge, The Arts Council, The Friends of the Burton and donations from our visitors so we are grateful for all their support.”

The exhibition is on show September 26, 2021.

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