Masters of modern art

Angi KennedyA Norfolk art gallery has secured an exhibition of work by some of the most respected modern British masters, including Sir Peter Blake, Bruce McLean and Sir Terry Frost.Angi Kennedy

Art lovers Chris and Deborah Harrison, who run Bircham Gallery in Holt Market Place, have put together a month-long exhibition featuring pieces by some of the great names of modern British art - Sir Peter Blake, Bruce McLean and Sir Terry Frost among others.

All works will be for sale - ranging in price from around �500 to �4,000 - and Mr Harrison admitted he might be tempted by some of the pieces himself, as a big fan of the modern British masters.

'They are all artists we have worked with over the years, some I know personally,' he explained. 'I feel greatly enthusiastic about the exhibition - I collect this myself.'

The six highly-acclaimed artists included in the exhibition, which opens on Saturday, January 10, have varying styles that encompass quite distinct aspects of modern British graphic work. They are:


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t Sir Terry Frost, who died in 2003, was one of Britain's most respected and successful abstract artists, his work spanning more than six decades. His work in abstract art began during his time at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts when he began to explore under the influence of the St Ives artists. His first solo show took place in London in 1952 and by the late 1950s he was a leading artist. Printmaking always played a key role in Terry's work: for him, painting and printing were inseparable, with one medium creating ideas for the other. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1992, with a retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy (RA) in 2000 when he was 85.

t Sir Peter Blake has been called 'the godfather of British Pop Art', notoriously famous for The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover and for designing the Live Aid poster in 1985. Over five decades of work have made him one of the leading exponents of the Pop Art movement. He studied at Gravesend School of Art and, following his National Service with the RAF, he attended the Royal College of Art where he graduated with a first class degree in 1956. He went on to teach at several internationally respected art schools. Since the 1970s, his work has been exhibited regularly in solo shows throughout the world and in 1975 he was the founding member of the Brotherhood of Ruralists.

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t Barbara Rae's abstract works use strong colours and composition. She has exhibited internationally and her work can be found in public and private collections around the world. She was elected a Royal Academician in 1996, and still lives and works in Edinburgh where she studied art as a student in the early 1960s. She draws inspiration for her colourful paintings from her many travels around the world, including to Mexico, South African, the 'painted desert' of Arizona, and Italy.

t Donald Hamilton Fraser is a Royal Academician, a trustee of the Academy since 1995, and has participated in many of the most significant exhibitions of British work, including the RA's 25 Years of British Painting. His works have been shown around the world. Of Scottish descent, he has an affinity with French painting from his time spent studying there in the 1950s, creating almost dream-like fields of colour in his abstract landscapes. He applies layers of thick, bright paint with a palette knife to create an almost collage effect in his work.

t Bruce McLean is one of the major figures of contemporary British art. Born in 1944 and a student of Glasgow School of Art and St Martin's in London, he became a teacher at the Slade School of Art and secured an early reputation as a sculptor involved in performance art. His witty, bold and confident approach to printmaking proved influential to his contemporaries and also to a generation of younger artists.

t Sandra Blow, who died in 2006, studied at St Martin's between 1941 and 1946 and then at the Royal Academy School, before leaving for Italy where she met, and was hugely influenced by, Alberto Burri. Burri introduced Sandra to the potentials of collage and the tensions between textures. Her associations with her mentor underpinned Sandra's work throughout her life, though she distilled her own form of reductive abstract expressionism, preoccupied with space, matter and movement.

The special exhibition is expected to attract interest from beyond the county, and the gallery will also have in stock pieces by other great British artists, including Elizabeth Blackadder and John Piper.

The exhibition of Graphic Works by Modern British Masters opens at the Bircham Gallery, Market Place, Holt, runs from January 10 to February 4. The gallery is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Saturday (closed Sundays), and admission is free. Website: www.birchamgallery.co.uk

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