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John Piper: The Fabric of Modernism

The move to abstraction by one of British art’s most versatile creators is celebrated and explored in an extraordinary new show at Jerwood Gallery, Hastings.


Inspired by the Jerwood Foundation’s acquisition of Beach and Starfish – Seven Sister’s Cliff, Eastbourne in 2014, In Focus: John Piper – An Eye for the Modern will bring together over 30 works, spanning 30 years (1930s-1960s). Many of the works on display have been lent by private collectors and will be on display alongside loans from the Imperial War Museum and Towner Art Gallery.

Opening on 2 March 2016 and running through to 8 May, the exhibition is an insight into one of the 20th century’s most interesting and prolific artists and offers visitors the opportunity to see seldom exhibited works.  The display will include paintings, prints, tapestries and theatre set designs.

Also running concurrently is a sister exhibition, John Piper and Jack-in-the-Green. This will display 15 of Piper’s Foliate Head works, in a variety of mediums, alongside contemporary photographs of Hastings’ annual Jack-in-the-Green festival (which is held on the first May Bank Holiday each year).

Piper’s foliate or ‘leafy’ head works are one of the most distinctive themes that run through his work and are based on the traditional figure of the Green Man, found in the architecture of medieval and 19th-century buildings.

“There is both a local and national interest in the artist who was inspired by the landscape and architecture of Sussex and Kent. His very broad skill set allowed him to be prolific in a number of genres, which the exhibition seeks to reflect. The timing of the exhibition is pertinent, as it comes when two new books appraising Piper’s life and work are set to be published and interest in his career is reawakening.” Liz Gilmore, Jerwood Gallery Director

2016 is very much John Piper’s year, as Pallant House Gallery in Chichester presents John Piper: The Fabric of Modernism (opens 12 March) which considers for the first time his role as an accomplished designer of modern textiles and tapestries.

To find out more about Jerwood Gallery’s exhibition and 2016 programme, visit or follow them on Twitter @jerwoodgallery, Instagram @jerwood_gallery and Facebook @JerwoodGallery.

Image credit: John Piper, Beach and Star Fish – Seven Sister’s Cliff, Eastbourne, 1933-34 copyright The Piper Estate / DACS 2015

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