‘This room is chiefly devoted to prints,’ says Barbara Rae, its hanger, ‘though we also have drawings, watercolours and the occasional oil. Better describe the contents as being graphic and behind glass.’ Rae is keen to stress that most exhibits here are prints since ‘visitors might not realise that what they’re looking at is part of an edition. The red dots indicate how many examples of the same image have been sold.’ (Rae, by the way, is self-effacing enough not to have included anything of her own here; her prints and paintings can be seen in Gallery III and the Large Weston Room.)
One wall is dominated by a large drawing, a triptych, by Michael Sandle. It’s called Expulsion from Paradise and shows a naked Tony and Cherie Blair in front of 10 Downing Street, confronted by mayhem and a pile of corpses. Decidedly unpolitical and Romantic in the English tradition, on the other hand, is a group of watercolours by Christopher Le Brun, in most of which an enigmatic modern monument almost merges with the landscape. There’s also a large drawing of soldiers during the First World War at a place called Moo Cow Farm on the Somme. This is the work of Chris Orr, one of whose grandfathers was there.
Gillian Ayres is showing three striking prints. They’re hand-coloured carborundums, an unusual technique which produces images as fresh and immediate as original paintings. The sculpture here is as varied as the prints: a granite circle by John Maine, a stack of broken wooden chairs together with a child’s rearranged wooden trike by Judy Milner, Miranda Eland’s stamp-covered chair, and David Hensel’s Bad Dog, a sardonic comment on the fate of another sculpture by the same artist in last year’s exhibition. Inexplicably, only the plinth was shown, to the amusement of the tabloid press.