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NT Free Exhibitions - January to May 2009

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

AS WELL as the permanent exhibition Stage by Stage, the National Theatre hosts a changing programme of exhibitions throughout the year. Four are planned for the New Year.

Rae Smith: The War Horse Drawings – January 19 to March 21.

Designer Rae Smith’s drawings provide the epic backdrop to the National Theatre’s dramatic staging of War Horse. Beginning with evocations of the lost rural idyll of Devon in 1911, they take the audience on a journey to a very different kind of landscape – the terrifying world of the French trenches, seen through the eyes of a traumatised and terrified soldier.

This exhibition offers an intimate insight into the artistic process behind one of the most spectacular shows the National has ever staged.

Ashington Group: The Pitmen Painters – January 23 to March 21.

Following the success of The Pitmen Painters, this exhibition returns to accompany its revival in the Lyttelton Theatre. The works on display, alongside other memorabilia, are from a private collection and include painting, drawing and sculpture by several members of the Ashington Group with a particular focus on Oliver Kilbourn, a key character in Lee Hall’s play.

William Feaver’s book Pitmen Painters: The Ashington Group 1934-1984, the basis for Lee Hall’s play, will be available from December. Posters and postcards are also on sale throughout the run of the play and exhibition.

Roxana Halls’ Tingle-Tangle – March 30 to May 9.

The exhibition comprises a series of paintings on the theme of Cabaret by prize-winning contemporary artist Roxana Halls. The painter as impresario invites you to be the audience for a show taking in English variety theatre, burlesque, the heyday of Weimar, the current scene, and a range of imaginary performances only to be witnessed on canvas.

Visit Roxana Halls’ website.

James Ravilious: An English Eye – April 6 to May 16.

Best known for his seventeen-year study of rural life in North Devon (The Beaford Archive), James Ravilious (1939-1999) recorded everyday living both in Devon, and elsewhere. The photographs taken portray in detail the rich landscape and weather along with the people, their hardships and their entertainments.

This exhibition celebrates his work and displays his beautiful, honest and warmly sympathetic black and white images of life in the country. 2009 marks the tenth anniversary of his death.

Visit the James Ravilious website.