Dorothy Annan and Trevor Tennant

11 Nov 2014 – 1 Mar 2015

Exhibition in the Upper Sculpture Study Gallery, Leeds Art Gallery

Taking a newly acquired archival collection, this exhibition sheds light on the relationship between sculpture and architecture and the role of art in British society following the Second World War in Britain.

Dorothy Annan and Trevor Tennant celebrates the generous donation of the archive by the family of artists Dorothy Annan (1900-83) and Trevor Tennant (1900-80). Bringing together photographs, sketchbooks and exhibition catalogues, the exhibition provides a chronological insight into the artists' practices.

Annan and Tennant were members of the Artists International Association (AIA), a society of artists established in 1932 whose aim was the 'Unity of Artists for Peace, Democracy and Cultural Development'. A left-wing organisation, the group brought together artists and designers to produce pamphlets, posters and public art commissions placing artistic creativity at the heart of everyday life.

Based in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire during the war, Annan and Tennant were also a part of The Artists and Designers Group, which worked on numerous public commissions in hotels, schools and canteens. Their involvement in AIA is crucial to understanding their work, which is usually found in public spaces, drawing on figurative references and embedded within an understanding of art as a force for civic good.

After the war, both Annan and Tennant exhibited their work in commercial exhibitions, while simultaneously pursuing their own projects. Annan developed a highly successful collection of pottery for the furniture company Heal and Son; her sketchbooks, filled with recipes for glazes, can be seen in this exhibition. Tennant produced small-scale figurative bronze sculptures, which were included in the Sculpture in the Home exhibitions organised by the Arts Council that aimed to introduce the public to sculpture in the domestic setting.

The post-war years offered the artists the opportunity to work on several large-scale public commissions. Both Annan and Tennant collaborated closely with the London County Council Patronage of the Arts Scheme, for which Annan produced a school mural in London, while Tennant created sculptures for a school and playground.

Tennant designed architectural reliefs for Coventry, which at the time was undergoing redesign following extensive bombing during the war. Annan produced mosaics for schools in London and Newcastle, as well as public murals, her most famous being the London General Post Office headquarters at the Fleet Building.

The Dorothy Annan and Trevor Tennant archive joined the Henry Moore Institute Archive of Sculptors' Papers in 2012. A part of Leeds Museum and Galleries, the Archive is managed in a unique partnership that has built one of the strongest public collections of sculpture in Britain.

Venue details

Venue address

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
United Kingdom
T: 0113 246 7467

Opening times

Galleries: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Research Library: Monday to Friday, 10am - 5pm
Archive of Sculptors' Papers: Tuesday to Friday, by prior appointment

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