The Hidden Art Exhibition

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Between June 7 and August 30 2014 we are putting on a show of art works by past Barnsley artists at the Cooper Gallery, Barnsley. This means those who were born in or who were strongly connected with the District. It is the first time that this has ever been done. It will spotlight the brilliance of the achievements by people from Barnsley.

We have discovered over 25 artists so far and we are in the throes of contacting galleries to borrow examples of their original work. We need to organize it so that it is fun, exciting, thrilling, an experience of a lifetime; we want to surprise people by the artists’ originality, by the different ways they have expressed themselves and by beautiful things. We want to show how they worked with the leading national artists of their day. We want to claim for Barnsley some artists who have been acclaimed elsewhere both nationally and internationally. We want to tell stories about what the artists achieved in their lives. Most of all we want to make everyone aware of the inspiring artistic history Barnsley people have.

To do this volunteers devised a plan for the exhibition, dividing it into themes. We then consulted about our proposal with people receiving our newsletter. They gave a very positive response and also offered other useful suggestions. The final exhibition plan is these 5 themes. Some of the artists were so versatile that they are represented in more than one of these themes.

Industry and Art

We have grouped together those artists that came from families who were deeply involved in Barnsley’s industries. We have 18th century glass makers, 19th century linen weavers; and two artists from the early 20th century involved in coal mining or glass design.


Barnsley has produced many portrait painters. We will contrast the different styles of painting and choice of subjects by Tate; Moore; A.Hold; Wortley; Fairley; Shortridge; J.R.Spencer Stanhope.


Many of the artists painted or sketched the outdoors: landscape, old buildings of Barnsley, sporting activity and even birds’ nests. There are stunning contrasts between how past Barnsley artists painted the countryside. There are also artists who travelled abroad, near and far, and we will tell their story.

Decorative arts

Our fourth theme, involves the design and manufacture of functional objects such as furniture, wall paper, tiles, industrial design or features on buildings. This will be difficult to show except by photographs, as often they are bulky or fixed to buildings internally or externally. Barnsley town centre has a lot of decorative art on its buildings and we will put together a ‘Spot decorative arts in Barnsley’ booklet.

Mystery and Worship

In our fifth theme we have artists who did stained glass, church design, church carving and paintings from ancient myths.





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