Never having visited Bournemouth, it was with some curiosity that I arrived at the Russell-Cotes to deliver 4 works to support a new exhibition based around their collection. Stripped – The Body Beautiful opens on 10th June (until 1st January 2012) and the gallery which houses the sculptures is painted a rich chocolate-brown which shows off the light stones well. The centre piece, Lewes Group was made from a 1.5 tonne block of limestone.
Their collection includes work by sculptor Kathleen Scott; Lady Kennett after remarriage following the death of her Antarctic explorer husband. Her bust of George Bernard Shaw seemed to echo the thoughts of a sculptor nervously waiting for Lewes Group to be man-handled down a narrow, steep cliff-side slope into an off-camber entrance on a small wheeled dolly, but the professional R. Samson and Sons team coped rather admirably with their strange cargo.
The Russell-Cotes is dramatic, exuberant and the variety of styles envelops a veritable cornucopia that is now a mixture of both private house and public museum. Created by two dedicated collectors, it of national importance and has Government funding under the Renaissance programme to transform our regional museums.
Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays (closed Good Friday & Christmas Day) from 10am – 5pm. Sadly it now has an admission fee, but there is a lot there to see to justify it. Russell Cotes Road, East Cliff, Bournemouth BH1 3AA