Win tickets to Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings









Don’t miss this chance to visit the exhibition critics say “is rewriting art history”! Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings brings together astonishing works by Spiritualist medium Georgiana Houghton. Her bold and vivid watercolours were ground-breaking at the time and Houghton herself was a prominent figure of the early spiritualist movement in Victorian England. More information on her and this exhibition can be found here.

The Courtauld Gallery is excited to be giving away three pairs of tickets to this exhibition, with each pair accompanied by an exhibition catalogue.

To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets and a catalogue, answer this question:

How many of her spirit drawings did Georgiana Houghton enter at her 1871 exhibition?

Please send your answers to along with your name and preferred phone and email information. Winners will be drawn at random from correct entries. Closing date is Monday 1 August 2016

Georgiana Houghton Spirit Drawings Competition


Evince Your Inner Colourway at The Courtauld Shop: Getting to Know Jan Allison Jewellery

Founded in 2005, and based in the picturesque Cornish seaside town of St Ives, Jan Allison Jewellery is a partnership between Janet Stevens and Alison Carter.  Janet and Allison have been the closest of friends since childhood. Their unique, hand-crafted pieces of jewellery reflect the vibrant, colourful watercolours of  our latest exhibition Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings . They are available for purchase at The Courtauld Gallery Shop and online . Jan Allison Jewellery is exhibited in galleries across the UK and has been purchased by clients from all over the world.

We met up with Allison to find out a little bit more:

Janet Stevens and Allison Carter

Janet Stevens and Allison Carter

Q: Allison, you and Janet have been the closest of friends since childhood, do you have a favourite childhood memory you’d like to share with us?

We were bridesmaids together when our siblings got married. It was my sister and her brother. We were teenagers at the time and the relationship may not have survived but our friendship certainly did.

Q: Is there anything else from your long-standing friendship that you’d like to share?

In school, we were on the same hockey team and netball team. Janet was absolutely brilliant at sewing and embroidery, whereas I went to Art College at Birmingham Polytechnic and did fabric and textiles. Years later, I actually had my own business where I decorated glass wear. I did that for quite some time. Then when I started working at the jeweller’s, that’s when I started making my jewellery.

Q: Allison, throughout your worldwide travels as an air stewardess, was there a place or event that made you realise you wanted to create colourful, unique pieces of jewellery?

It has to be Sri Lanka. It was my favourite place. There were so many colours and so much beauty. My idea of paradise. I actually purchased my first natural stones on a market stall. Janet actually went to Sri Lanka herself years later and she enjoyed it just as much as me.

Q: Janet, was there something specific that prompted you to enrol in your jewellery course at Penzance College?

The love of jewellery inspired me. My intention was to create personal pieces of jewellery for my friends and family. At that stage, a business was far from my mind, we just sort of fell into it.

Q: How did you start the business?

We were working together in a jewellery gallery, Pebbles Jewellery Gallery in St.Ives. It has recently closed. I worked there for twenty years out of the thirty-four years they were in business. The owner of the business and I had been going to trade shows. While she was buying jewellery to supply the shop, she was picking up necklaces and I was saying ‘I could make that.’ I had said it so many times that she ended up buying some stones and giving them to me, telling me to give it a try.

Our first batch of jewellery was sold through the owner of the business. We probably made about twenty. Now we’ve probably made thousands. We are still making every piece ourselves. We don’t make every day at the moment. We normally make stuff very regularly. We probably work a few hours a week now. When we start a new collection that’s when we spend a lot of time together.

Q: Does the natural semi-precious stone hold a special meaning for you?

Semi-precious stones have great healing properties that appeal to both. We both love colour and mix different colours together because we like the combinations.

Q: We noticed that you use very colourful stones; does something inspire the choice in design and colour of your work?

Not really. We both have different ideas which when we put together seem to work. We like asymmetric patterns and our work often portrays that.

Q: Is there an art period, style or movement that has majorly influenced your work?

I am a big lover of Art Deco and Art Nouveau.

Q: How long does it take to create one piece?

I cannot commit to how long it takes to design one piece, because each piece is very different. Each strand of stones is laid out and sort of played around with until we get the look that we want. Then, the silver components are added before we start the threading.

Q: We know that lapis, sodalite and Andean opal are among the semi-precious stones used in your designs, how do you source the stones?

We’ve been making jewellery for over 11 years, over that time we have sourced many different stones. We’ve become great friends with our suppliers. One of which actually mines the stones himself in South America, an amazing man and his wife. They bought a mine in South America. My sister lives in Egypt and gets our lapis lazuli from there.

Q: You live in a beautiful place, does it inspire you?

Oh yes, sometimes it inspires us a great deal. The natural light here has made it one of the UK’s major art havens. We are surrounded by a wealth of incredibly talented artists, sculptors and potters. Many of which are friends of ours so we’ve grown up with amazing creativity around us.

Q: Finally, looking forward, what are your plans for your next collection?

We will probably start sourcing for our next collection in September. We’re thinking of turquoise, carnelian, and lapis lazuli. We’re thinking to go with gold-plated accents. A bit of an Egyptian influence will be present.

