10 January-29 October 2015
The Atkinson, Lord Street, Southport PR8 1DB

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then Rediscoveries at The Atkinson is on to a winner.

The exhibition, which opens on 10 January and runs into October, showcases treasures from the gallery’s collections. some of which haven’t been seen for the best part of a century.

Alongside more familiar works, including sculptures by Henry Moore and Elizabeth Frink, there are paintings by Southport-born artist Philip Connard, who painted murals at Windsor Castle and has paintings in the collections of the Tate, the Musee d’Orsay and the Art Institute of Chicago but is now little known.

But perhaps most exciting are two works whose true origins have only just been discovered.

A painting previously labelled as ‘unknown artist landscape’ has been revealed to be by CRW Nevinson, one of the most famous artists of WW1 and the only major British artist to champion the Futurist movement. Depicting Limehouse docks in East London, the artist revisited the scene five years later to create a famous 1918 version called Southwark (Limehouse).

The painting was originally from the collections of the Bootle Art Gallery and Museum, which closed in the 1974. Discovered in bad condition and listed as a work by an unknown artist, it is thought that the painting has been in storage since the 1920s.

Its true provenance was uncovered by The Atkinson museum and gallery manager Stephen Whittle, when he spotted the image on the BBC’s Your Paintings website, which catalogues thousands of works from the UK’s national collections.

He said: “I was doing my research before attending an interview at The Atkinson, where I very much hoped to become their gallery manager. When I saw the unknown image on the BBC website, it was very reminiscent of Nevinson and as soon as I tracked down a picture of the later version, a mezzotint engraving that Nevinson made in 1918, I knew I was right. I mentioned my supposition at interview, but I don’t know if it led to me finally getting the job!”

Conservation work later revealed the artist’s signature and also several previous compositions underneath the top layer. Said Stephen: “This shows that the artist’s mind was in a state of flux at the time, he was working his ideas out on the canvas ”. The painting has now been restored and reframed for the exhibition.

Another significant and previously unattributed work was also discovered via the BBC Your Paintings website. Listed simply as ‘unknown artist, Florence’, keen online art detectives spotted the telling presence of a red London bus, drawing into question the setting of the painting.

The artist was later identified as French painter Jacques Emile Blanche, friend to the novelist Marcel Proust, who lived and exhibited in London and Paris. The work has been retitled ‘London Bridge’ and given an estimated date of 1905-1914.

Other rediscovered gems included in the exhibition include figure drawings by Augustus John, prints and Frank Brangwyn and the early modernism of Keith Vaughan and Michael Ayrton.

‘Sefton has an excellent art collection and it’s very exciting to be unearthing and exhibiting artworks that have been over-looked for so long.’

The original Atkinson Art Gallery and Library opened in 1878, following a £6,000 donation by William Atkinson, a cotton manufacturer from Knaresborough, North Yorkshire and a frequent visitor to Southport. In May 2013, The Atkinson re-launched as a theatre, studio, cafe, shop, exhibitions space, gallery, library and museum.

For more information on The Atkinson’s exhibitions please visit online at or by calling Box Office on 01704 533333.


Saturday 10 January
The Atkinson

*Please be advised that there is a £2 booking fee for telephone and online sales.

The Atkinson
Lord Street
In person: Visit The Atkinson box office on Lord Street
For tickets: visit the website or call box office on 01704 533333
Notes to Editors
For more information, interviews, images or review tickets, please contact Emma Lloyd at The Atkinson on 0151 934 2129 |
About The Atkinson
The Atkinson is Southport’s beautiful new home for music, theatre, art, poetry, literature and history, right in the middle of Lord Street in Southport. Significant investment has been made in refurbishing the stunning 19th century buildings, to create a really welcoming multi art-form venue with a strong contemporary feel.
The Atkinson offers an exciting and varied destination for families, cultural tourists and arts enthusiasts alike, with a full day and night time offer. Wile the day away visiting the new shop, that sells gifts and contemporary crafts from regional makers and then relax in the Bakery, choosing from a selection of artisan bread sandwiches, cakes and sharing platters. You can even take little bit of The Atkinson home with you from the delicatessen. Wonder through the major exhibitions and see performances from some of the UK’s foremost musicians, actors, performers and companies, films, family activities and much more.

Posted on 18 December 2014 under Exhibition

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