‘Food for Thought: The Art of Richard Ansdell in a Culinary Context’, 24 May – 1 July 2018.

It was lovely to see paintings by Richard Ansdell RA in the Gallery again but it was a bit of a brave act to put on this Exhibition! Conceived by Amanda Draper, our former Arts Development Officer, it was created and built by Heather Davis, Museums and Conservation Manager for Lancashire.

It was designed to address the feelings of many individuals who are not keen on hunting and dead animal scenes which are depicted in fewer than half of our Richard Ansdell paintings; most would agree that Ansdell was second only to Edwin Landseer in his genius at painting animals. Remarks were constantly made in the Gallery at his skill in painting sheep but scenes with dead animals in were not always appreciated.

Animal Art Forms

Heather cleverly makes the point that hunting scenes are one of the oldest art forms, appearing in cave paintings 30,000 years ago. Hunting and gathering was how the human race obtained food to eat, then agriculture and horticulture developed before the recent age of mass produced food. Did the animals have a better life back then or now when they are often farmed intensively and may never enjoy life outside in the fresh air?

Culinary Context & Mrs Beeton’s Book

So the visitor to the Fylde Gallery saw how Ansdell’s paintings were put in a culinary context. Meat and dairy products were used by Victorian cooks not least by the famous Mrs Beeton, whose book of household management was first published in 1861, around the time Richard Ansdell came to Lytham St Annes. The success of this book was incredible, by 1868 2 million had been sold! Copies of the book and information about Mrs Beeton featured in and contributed to the display.

Attendees Delight At Exhibition

Over 40 members of the Friends and invited guests gathered at the Gallery for the Preview on 23rd May.

The Deputy Mayor, Councillor Jan Barker, who came with her Consort, Mr Steve Barker, officially opened the Exhibition.

Several members of Fylde Borough Council attended: Sue Fazackerley, Leader of the Council, and Cheryl Little, Chair of the Tourism & Leisure Committee.

Tim Dixon, Tourism & Leisure Services Manager, brought Sophie Fuce, whom we met for the first time that evening; she had just been chosen to succeed Amanda Draper.

We were also pleased to welcome Anne Greenhalgh, President of the LSA Art Society, and Sue Forshaw, Chair of Lytham Heritage Group.

A well-known member of the Friends, Veronica McDonnell, very kindly agreed to speak and she told us how she became involved in helping to care for the Collection. Her knowledge of all the artworks, artists and donors is amazing and her attention to detail and insistence on everything being correct keeps us all on our toes!! She is a very valuable and much appreciated member of the team.