Home Event Characters

Characters: Portraits and People from the Arts Council Collection
£6.95 | Concessions | Tel 01225 388569

This striking and entertaining exhibition, selected from the Arts Council’s Collection, brings together a host of characters both real and imagined. Painted by British artists over the last 60 years it will feature works by Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Paula Rego and 2013 Turner Prize nominated Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, as well as many of the other leading figurative artists of the last half-century.

The exhibition considers the twin traditions of observation and invention in the painting of people. Arranged in two contrasting halves the exhibition compares artists and works rooted in the observable world (such as Auerbach, Freud and Uglow) with those who have invented characters or distorted actual subjects to create grotesques and monsters, from Peter Blake’s portrait of the fictional boxer Baron Kaiser and Francis Bacon’s imaginary portrait of Van Gogh to Hew Locke’s fantastical Medusa, based on the Queen.

Portraiture is central to both the story of British Art and the Holburne’s collection. The Holburne houses one of the country’s best collections of British eighteenth-century portraits and this exhibition aims to show how the traditions of portraiture, so well represented in the Museum, have been exploited and developed in this country since the second world war.

Director’s Exhibition Tours
Thursday 17 October, 3pm
Tuesday 19 November, 3pm
Free with exhibition ticket or £6.95 with complimentary exhibition tickets
Join Alexander Sturgis for a personal tour of the highlights of Characters

Exhibition-Related Talks and Screenings
To book tel 01225 388569

Masks and Myths: Hew Locke and Milena Dragicevic in conversation with Xa Sturgis
Wednesday 23 October, 7.30pm
Ticket £10/£8
Holburne Contemporaries Event
Hew Locke’s flamboyant and subversive image of the Queen (Medusa) greets visitors to our current Characters exhibition. Milena Dragicevic’s Supplicant 101 is another disturbing presence within the show. Here the two leading contemporary artists discuss their work with Holburne Director Xa Sturgis, exploring the very different ways in which they exploit concealment and defacement in their exploration of questions of identity, meaning and character.

Maggi Hambling Painting Portraits
Wednesday 6 November, 3pm
Ticket £10/£8
Holburne Contemporaries Event
We are thrilled to welcome Maggi Hambling, one of the country’s leading contemporary painters, to the Holburne to talk about her work. Hambling has painted and made portraits throughout her working life, including the early portrait of her one-time neighbour Frances Rose which features in the current exhibition. In this talk she will consider the challenges and possibilities of portraiture and the role it has played, and continues to play in her career.

Dexter Dalwood
Thursday 14 November 7.30pm
Ticket £10/£8
Holburne Contemporaries Event
Leading contemporary artist, and Professor of Art & Design at Bath Spa University, Dexter Dalwood casts his ever inquisitive and thoughtful eye on post-war portraiture and the very different ways in which artists responded to the challenge, support and omnipresence of the photograph.

Jake Auerbach – The Last Art Film
Wednesday 20 November, 7.30pm
Ticket £8
Holburne Contemporaries Event
Jake Auerbach is a filmmaker of documentaries including a series on contemporary artists such as Paula Rego, Allen Jones and Lucian Freud. Jake presents a screening of The Last Art Film, a film about art; not the history of art or the academic study of art or the fluctuations in the art market or the latest exhibition but it is about what starts artists off and what keeps them going. With Michael Landy, Tracey Emin, Gary Hume, Grayson Perry, Celia Paul, Jake Tilson, Michael Craig-Martin, Allen Jones, Tom Phillips, Paula Rego, Frank Auerbach, Joe Tilson, and scores more from the last 2000 years voiced by Jim Broadbent, Ian Holm, Lizzy McInnerny and Tim McInnerny.



Roper Gallery


Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm
Sunday and Bank Holiday 11am to 5pm


£6.95 | Concessions