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From Tonbridge to Tate: Exhibition of the life and work of Anthony Whishaw RA

An exhibition opening at Tonbridge School’s Old Big School Gallery in September will celebrate the life and career of artist Anthony Whishaw. 

From Tonbridge to Tate, which opens to the public on Sunday 19 September, is an introduction to Anthony’s work and a chance for the Tonbridge community to discover more about an intriguing and influential figure who, at the age of 91, still paints daily.

Anthony attended Tonbridge School as a boy (MH 1944-48) and the exhibition includes several works that were created at this time, including cartoons of staff and very early paintings that he has never exhibited to the public until now. 

His work, which deals with explorations of memory and experience, can be found in many prestigious international collections including The Royal Collection and the Tate Gallery; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; the National Gallery of Wales; Seattle Museum of Art, USA and Sharjah Museum, UAE, to name but a few. 

Anthony has many awards to his name, covering the decades from the 1950s to the 1990s. These include the South East Arts Association Painting Prize (1975), Arts Council of Great Britain Award (1978), Greater London Council Painting Prize (1981) and John Moores Minor Painting Prize (1982).

Selina Skipwith, Independent Curator and Art Advisor, said: “It has been a great privilege to curate this exhibition. It is not often that one gets the chance to exhibit the work of a Senior Royal Academician in the school he attended as a boy, and which was instrumental to starting and supporting him on his artistic career.

“The planning for this exhibition has made Anthony reflect on how important his time at Tonbridge was, and how much of his practice has its roots in his time at school. 

“He remains forever grateful to the school for awarding him the Judd scholarship in his final year. This enabled him at the age of 18 to move to London and begin his studies at Chelsea School of Art, and from there on to the Royal College of Art where he studied alongside Frank Auerbach and Bridget Riley.” 

Selina added: “Anthony hopes that his journey From Tonbridge to Tate will inspire current and future students to embark on their own artistic journeys.”

In addition to the main exhibition, two other events are taking place (bookings needed): a Family Workshop on Sunday 10 October, and an evening talk with Curator Selina Skipwith on Thursday 4 November. 

No booking is needed for the exhibition, with all welcome. The public viewing times are below. 

* From Tonbridge to Tate: An Exhibition of the Life and Work of Old Tonbridgian, Anthony Whishaw RA

19 September – 7 November 2021
Old Big School Gallery, Tonbridge School, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1JP. 

19 September - Open to Public – 12pm-4pm
25-26 September - Open to Public – 12pm-4pm 
3 October - Open to Public – 12pm-4pm
9 October - Open to Public – 12pm-4pm
10 October - Family Workshop – 12pm-4pm (See below). Exhibition open until 4pm
17 October - Open to Public – 12pm-4pm
23-24 October - Open to Public – 12pm-4pm
30-31 October - Open to Public – 12pm-4pm
7 November - Open to Public – 12pm-4pm
2 December - Evening Talk, Selina Skipwith, Cawthorne Lecture Theatre – 7pm (See below). Gallery open from 6.30pm on this day.

Family Workshop
Inspired by the exhibition, the workshop will focus on the environment, a recurring theme in Whishaw’s work. Participants will use recycled materials to create an image exploring the impact we have on the natural environment and how we can protect it. 

This is a fun and experimental workshop suitable for children aged four and above. 

Evening Talk (Cawthorne Lecture Theatre)
Curator and Art Consultant Selina Skipwith will discuss the life and work of Old Tonbridgian Anthony Whishaw RA, to accompany and further elaborate on the exhibition. The talk will cover Whishaw’s highly successful and varied practice from its earliest beginnings as student at Tonbridge School to the present, still painting every day in his studio at the age of 91.

Tickets are free, with booking via the EM Forster Theatre.

Pictured above and below: Anthony Whishaw, past and present, and a few of his many works.