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Nordic by nature at Old Gala House

A British Museum touring exhibition ‘Nordic by nature: modern design and prints’ comes to cool us down at Old Gala House this August!

Artists and designers have long been inspired by the varied and dramatic landscapes of the Nordic countries. A British Museum touring exhibition ‘Nordic by nature: modern design and prints’ explores how nature and landscape are at the heart of Finnish, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian art and design. The exhibition is being brought to Galashiels and will be on display at Old Gala House until Thursday 31 October.

Natural spectacles, from the bewitching aurora borealis to the white nights of the frozen north, as well as local materials like birch wood, have contributed to a distinctly Nordic aesthetic. ‘Nordic by nature: modern design and prints’ uses the British Museum’s collection to look at how Finnish, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian artists and designers have created distinctive objects and imagery that are rooted in the culture, traditions and industries of those nations and often embody national pride.

Forty-four remarkable British Museum objects and works on paper will illustrate how these artists and designers have been drawn to common themes. Exhibition highlights include pioneering pieces by one of the leading figures in Finnish design, glassmaker Tapio Wirkkala (1915–1985), which resemble melting, cracked or carved ice and are shown against prints of stark icy landscapes.

Visitors will also see examples by Finnish basket-maker, Markku Kosonen (1945–2010). These works in birch bark brilliantly adapt traditional forms to create modern works of art and are displayed alongside traditional plaited birch bark bags, still made today as expressions of cultural and national identity.

Additionally, the exhibition brings together a range of Swedish prints, ceramics, and glass works from Småland, which is known as the Kingdom of Crystal. On display will be experimental and minimalist works from Denmark, including Erik Magnussen’s (1940–2014) revolutionary table wares of the 1960s and Per Kirkeby’s (1938–2018) light-hearted print, Telephone rings (1964).

With the support of the Dorset Foundation, in memory of Harry M Weinrebe, the exhibition is travelling to four UK venues from May 2019 to May 2020: Weston Park Museum, Sheffield; Old Gala House, Galashiels; Thurso Art Gallery, Thurso; and Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar – so we are very happy to bring this quality exhibition to the Borders.

Joe Edwards, Head of National Programmes at the British Museum said:

“We are delighted that Nordic by nature is travelling to Old Gala House as the second venue of this national tour. The display demonstrates how renowned Nordic artists and designers have responded to their particular natural environments through beautiful objects and artworks. The touring exhibition is a wonderful opportunity for the public in Galashiels to see and appreciate fantastic examples of Nordic creativity from the British Museum collection.”

Phoebe Stewart, our Assistant Curator, said:

“I am absolutely thrilled to be able to work collaboratively with British Museum on the ‘Nordic by nature’ exhibition. It’s a unique opportunity not only for us as an organisation but for the Scottish Borders as a whole. Combining the experience of our staff and the British Museum staff to create this stunning exhibition, our aim to make our communities healthier, happier and stronger is also showcased by exhibiting some of our local Borders artists alongside internationally acclaimed work.”

The exhibition opening was attended by Scottish author, broadcaster and journalist, Muriel Gray and the exhibition will be on display at Old Gala House until Thursday 31 October. Admission free, donations welcome. Find out more here.

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