Print Collection

Print Collection

We have over 1500 prints in our collection. The collections illustrate printmaking processes and techniques, celebrate the early 20th century revival of British printmaking, and represent leading British artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We are currently digitising these works as part of our Esmée Fairburn funded project to enable us to share them more widely with the public, our volunteer photographer, John, has already written a couple of blogs about some of his favourite pieces to digitise. We will gradually be adding works to Art UK and were so excited when the first group of works uploaded we had to share it in a blog.

Art UK works with the UK’s public art collections to showcase their artworks to the world. The art that they put online is for enjoyment, learning and research.

There are already over 200,000 artworks on Art UK. The art is from museums, universities, town halls, hospitals and even a lighthouse. It is spread over 3,250 venues from the Shetland Islands to the Isles of Scilly. Much of the art isn’t usually on display in real life and a high proportion had not been photographed before the project started in 2003. At the moment the archive is mainly oil paintings with a small and growing number of watercolours and other works on paper.

When we were invited to start adding our own prints and watercolours we knew our first artist had to be Bessie Downes. We have just created a new interactive to showcase her work on our museum corridor and were keen to share her work with a larger audience. Click here to see them on Art UK.

Elizabeth Downes (Bessie) was born in Leeds in 1860. After her marriage to James Charles Downes in 1907 she moved to Manchester Road, Southport. Bessie was an enthusiastic member of the Southport Society of Natural History and devoted most of her time to painting detailed representations of botanical specimens. Her considerable skill in this field has been noted and commented on by botanical experts. One said, ‘The plants are so accurately drawn and painted that the species could be recognised at a glance. The natural aspect of the plants have been faithfully retained.’ Bessie dies in 1920 at the age of 60 and is buried in Southport Cemetery. Her collection of beautiful watercolours was acquired by the Botanic Gardens Museum in Southport in 1947 and moved with the rest of the museum collection to The Atkinson in 2012.

More of the collection is on here.

Images from the collection

Posted on 7 December 2017 under Artist

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