Sykehouse Cottage

A beautiful C17th Holiday Cottage in the Lake District


Hepworth at Abbot Hall

We are hepworth abbot hallvery excited at Sykehouse Cottage as Abbot Hall comes up trumps again and brings a stunning collection of Barbara Hepworth sculpture to Kendal for their Summer Exhibition from 5 July to 28 September.  Apart from Barbara Hepworth: A Retrospective at Tate Liverpool in 1994, this is the first significant exhibition of her work in the North West for over sixty years. It will contain some of Hepworth’s most iconic sculptures including Stringed Figure (Curlew), 1956, Torso III (Galatea), 1958, and Moon Form, 1968, alongside prints, photographs and ephemera detailing the artist’s life long relationship with the landscape. Lakeland Arts are working closely with the Hepworth Estate to secure key works as well as borrowing from national institutions for this important exhibition.

The landscape provided unending inspiration for Hepworth’s art.  And perhaps you will be inspired by the beautiful Lakeland landscape when you next visit?

Kendal is 30 miles (about 45mins drive)  from Sykehouse Cottage and is well worth a day trip for Abbot Hall, Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry, of course,  and numerous shops and coffee houses …

If you would like to know more about Abbot Hall Art Gallery click here.


George Romney : The Gower Family Portrait

Gower Family George RomneyAbbots Hall in Kendal is a hard working and welcoming museum.  By that I mean it really makes the most of what it has got and attracts good touring exhibitions to grace its top floor.  It has one permanent star artist, George Romney (1734-1802), who was born in Dalton-in-Furness and trained under a portrait painter, Christopher Steele, in Kendal before moving to London. His masterpiece: The Gower Family: The Children of Granville, 2nd Earl Gower, (c 1776-7) is in Abbots Hall.  This huge (203 x235cm) group portrait shows the older half sister, Anne, shaking her tambourine (on the right). The younger children dancing in a circle are his son and daughters from a third marriage.  Yes, that’s a son staring directly at us from behind the middle dancing girl – not “breeched” yet as he is still in a dress. From left to right: Georgina, Susan, Granville and Charlotte Sophia. Romney had recently visited Italy and this work shows his up-to-the-minute interest in classical themes and poses with the dancing “Arcadian” children and antique column behind. Close up, the faces are wonderfully vivid portraits, full of character and life, however Granville’s body and arm don’t match the tilt of his head and the body is curiously unfinished compared to the rest of the family.  I was guessing the children only sat for head portraits and maybe some full body sketches and that the details were added in at leisure.  Was it finished off by an inept apprentice?  Or was the patron impatient? Perhaps this background was considered unimportant? Or was it just a small fidgety boy?

I contacted the very helpful Romney Society and their Research Fellow, Alex Kidson, said that probably Granville was a late addition to the composition; his parents may have originally thought that at three years old he was too young to sit.

In his early 30s, Granville was painted again by another renowned artist, Thomas Lawrence, during his time as British Ambassador to Russia.  This time he stood still.  Thomas Lawrence Granville Gower

If you would like to visit Abbots Hall and need more information, here’s their website.


Blackwell : Baille Scott’s masterpiece

Blackwell Exterior -®LATRecently restored, Blackwell was built in 1900 as a holiday retreat for a wealthy Manchester brewery owner, just south of Bowness overlooking Windermere.  (About 30 minutes drive from Sykehouse Cottage on the eastern side of Windermere.)  The house is of international importance and was given a Grade 1 listing in 1998.  So, although it’s quite expensive to visit (£7.20 Adults; Children up to 16 Free), it is DEFINITELY worth the money if you are interested in the Arts and Crafts.

It is a truly wonderful example of Arts and Crafts architecture, with many original decorative features still intact and there is a school of thought that Blackwell is such a complete vision precisely because it was built as a holiday home in the Lake District rather than a day to day residence.  Think about it: who could live up to the designer’s perfect vision 24 – 7Blackwell dining room stained glass -®LAT?

The rooms are carefully furnished with the blend of Arts and Crafts and early country-made furniture advocated by Baillie Scott, containing many pieces by the leading Arts & Crafts designers and studios – furniture by Morris & Co and Voysey, metalwork by W A S Benson and ceramics by Ruskin Pottery and William de Morgan.

The curators want you to experience this first hand and, deliciously, visitors are encouraged to sit and soak up the atmosphere in the beautiful fireplace inglenooks and are free to enjoy the house as it was originally intended, without roped-off areas.

Blackwell The White Drawing Room -®LAT

The White Drawing Room

The house also run a series of well curated exhibitions and displays, usually with an Arts and Crafts feel, throughout the year and have a lovely Tea Room.

The first show of the year is called New Glass – Ancient Skill, Contemporary Artform.  With a selection from the UK and Europe, the selling exhibition includes the work of established and emerging makers as well as drawings, models and photographic documentation of processes.  Works will be shown in the exhibition galleries and through the house itself.  The show is the first collaboration between the Lakeland Arts Trust and the Contemporary Glass Society and runs from 31st January to 12th May 2013.

Further details can be found by visiting Blackwell’s own site here.