now incorporating the Sudbury Hill and Wood End Times

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Art and Mind of Louis Wain at Brent Museum


Communicating Through Cats: The Art and Mind of Louis Wain

"An exhibition of work by Louis Wain (1860-1939), who is best known for his 'humanistic' cat drawings. The show explores how the artist saw the world during a life troubled by tragedy and mental illness. It also looks at how understanding and appreciation of Wain's work has varied over the past 100 years." (Time Out)

Brent Museum (upstairs at Willesden Library Centre)
8 May to 29 October 2011
Free admission


This is a fabulous exhibition of paintings, drawings, illustrations and even some small sculptures or ceramics (his "Futurist" cats) by Louis Wain in the special exhibition centre in the Brent Museum. Contrary to what is said in the publicity it is not ALL cats, there are other marvellous subjects as well. People should be queuing round the block for this but there was nobody there this lunchtime, till a lady came in who agreed that it should be better promoted (not even in the this month's Brent magazine, for example). While we were talking two schoolkids came in to sit in the gallery and chat (no harm in that).

The exhibition has what looks like 50 or more of every kind of work, some quite large, others of more moderate sizes, painted and drawn in various media, e.g. gouache on paper, some sort of paint on mirror glass etc. There are also some books ("Louis Wain annuals") and notes, including a couple of examples of some of his handwritten "secret notes" that are said to fascinate psychologists interested in his mental states. To be fair, the museum has organised a varied series of ten events for schools and families, together with another six or so for adults, all in connection with the exhibition, as well as guided tours. So I'm not sure what more they could do. However, you can do something: go and see it! You can also join in adding special written tags to trays underneath some of the pictures, a selection of which will be published online later.

"The exhibition includes work selected and supplied by Chris Beetles Gallery, St James's, London, and loans from the Bethlem Art and History Collections Trust and the Wellcome Library. A free programme of adult and family events and activities will be running alongside the exhibition. In addition, volunteers will be running lunch-time tours of the exhibition on the last Wednesday of every month, starting at 12pm." (Dates, times and details).

I can't find a copy online of the leaflet listing all the events but you can pick up one at the museum. Louis Wain lived in Kilburn.

Noël Knowall

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