Dorothy Annan and Trevor Tennant

Institute Gallery Discussion
21st January 2015
Upper Sculpture Studies Galleries, 2-4pm

Photograph of Dorothy Annan working on her mural, 'The History of Flight', for Hatfield Junior School, Hertfordshire, 1940s

Courtesy of the Estate of Dorothy Annan and Trevor Tennant/Leeds Museums & Galleries (Henry Moore Institute Archive)

The current Henry Moore Institute exhibition Dorothy Annan and Trevor Tennant celebrates the generous donation to the Institute of the archive by the family of artists Dorothy Annan (1900-83) and Trevor Tennant (1900-80). Bringing together photographs, sketchbooks and exhibition catalogues, the exhibition provides a chronological insight into the artists' practices, shedding light on the relationship between sculpture and architecture and the role of art in British society following the Second World War.

This afternoon gallery discussion is an opportunity to join art historians Dawn Pereira (independent) and Jeremy Howard (University of St Andrews) alongside the exhibition's curator, Pavel Pyś (Henry Moore Institute) to discuss the work in the context of post-war sculpture in Britain.

Annan and Tennant were members of the Artists International Association (AIA), a society of artists established in 1932 whose aim was the 'Unity of Artists for Peace, Democracy and Cultural Development'. A left-wing organisation, the group brought together artists and designers to produce pamphlets, posters and public art commissions placing artistic creativity at the heart of everyday life. Based in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire during the war, Annan and Tennant were also a part of The Artists and Designers Group, which worked on numerous public commissions in hotels, schools and canteens. Their involvement in AIA is crucial to understanding their work, which is usually found in public spaces, drawing on figurative references and embedded within an understanding of art as a force for civic good.

After the war, both Annan and Tennant exhibited their work in commercial exhibitions, while simultaneously pursuing their own projects. Annan developed a highly successful collection of pottery for the furniture company Heal and Son; her sketchbooks, filled with recipes for glazes, can be seen in this exhibition. Tennant produced small-scale figurative bronze sculptures, which were included in the Sculpture in the Home exhibitions organised by the Arts Council that aimed to introduce the public to sculpture in the domestic setting.

The post-war years offered the artists the opportunity to work on several large-scale public commissions. Both Annan and Tennant collaborated closely with the London County Council Patronage of the Arts Scheme, for which Annan produced a school mural in London, while Tennant created sculptures for a school and playground. Tennant designed architectural reliefs for Coventry, which at the time was undergoing redevelopment following extensive bombing during the war. Annan produced mosaics for schools in London and Newcastle, as well as public murals - her most famous being the London General Post Office headquarters at the Fleet Building.

Jeremy Howard works on central and east European art, architecture and design as well as on the relationships between art and education. He is particularly concerned with the representation, spaces and experiences of schooling, and grapples with the socio-political and pedagogic values that these may entail or involve. He has a long-standing interest in, and commitment to, cross-cultural communication, and the direction of his teaching, learning and research is partially derived from a desire to probe disciplinary limitations. He was a Senior Henry Moore Institute Research Fellow (2011-12).

Dawn Pereira is an artist, teacher and writer, and a former Henry Moore Institute Research Fellow (2013-14). Dawn first became aware of the artists Trevor Tennant and Dorothy Annan as part of her PhD thesis research, examining the artworks they made for the London County Council's Patronage of the Arts Scheme (1957-1965).

The Dorothy Annan and Trevor Tennant archive joined the Henry Moore Institute Archive of Sculptors' Papers in 2012.

Gallery Discussion accompanying our current exhibition in the Sculpture Study Galleries. With art historian Dawn Perreira (Independent), Jeremy Howard (University of St Andrews) and exhibition curator Pavel Pyś (Henry Moore Institute).

An audio recording of this event is available in the Henry Moore Institute Research Library.

Further information