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Buxton museum exhibition reveals stories of colonialism, war and oppression

Published: 4 February 2020

An exhibition of art that shines a spotlight on a time when communities and artists were affected by war and persecution is planned at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.

Inuit soapstone shaman face pendant
Inuit soapstone shaman face pendant on display at Buxton Museum.

Between Two Worlds opens at our museum and art gallery in Terrace Road, Buxton on Saturday 15 February 2020.

The exhibition explores the early to mid-20th century when colonial governments sought to impose Western society and religion on others, depriving communities of their cultural identity.

In the turmoil of a warring Europe, artists were persecuted, interned and displaced. Even within the art world, artists faced discrimination and prejudice when not conforming to society’s expectations on religious beliefs, racism or sexuality.

Between Two Worlds explores the art created during this tumultuous period featuring work by:

  • John Minton
  • Fred Ulhman
  • Josef Herman
  • Ben Enwonwu

It draws exhibits from our own collection, such as the bequest of Arto Funduklian, the son of Armenian emigres, which includes work by:

  • Marc Chagall
  • Duncan Grant
  • Wyndham Lewis

Alongside are pictures and artefacts from around the world that we bought with the classroom in mind. Derbyshire Museums Loans Service was an education resource, established in the 1930s, to lend museum-quality objects to Derbyshire schools. The service came under the umbrella of our Schools Library Service (SLS).

Council Leader, Councillor Barry Lewis, said:

“On the surface, the artworks that the council bought appear bright and pleasing. It’s only with the passing of time and further reading that the stories behind them can be revealed – stories of survival, tenacity and the therapeutic power of art. This is a unique chance to see these works.”

Following the closure of the SLS in 2018, a project to oversee the dispersal of the collection, received funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, in conjunction with the Museum Association (MA).

While Buxton Museum will keep some works, more than 1,000 pictures have been offered for free transfer to other museums where they will be well cared for and accessible for people to see. Some 30 museums and galleries across the UK have expressed an interest in acquiring pictures.

Between Two Worlds opens on Saturday 15 February until 10 June 2020 at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. Admission is free, and donations are welcome.

Visitors will also be able to see “20 Years of the Friends Prize”, a collection of pictures that have been given to the museum by the Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.