The Art of Lawson Wood comes to Monkwearmouth Station Museum

Colourful Characters - The Art of Lawson Wood, a new special exhibition runs from Saturday 6 December 2014 until Sunday 8 March 2015 at Monkwearmouth Station Museum.

The artist Lawson Wood asked that a number of his original drawings should be presented to Sunderland Museum and Art Gallery because he had held his first one man exhibition there in 1932. This exhibition aims to reintroduce visitors to his world of, humorous and colourful characters.

Wood’s work is usually in ink and watercolour and most of it is humorous in style and content. He is best known for his delightful studies of children, attractive landscapes and military sketches. Arguably his most popular creation was the orang-utan, Gran’pop, introduced in the 1930s.

Clarence Lawson Wood was born in Highgate, London in 1878. Both his father and grandfather were artists and he began to draw at an early age and at the age of 16 he went to the Slade School of Fine Art. Wood went on to become a commercial artist who contributed work to many periodicals in the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

During active service Lawson Wood continued to draw and had various patriotic designs published. As a member of the Kite Balloon Wing of the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War his duties included plane spotting from a balloon. For his actions over Vimy Ridge in 1917 he was decorated for gallantry by the French.

He was a regular visitor to London Zoo, his observation of the animals contributed to the accuracy and detail in his illustrations. Two years after his first one-man show his love of animals was recognised by the Royal Zoological Society who awarded him a fellowship in 1934 for his work with animals and their welfare. He also designed his own range of wooden animal toys and also established a sanctuary for aged creatures.

Also on display, as part of the exhibition is a portrait of the artist painted in 1936 by Phoebe Sholto Douglas which is usually held at the Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.

Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, Councillor John Kelly said: “I’d encourage anyone to come along and visit this exhibition. This fantastic selection of colourful and fun watercolours will no doubt bring great delight to visitors of all ages.

"It also speaks volumes that the artist never forgot the opportunity given to him by Sunderland to hold his first one man exhibition here over 80 years ago. I’m pleased to say that the city must have certainly left a good impression on him."

Cllr Kelly added: “This year we have shown the winners of the BP Portrait Award, from the National Portrait Gallery and from July –September 2015 Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens will host a much-loved work from the National Gallery Collection – Canaletto’s A Regatta on the Grand Canal as part of the Masterpiece Tour. With the recent announcement regarding the much anticipated developments at the old fire station, the cultural offer of the city continues to grow. This exhibition is yet another fantastic example of how Sunderland is now a nationally recognised venue for high profile events and activities."

Find out more about the 'Colourful Characters - The Art of Lawson Wood' exhibition.

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Did you know?

L.S. Lowry spent his holidays in Sunderland at Seaburn, painting scenes of the coast, port and coal mines. The city is the home to one of the best collections of L.S. Lowry paintings in England.


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