Q: Do you know what the future holds for Jan Allison Jewellery?

Who knows what the future holds for anyone. We can be assured ours will include lots of colour, creativity, and laughter.

Jan Allison Jewellery



Visit the Courtauld Gallery Shop online

The Courtauld Gallery Shop
Somerset House
London WC2R 0RN

10am – 6pm

Coming soon: Regarding Trees in the Drawings Gallery

With our new display Regarding Trees in the Drawings Gallery opening later this week, we ask Curator Dr Rachel Sloan to tells us about it: 

Regarding Trees
Fra Bartolommeo (1472-1517) , Tree in winter, c.1504
Thomas Hearne (1744-1817), The Chestnut Tree at Little Wymondley, Hertfordshire, 1789
Gilles van Coninxloo (1544-1607), Wood landscape, c. 1598-00

Devising a display of drawings of trees is a task as daunting as it is tantalising: how do you narrow down your selection to a reasonable size for an intimate gallery when you’re working with a subject so common and so central in the history of art? When I was first asked to curate Regarding Trees, I was overjoyed, until I did a keyword search for ‘tree’ in our collection database and turned up a total of 528 drawings. How could I ever cut that down to twenty – and how could I give the display some shape?

An answer appeared, in all places, in an 18th-century treatise on the aesthetics of landscape: the Reverend William Gilpin’s Remarks on Forest Scenery, and Other Woodland Views (1791). Gilpin was a highly influential theorist whose writings were very important to Romantic artists and writers, and he organised his book in a way that actually does allow the reader to see the forest from the trees: he begins by discussing individual trees with a level of almost portrait-like detail, moves on to the role of the tree within landscape, and finishes with a meditation on forest scenes. I decided to follow Gilpin’s framework in creating a structure for the display, which opens with ‘portraits’ of trees, followed by drawings of single trees within landscapes, and concludes with four forest views.

The earliest work in the display is a delicate study of a leafless tree by the Florentine artist Fra Bartolommeo, one of the earliest known European drawings of a tree apparently produced for its own sake, rather than for the background of a religious or mythological scene. Fra Bartolommeo was a Dominican monk, and his obvious delight in nature stemmed from the teachings of Saint Francis that the beauty of nature should be regarded as evidence of the love of God.

Many of the other drawings on view are remarkable for their vigour and animation: the trees look as if they’re about to move of their own accord. Gillis van Coninxloo’s enchanting Wood Landscape plunges the viewer into the understory of a wood with its thick crowns of foliage and deep shadows. Coninxloo’s energetic penwork conveys a sense of movement, as if the trees were tossed by a strong breeze. If you’ve ever been entranced by the dark energy of the forest paintings of seventeenth-century Dutch artists like Jacob van Ruisdael, Coninxloo’s forests are their starting point.

One of the most exciting discoveries I made while working on Regarding Trees was a watercolour of a huge, gnarled tree in a landscape by the eighteenth-century British draughtsman Thomas Hearne. It was catalogued as Landscape with a large oak, but a bit of research determined that not only was the tree not an oak, it was a chestnut, and a famous one at that – the great chestnut at Little Wymondley, Hertfordshire. When Hearne made the watercolour, in 1789, the tree was recorded as having a girth of forty-two feet and local legend claimed that it had been planted by the Romans. Best of all, it was so celebrated that Gilpin devoted a page to it in Remarks on Forest Scenery.

The Little Wymondley chestnut still stands today, although now on private land that is difficult to access. Why not come instead to see Hearne’s watercolour of it at its most splendid – and some of its many cousins throughout the ages?


Regarding Trees runs 18 June-25 September 2016

Book Tickets

Free for Friends

Georgiana Houghton

You’re invited to take a first look inside our new exhibition Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawing, opening this week.

The installation has been taking shape over the last few weeks and it’s been all hands on desk as our Curators, Gallery Technicians, Conservators, Registrar’s  and Design team have been assisting with the installation.

I managed to sneak in and take some shots as it was coming together.


Houghton install

Georgina Houghton: Spirit Drawings opens 16 June – 11 September 2016

Book online

Free for Friends

Tis ‘The Seasons’

This week a new display opened at The Courtauld Gallery following an important new acquisition of work by the American artist Jasper Johns (born 1930).

The Seasons

Between 1984 and 1991, Johns focused on the theme of the four seasons and produced a significant body of work, which included paintings, drawings and the nine prints gifted to The Courtauld Gallery. Johns’ The Seasons are complex works, weaving together themes relating to artistic creation, the passage of time and the artist’s own biography. Most prominently, Johns’ own shadow appears in each of the compositions, cast across themulti-layered imagery.

This body of work comes from the generosity of Barbara Bertozzi Castelli, the widow of Leo Castelli, the legendary New York dealer who ‘discovered’ Johns in the 1950s. It was with Castelli that Johns first exhibited The Seasons series in 1987. The works bear a personal dedication —‘For Leo’— in pencil on each sheet. This gift was made possible by The American Foundation for The Courtauld Institute of Art.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to view Johns’ work, rarely shown in the United Kingdom on display in room 14.

Book online

Free for Friends