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Cecil Sharp House Organizes a Unique Retrospective Show

  • Cecil Sharp House
June 7, 2016
Gordana Sretenović. Teaching English and writing for a living. Obsessed with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Desires to travel the world and not have a permanent address. Occasionally writes poetry.

Cecil Sharp House is delighted to present their new exhibition which is a retrospective of the works from their permanent collection, and additional artworks from their temporary exhibition program that ran for the past eight years. The works displayed in the exhibition will be those which have made a special impact and a long lasting connection with the Cecil Sharp House. The pieces from their archive will be on display as well, and they will offer a fresh and unique overview of the folk. Some works will also show interesting pop culture references in a witty and playful manner, a signature for the Cecil Sharp House.

Cecil Sharp House
Kennedy Hall Mural After Refurbishing by Andi Sapey

Works Featured in the Exhibition

The retrospective exhibition will showcase some very interesting and amazing artwork and take the viewer on a journey through the rich history of the Cecil Sharp House and the featured artists. Displayed in this exhibition will be the painting of Anthony Morris, entitled The Folklorist, Cecil Sharp, meeting William Kimber in 1989, Sir William Nicholson’s Chairing the feathers; The Eynsham Morris at the gates of Blenheim Palace, executed in 1902, A Country Dance, published in 1789, as well as the Diamond Jubilee wall hanging from 1992, The Four Hobby Horses of the Apocalypse, executed in 2008 by Matthew Cowan, Mural of Tailor and the Crow, by Stuart Easton, made in 2014, Ivon Hitchens mural in Kennedy Hall, entitled Study for the Mural Painting at Cecil Sharp House, c. 1950, EFDSS’ anniversary posters, and prints from the Cecil Sharp House 80 Year Anniversary Archive Exhibition curated by John Lawrence in 2012.

Cecil Sharp House
Left: 80 year anniversary poster / Right: Sir William Nicholson – Nicholson’s Chairing the feathers; The Eynsham Morris at the gates of Blenheim Palace, 1902

Who is Cecil Sharp and What is Cecil Sharp House?

Cecil Sharp House is the London headquarters of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. It was partially destroyed by the bomb in 1940, and in the process of re-building, adorned with the mural as an alternative to replacing the Musicians Gallery, which was the big decorative feature of the venue. In the late 1950s, Ivon Hitchens was invited to create this mural, which was unveiled in 1954, three years after the Cecil Sharp House reopening. But you may wonder, who is this Cecil Sharp we are talking about? Cecil James Sharp is considered to be the founding father of the folk song revival in England in the early 20th century. He recognized the domination of German influences on the English music and took it upon himself to revive the lost tradition of the folk song. He promoted Morris dancing, which was on the verge of extinction, and he founded the English Folk Dance Society.

Cecil Sharp House
Stuart Easton – Mural of Tailor and the Crow

Folk is not Dead in England, Thanks to Cecil Sharp House

Cecil Sharp was also a teacher and a composer of music. He was a strong advocate of teaching his English-speaking students the origins of melodic expressions that originated from their homeland, and began collecting folk songs. His collection is comprised of over 1600 tunes and texts from over 350 singers, and he used this material in his lectures as a means of promoting the lost art of folk song and its resurrection. He published a book in three volumes called The Sword Dances of Northern England, which shed light on the nearly lost Rapper sword dance of Northumbria and the Yorkshire’s Long Sword dance. As a tribute to this amazing man, and as a retrospective of the amazing work that the Cecil Sharp House has been doing, the exhibition entitled A Cecil Sharp House Retrospective will be held from June 15th to October 2nd, 2016. The admissions are free, so make sure to visit this interesting display and learn more about the traditions of England.

All images courtesy of Cecil Sharp House. Featured image: Ivon Hitchens – Mural from 1954