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Holburne Museum presents Michael Simpson: Drawing towards painting – selected works on paper

Michael Simpson (b. 1940) is one of Britain’s most well-known and respected contemporary painters, who has, for most of his career, lived and worked in Bradford-on-Avon, ten miles from the Holburne Museum.

This exhibition, however, focuses on the intimate drawings that underpin Simpson’s painting practice. Across the last five decades, Simpson has produced thousands of drawings, most of which have never been seen outside his studio.

The exhibition will reflect Simpson’s career-long interest in the repetition of certain images, in particular the Leper Squint, the Confessional, and the Bench, each reflecting in their different ways, his impassioned belief in ‘the infamy of religious history’.

A leper squint was a feature built into the walls of medieval churches across Europe, allowing sufferers of leprosy and other ‘undesirables’ to view the altar while remaining outside and hidden from the congregation. The Confessional, an object of inherent power and impoverishment, is for Simpson ‘one of the lowest points of human culture’, and the Bench, the painter’s homage to the Neapolitan philosopher, Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) whose advanced ideas of cosmology caused him to be tortured and executed by the Catholic Church.

On view now through 17 September 2023.

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Image: Michael in his studio. Photograph courtesy of Peter Mallet in association with Southern & Partners