City of London Corporation announces new exhibiton

Anne Desmet KaleidoscopeLondon.
Anne Desmet KaleidoscopeLondon.

City of London Corporation has announced the opening of a new exhibition, Anne Desmet: Kaleidoscope/London exhibition.

The exhibition, which runs from 12 April to 8 September, has been curated by Anne Desmet and the City of London Corporation’s Head of Guildhall Art Gallery, Elizabeth Scott. Admission will be pay what you can’ basis.

Anne Desmet: Kaleidoscope/London at the City of London Corporation’s Guildhall Art Gallery sees the artist slicing into prints focused on London from her earlier wood-engravings, linocuts and hand-drawn lithographs to make a new series of digital collages, inspired by looking at a fragmented view of the world through a toy kaleidoscope.

Spanning over three decades of Desmet’s documentation of London through the mediums of wood engraving and mixed-media printed collage, the exhibition will feature 150 works, including 41 London-themed kaleidoscopic prints created exclusively for this exhibition, and a selection of tools and engraved wood blocks.

Desmet’s prints create a unique dialogue between time and change, depicting the evolution of urban landscapes – from ancient Rome and Pompeii to London. One of the stand-out art works will be a complex collage, ‘Fires of London’, created using 18 razor-clam shells to present a theme of the many historic fires of London over the last 1,500 years. The work will be acquired for the art gallery’s permanent collection. Desmet is only the third artist to be elected to the prestigious Royal Academy of Arts in London for working in the medium of wood engraving. To date, Desmet has exhibited her work in over 50 solo shows, including five major museum exhibitions in the UK and overseas.

Anne Desmet said, “Many of the collages were made in 2022 while I was undergoing treatment for breast cancer and, consequently, they reflect something of a wild scattergun of thoughts that were running through my mind at that time, such as escape, possible new worlds, and the climate crisis. The framework for those thoughts was inspired by a kaleidoscope toy that I had bought at the Sir John Soane’s Museum some years ago, which breaks up whatever view you’re looking at into extraordinary triangulated repeat-patterns. I set about applying a kaleidoscope lens to my London imagery to create new work for the exhibition at Guildhall Art Gallery. By seeing the city anew and with a sense of its unexpected possibilities, I hope that my work will inspire optimism and constructive thinking in our uncertain times.”

Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage, and Libraries Committee, Munsur Ali said, “Many visitors to Guildhall Art Gallery may be intrigued that wood, that most natural and tactile of materials, provides the focus for its next exhibition, which we expect to be very popular with its followers and admirers, as well as those who discover this beautiful gallery for the first time. It will be an absolute joy to see how Anne Desmet’s vivid imagination, life experience, and highly skilled hands have helped create such evocative work, some of it never seen before.”

Anne Desmet: Kaleidoscope/London is an integral part of the City’s arts and cultural offering and forms part of the City of London Corporation’s Destination City programme, which sets out a vision for the Square Mile to become a world-leading leisure destination for UK and international visitors, workers, and residents to enjoy.

Click here to find out more about the upcoming exhibition.