About Time: an exhibition of drawings, prints and poetry
24 February - 30 May 2000
The Courtaulds millennium exhibition brought together drawings, prints and poetry in an exploration of the ways in which artists and poets have considered the passage of time. The exhibition is the latest in a of a series of innovative exhibitions curated by Sarah Hyde, which has included the highly successful Material Evidence and Value of Art exhibitions.
About Time included around 40 Old Master drawings and prints, including works by Rembrandt, Manet, Watteau, Gauguin, Pontormo and Toulouse-Lautrec, among others, drawn from the Courtaulds world-class collection of 34,000 works on paper.
The exhibition was divided into themes on the central nature of time to human experience and artistic expression. Times of Day began with the Dawn (Guercinos beautiful red chalk personification of Aurora) and took us through Noon, Evening and Night; The Seasons moves through the year as marked by changing agricultural labours in the countryside (including Breughels witty print of harvest time), whilst The Ages of Man begins with Birth (Rembrandts tender portrait of his wife with their first born child) and moves through Childhood and Youth to Maturity and Old Age, and finally Death, as recorded by Roger Frys moving study of his father on his deathbed. A further section examines the ways in which art is used to conquer time, including the power of portraits, nature studies and still lifes to preserve the ephemeral.
Poems range from Shakespeare to Seamus Heaney, from John Clare to Philip Larkin and were intended to develop and complement the themes in the works of art rather than illustrate them. Poems were displayed alongside the works and more are available to be read and contemplated while sitting or walking around the exhibition.
A booklet was published by the Gallery to accompany the exhibition containing a selection of the poetry and pictures.