Lucy Walker a new reviewer for BBS aent this review of The Dulwich Picture Gallery………………


‘Tucked away in leafy Dulwich in south east London, Dulwich Picture Gallery is a hidden gem of a gallery. It’s certainly worth a visit for any art lovers who’ve not yet been; the first purpose-built public art gallery in the UK, its collection is full of Old Masters such as Rembrandt, Canaletto, Poussin, Veronese and Rubens.

The elegant single storey building, dating back to 1811, sits in the middle of a manicured park lined with trees and plenty of benches; perfect for a stroll and a rest after your visit! In the UK we’re used to free entry to many of our museums and galleries, so it’s worth noting before your visit that this isn’t the case in Dulwich. Entry to the main collection is £9 for adults, £8 for senior citizens, and free for concessions (which includes disabled, Art Pass holders, students and unemployed).

Aside from the core collection, which will please lovers of 17th and 18th century painting, DPG’s exhibitions are a refreshing alternative to the repetitive repertoire of central London’s big galleries, who seem to rotate the same high profile artists: Picasso, Matisse, Hockney, Van Gogh, the Impressionists. In contrast, Dulwich exhibitions are always an education; artists you’ve barely heard of are given some well deserved exposure in beautifully curated spaces. Recent exhibitions have focused on stylish 20th century British artists, such as Winifred Knights, Vanessa Bell and Eric Ravilious.

The current Edward Bawden exhibition is in keeping with this 20th century aesthetic. It aims “to re-introduce Bawden as a hugely versatile artist, who effortlessly pushed the boundaries between fine and commercial art” – and it succeeds in doing so. Bawden was a skilled watercolour painter, illustrator, printmaker and designer, and all of these aspects are brought together in a colourful and charming retrospective. I was particularly moved by the mournful paintings Bawden produced as an official artist during World War 2. His commercial designs are also full of integrity and humour, such as this poster for the London Underground:

Edward Bawden at Dulwich Picture Gallery - Commercial Art For London Underground
Edward Bawden at Dulwich Picture Gallery – Commercial Art For London Underground

I can recommend the gallery cafe, which is loved by locals and serves very good coffee and cake. It’s situated in a bright and airy extension to the main gallery, looking out over the park. The lunch menu currently features retro Edward Bawden inspired dishes such as corned beef hash, roast tomato and poached egg or toad in the hole (both £10.50), which is a nice touch. The soup of the day is £6, while salmon fishcakes and lemon and thyme chicken (£11) are at the pricier end of the menu. All mains are served with a seasonal salad, and other sides are available to order separately. You can view the menu online before your visit.

In terms of accessibility, a lot of thought has clearly gone into the gallery’s modern refurbishments. There is step-free access throughout, because the original building – and its modern extension – are all on ground level. There’s a wheelchair accessible toilet next to the cafe. The main entrances have automatic doors, and comfortable benches are provided throughout the galleries. A foldable stool is also available from reception should you require one. There’s also a small car park for disabled use only, which is essential because the nearby train stations have no step-free access. I think DPG has earned itself a coveted 3 BBS Ticks for accessibility with style!

Edward Bawden is on until 9th September 2018. Entry to the exhibition is £16.50 for adults, £15.50 for senior citizens, £8 for concessions (including disabled, students and Art Pass holders) and free for carers and under 18s.’

Dulwich Picture Gallery is open 10am-5pm, Tuesday to Saturday & more information on accessibility can be found here.

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