Beatrix Potter: Passions in Paint

From a young age,

Beatrix Potter had a remarkable artistic instinct and sharp attention to detail. In artworks from her childhood and early adulthood she manages to capture the essence of what she was drawing, as well as showing us today what she was passionate about in her own life. Mycology, archaeology, natural history – discover the early interest of Beatrix Potter in this expanded exhibition – Passions in Paint.

Beatrix Potter

was first given a paintbox by her father’s friend, the artist John Everett Millais. This, alongside a great deal of time spent in London visiting places such as the Natural History Museum and holidays to the country, inspired her love for nature and the world around her. There were also many hours to enjoy whiling away perfecting her skill in painting. Perhaps the combination of people her family encountered and her thirst for knowledge, helped to generate her wide-ranging interests, including in archaeology.

Archaeological Works

The Armitt is privileged to hold a number of archaeological works by Beatrix Potter showing various items such as pottery, leather, and metalwork from excavations around London in the 1890s. She gave these pieces to The Armitt after having visited the library and museum’s display on the Roman finds from the Ambleside Roman Fort in the early 20th century.

Then, upon her death

in 1943, The Armitt received over 300 of Beatrix’s fungi artworks. Throughout the 1880s and 1890s, Beatrix dedicated a great deal of time to research, foraging, collecting, and painting specimens from across her holiday locations in Scotland and the Lake District. We regularly rotate the artworks on show and many of them have toured nationally and internationally. During 2022, a selection were placed at the V&A for their exhibition “Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature” and now they are due to be taken across to America throughout 2023 and 2024 to be displayed at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and then the Morgan Library and Museum in New York.

NEW FOR 2023

Discover the beautifully stitched textile works of Sarah Charmain on display within the Beatrix Potter exhibition.

The process of transforming a woollen yarn into a woven piece of fabric, or a single embroidery thread into a beautiful form to cherish has always fascinated Sarah.  Since graduating from the University of Cumbria in 2010 with a BA (Hons) in Contemporary Applied Arts, this process has developed and grown and she now draws upon inspiration from fragments

found in nature, fairy tales, and folklore that can be explored through stitch and vintage found objects – She has a love of things that resemble a timeless historical quality that have a story to tell. The idea of natural containers, such as mushrooms are portrayed in her work as jewels and charms of nature. Most of the pieces she creates use recycled materials, which seem to add more authenticity and charm, a story that can be sewn or woven in, and this also being environmentally conscious. mainly items foraged and collected within the Lake District and treasured items from past generations of her family. 

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