Home » Exhibitions » Exhibition Review : Maggi Hambling – Touch: works on paper at the British Museum from 8th September 2016 to 29th January 2017

Exhibition Review : Maggi Hambling – Touch: works on paper at the British Museum from 8th September 2016 to 29th January 2017



Maggi Hambling is considered one of Britain’s foremost contemporary figurative artists and this exhibition considers how the practice of drawing is often at the heart of her work. The exhibition takes its title ‘Touch’ from the concept of a deep connection with the subject which is fundamental to Hambling’s approach.


Hambling studied at the Ipswich Art School, Camberwell and the Slade, she is probably best known for her public sculpture: Oscar Wilde (1998, near Trafalgar Square) and Scallop, (2003, Aldeburgh Beach, Suffolk),  The British Museum was the first national institution to collect extensively Hambling’s works on paper. In 1985 the Museum acquired the drawing of her former teacher Cedric Morris on his deathbed and acquired other works over the past 30 years.


This exhibition examines Hambling’s drawings and prints, many of which have never been exhibited before, from early student drawings and etchings, to portraits of artist and critic John Berger and actor Stephen Fry.  ‘Touch’ consists of forty works, around a quarter from British Museum’s own collection, with loans from private collections, the National Portrait Gallery and Tate. The remaining works will be from Hambling’s personal collection.


Walking around the exhibition suggests that Hambling is attracted to forces of nature both in a human and a natural sense. Some of her very early drawings from the 1960s and 1970s include the striking ink drawing of Rosie, the stuffed Indian rhinoceros in Ipswich Museum, which she considers ‘her first portrait’. Often compared to Francis Bacon, Hambling often tends to divides opinion but few can argue that many of the drawings are dynamic and full of life. The drawing of former teacher Cedric Morris on his deathbed is one of the few that suggests peace and tenderness.


In recent years Hambling has undertaken a number of acclaimed drawings and paintings of the sea, it is in these drawings that artist manages to relate the incredible power of the waves and water in ways that few could match. The exhibition concludes with a recent work made in 2015, from a new series entitled Edge which addresses global warming.


This intriguing free exhibition allows visitors the opportunity to consider the works of Maggi Hambling ranging from the 1960s up to the present day. The artist considers she was greatly influenced by the years she spent in the British Museum Study Room examining the work of Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Van Gogh and the show will mark a major donation by the artist to the British Museum of around fifteen of her works.

This free exhibition runs from the 8th September 2016 to 29th January 2017.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

 If you would like more information visit the British Museum website here

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