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Flight and the Artistic Imagination

29 June 2012 to 30 September 2012

This major exhibition explores the instinctive human desire to fly from the classical era to the modern day. Starting with the imaginations of Leonardo da Vinci and Francisco Goya and ending with space travel, satellite images and everyday air travel, it is an exciting exploration of creative responses to flight.

Discover classical flight and the fall of Icarus. Learn about the Wright brothers, Yuri Gagarin and the history of aviation and space travel. Explore the uses of flight from everyday travel and transportation to sky battles and air raids. Enjoy spectacular aerial views and satellite imagery.

Flight and the Artistic Imagination includes an intriguing combination of paintings, sculpture, photographs, drawings, prints and video, by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Henri Matisse, Paul Nash, Peter Lanyon and Hiraki Sawa.

The exhibition contains work from national collections such as the Imperial War Museum, the British Museum, Arts Council Collection and the National Galleries of Scotland.

Click here for opening hours and admission prices. 

"The most fabulous summer show.  A great visit." Richard Cork.  Listen to the full review by Richard on BBC Radio 3 Night Waves

"I'm going on holidays next week, by plane. I'm going to try and keep the vision of this exhibition in my mind, instead of fretting as usual about luggage and duty free."  Maev Kennedy The Guardian Read the full review

“…among the best summer shows anywhere.” Ivan Hewett Sunday Telegraph.  Read the full review

"...a mind-opening exhibition" Richard Cork, Financial Times.  Read the full review

The exhibition "...has something for everyone." Sylvia Vetta Oxford Times Read the full review


Buy the book to accompany the exhibition


Buy a postcard pack:

works from the exhibition



Please note that one work within this exhibition contains flashing lights.


Paul Nash  Battle of Britain (1941)  Oil on canvas  © Imperial War Museums (Art. IWM ART LD 1550) Artist unknown  Charles Green's Royal Vauxhall (Nassau) balloon over the  Medway 7 November 1836  Watercolour on paper  © Royal Aeronautical Society (National Aerospace  Library) Al Johnson  Downed (2006)  Sculpture: Knitted, stitched textiles, timber, forged steel  © Al Johnson Alfred G. Buckham  The Storm Centre (c. 1920)  Scottish National Portrait Gallery  Purchased with the assistance of Art Fund 2008   © Richard and John Buckham Peter Lanyon   Soaring Flight (1960)  Oil on canvas  Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London Hendrik Goltzius after Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem   The four disgracers: Icarus (1588)  © The Trustees of the British Museum Henri Matisse  Jazz suite: Icarus (c.1947) Screen print  Victoria and Albert Museum, London  © Estate of the artist Pat Douthwaite  Death of Amy Johnson (1976)  Oil on canvas  Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art   © Estate of the Artist


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