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Lightbox Gallery and Museum Celebrate Michael Ayrton: A Centenary Exhibition

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The Lightbox gallery and museum is pleased to present a medium scale retrospective of prolific artist and polymath Michael Ayrton (1921-75) in celebration of his centenary year guest curated by Andrew Lambirth in collaboration with The Ingram Collection. 
Ayrton was a hugely skilled painter whose work epitomises the mid-twentieth century world of English music and literature, whose landscapes proclaim the beauties of the English countryside, and who was obsessed with the Greek myths of Icarus and Daedalus, the Minotaur, and Demeter and Kore. The exhibition will highlight how Ayrton used drawing and sculpture to bring greater conviction to his vision and will include major paintings as well as examples of his stage designs and book illustrations. The artist’s remarkable and wide-ranging talents make him a key, but underexplored, figure in post-war British art.
Guest curated by writer, curator and critic Andrew Lambirth, the exhibition is mounted in collaboration with The Ingram Collection, and drawn from public and private collections, from the Artist’s Estate and from the chief dealer in Ayrton’s work, Keith Chapman in Scarborough.
Celebrating Michael Ayrton: A Centenary (29 May – 8 August 2021) celebrates the artistic career of artist and polymath Michael Ayrton in his centenary year. Ayrton was a painter, draughtsman, stage-designer, illustrator, printmaker and sculptor as well as a writer in the roles of critic, art historian, novelist and poet. He was also a popular broadcaster. The exhibition features examples of his work from across artistic mediums and features key loan works from national collections such as the Tate, the Arts Council and the V&A, together with various regional public galleries.  Such a range of Ayrton’s work hasn’t been shown since his memorial retrospective in 1977. 
Ayrton made art which is full of stories, as might be expected of an artist who was also a skilful novelist, but his paintings and sculpture also work on many levels of formal invention and aesthetic delight. Although often considered a highly intellectual artist, his work — as can be seen in this exhibition — makes a popular appeal through its profound rootedness in human passions and preoccupations. This centenary exhibition brings together rarely seen paintings from public collections with drawings and sculptures belonging to private owners, and offers a timely reassessment of one of the most intriguing and overlooked of Modern British artists.
Celebrating Michael Ayrton: A Centenary Exhibition will be on show at The Lightbox in Woking, Surrey, from 29 May – 8 August 2021. The exhibition will be accompanied by a selection of engaging talks, tours and creative workshops.