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Paintings’ hidden secrets revealed in new exhibition

Upton House Assistant Collections manager Michelle Leake and Collections Manager Rachael Boyd introducing the Backs to the Future exhibition

Upton House Assistant Collections manager Michelle Leake and Collections Manager Rachael Boyd introducing the Backs to the Future exhibition

The hidden histories of some of Oxfordshire’s most treasured paintings are being revealed in a pioneering new exhibition now on display at the National Trust’s Upton House and Gardens.

In a unique twist, many of Upton’s most famous paintings have been turned round – allowing visitors to view their backs, displaying normally hidden clues to the paintings’ pasts such as identification marks, exhibition labels and auction tickets.

Upton’s collections manager Rachael Boyd spoke to an audience of invited guests from many of Oxfordshire’s art societies last Wednesday saying: “It brings the works alive. When you see people walking around the paintings and talking about them there’s a real excitement.”

Ms Boyd and assistant collections manager Michelle Leake hit upon the idea as a way of making the works more accessible for visitors and art lovers – a vision shared by Upton’s former owner Lord Bearsted when he passed his renowned art collection to the Trust on his death in 1948. The new exhibition is housed in the picture gallery, fresh from a quarter-of-a-million pound revamp.

Ms Boyd said: “Michelle and I thought about how we could re-open this space and capture people’s imaginations.” The show follows the successful Lowry to Piper exhibition still on display at Upton’s squash court gallery. For more details visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/upton-house

 
 
 

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