Court on Canvas/A Gem of a Game

TennisTwo exhibitions commemorating the game of Lawn Tennis and the man responsible for its existence are now on at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, located at the University of Birmingham’s Edgbaston campus.

Court on Canvas is the first exhibition to explore the subject of lawn tennis in art, bringing together paintings, drawings and sculpture inspired by the game, including Sir John Lavery’s The Tennis Party.

From the outset, lawn tennis has provided painters with the challenge of depicting people in motion, as well as reflecting the increasing visibility of women in sport. The game’s social and romantic side and its swift transformation into a popular international sport have also helped it attract a diverse roll-call of artist, including L.S. Lowery, Stanley Spencer, E.H. Shepherd (author of Winnie the Pooh), David Hockney and Tom Phillips.

Also featuring photography, prints and mixed media work, the exhibition, created by Barber Institute Director Professor Anne Sumner, not only represents around 150 years of tennis history, but also offers an overview of the varying artistic trends during that time.

Running concurrently is A Gem of a Game, exploring the origins of lawn tennis and its many connections with the Birmingham area. A wide range of exhibits chart the development of tennis; the game and the equipment; fashion; collectibles and jewellery, and the prominence of local players and clubs. Objects on display include documents, photographs and original artefacts. The exhibition is co-curated by postgraduate History of Art students from the University of Birmingham.

Court on Canvas/A Gem of a Game, Tennis in Art, is at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham campus, Edgbaston until September 18th 2012 (August 29th for A Gem of a Game). Accompanying these exhibitions are a wide programme of related events, including talks, lectures, book readings, a study day and an open day at the Edgbaston Archery and Lawn Tennis Society, the world’s oldest surviving lawn tennis club, on Westbourne Road, Edgbaston.

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