Preview: Rhythm & Reaction

A major exhibition at Two Temple Place in London will explore the influence of jazz on British art, design and wider society in the jazz age

London's Two Temple Place will reopen to the public on 27 January 2018 with its seventh annual winter exhibition, Rhythm & Reaction: The Age Of Jazz In Britain. The exhibition runs until 22 April and marks 100 years since jazz was supposed to have arrived in the UK.

Produced in partnership with The Arts Society on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the exhibition will bring together painting, prints, cartoons, textiles and ceramics, moving film, instruments and jazz music to examine the influence of jazz on aspects of British art and culture.

The exhibition aims to show how the new jazz sound in post-war nightclubs and dance halls provided exciting and dynamic material for British artists. Artwork by William Roberts and Frank Dobson will be displayed alongside the Harlem-inspired paintings for which Edward Burra, one of Britain’s foremost modernist painters, was well-known (Burra’s 1934 painting, The Band, pictured above right).

Through newspapers and magazines such as Melody Maker and Tune Times, the exhibition will try to show how publications not only distributed jazz but provided opportunities for visual artists to explore jazz images in print. Advances in commercial reproduction gave the domestic market access to jazz-influenced contemporary designs in textiles and ceramics. Examples of Carlton Ware and Clarice Cliff ceramics and Arthur Sanderson textiles will demonstrate how the cultural response to jazz allowed Britons to encounter both the look and the sound of jazz at home.

On 12 November 2017, Two Temple Place will open for a day of talks, workshops and performances - titled Jazz Before Jazz: The Pre-History Of Jazz - presented by exhibition partners The Arts Society and Kansas Smitty’s.

Curator Catherine Tackley, head and professor of music at the University of Liverpool, said: "This exhibition tells the story of the ever-popular jazz age in new ways, focussing on British depictions of jazz to understand what the music meant to artists, assessing the resultant image of jazz in the public sphere as well as considering how jazz was encountered in everyday, domestic environments. Above all, the exhibition links the music with the aesthetics of art produced in response to it, uniquely foregrounding the impact of jazz music on 'jazz age' art".

Two Temple Place, owned and run by the Bulldog Trust, is on the Victoria Embankment. Opening times for Rhythm & Reaction: The Age Of Jazz In Britain are as follows:

Monday and Thursday-Saturday: 10.00am-4.30pm
Wednesday: 10.00am-9.00pm
Sunday: 11.00am-4.30pm
The exhibition will be closed on Tuesdays and on Easter Sunday.

For further details go to the Two Temple Place website.

Text by Bruce Lindsay, photo courtesy of Lefevre Fine Art Ltd and British Council Collection

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