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The Higgins Bedford



The Higgins Bedford is set to welcome a very special visitor on Tuesday 3rd December. As part of a visit to Bedfordshire, His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales will be touring the newly opened museum and art gallery.


The Higgins Bedford will be closed for the morning of the visit, when His Royal Highness will meet with staff, local watercolour artists, school children, lace-makers and representatives of the High Street Regeneration Project.


Since The Higgins Bedford opened in June this year, it has attracted culture vultures from across the country, and beyond. 


Bedford Borough Council’s £5.8m project holds world-class collections including works by Turner, Picasso and Warhol.


The transformed art gallery and museum is located in the historic buildings of Castle Brewery, and the adjoining Victorian family home, both built by the Higgins family in the mid-19th Century.


The Higgins Bedford will be showing Recording Britain, an exhibition organised by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, from 9th January – 20th March 2014. The exhibition is the result of a unique documentary project initiated by Sir Kenneth Clark at the start of the Second World War. More than 90 artists made inspiring pictures that were ‘sympathetic records’ of vulnerable people, landscapes and lifestyles. Amongst the contributors were some of the country’s finest watercolour painters including John Piper, Charles Knight and Michael Rothenstein.


Recording Britain forms part of a suite of exhibitions exploring the theme of landscape. A National Art: Watercolour & The British Landscape Tradition runs from 23rd November 2013 until 27th April 2014. Drawn entirely from the Cecil Higgins  collection, the exhibition explores the landscapes of the great watercolourists of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and how they influenced their 20th century counterparts. Bawden’s Britain runs from 7th December 2013 until 11th May 2014 and looks at how the artist and designer, Edward Bawden, was inspired by the landscapes and inhabitants of rural Essex. The exhibition celebrates Bawden’s closely observed depictions of rural life and the wit and humour that is unique to ‘the master of linocut’.


The Higgins Bedford also showcases wonderful and varied collections including the Cecil Higgins Collection of fine and decorative arts, with its world-class watercolour and print collections and unique groups of work by the designers William Burges and Edward Bawden. The watercolour collection includes works by Turner, Constable, Cotman and Blake, whilst the print collection includes works by Picasso, Goya, Munch and Bonnard alongside many others.


Further displays explore the inspiring stories of local people and encourage a ‘sense of place’ for Bedford and the surrounding area. Displays in Somewhere in England describe Bedford’s unique role during World War II; the galleries name refers to the way in which the BBC described their whereabouts during war time broadcasts, when  in fact they were based in several Bedford buildings, one of which was The Higgins Bedford. Using collections of archaeology, social history and ethnography, The Higgins Bedford shows how the town of Bedford has developed.


Mayor Dave Hodgson, said: “The visit of His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales to The Higgins Bedford will be a momentous occasion for the facility just months after opening earlier this year following its complete transformation.  The Higgins Bedford is establishing itself as a major cultural attraction in Bedford’s Castle Quay area, which also offers exposed archaeology in the grounds of Bedford Castle and has a range of restaurants, bars and shops all contributing to a vibrant atmosphere.”


Cllr Doug McMurdo, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at Bedford Borough Council, said: “We are delighted that we can now attract national touring exhibitions for the people of Bedford and visitors to the area. We are very lucky to have exhibitions and events of this quality on our doorstep. We hope His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales enjoys his visit; it will be interesting to hear what aspects of The Higgins Bedford he appreciates the most.” 


For more details on The Higgins Bedford, including information on its latest exhibitions, contact Gemma, at Bedford Borough Council, via gemma.hutton@bedford.gov.uk or visit The Higgins Bedford’s website at http://www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk/


Local Residents wanting to catch a glimpse of the special visitor are advised to gather at St. Paul’s Square in Bedford Town Centre on the morning of 3rd December where His Royal Highness will be meeting the public before his visit to St. Paul’s Church.

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