Preston: Harris Museum and Art Gallery


Preston’s public library, museum, exhibition space and art gallery under one wonderful roof. I only had time for a coffee in the atrium café and a quick look at some old favourites. Unfortunately the Stanley Spencer was off touring, but, true to my word on modern art, I gave the Frank Auerbach and Sir Matthew Smith a go . . . and returned to Pauline in the Yellow Dress. Stagey, but highly effective:


Pauline in the Yellow Dress by Sir James Gunn (her husband), oil on canvas, 1944

Even the dog can’t take his eyes off her!

The Harris also has a couple of paintings by Tristram Hillier, and I concentrated on January Landscape, Somerset, painted 1962, oil on canvas:


It’s something and nothing. Hillier was influenced by the surrealists, and one wonders if there’s more in its meticulously rendered detail than meets the eye.

And finally, finger ring bottles, designed to be filled with perfume and worn on a woman’s finger at a ball so that her hand warmed the perfume. Just when you thought women’s attire couldn’t get more elaborate or fussy .  .  .


It was a little depressing to learn that there had recently been a break-in to steal the donations box on the ground floor. Another sign of the times?

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