Art UK has updated its cookies policy. By using this website you are agreeing to the use of cookies. To find out more read our updated Use of Cookies policy and our updated Privacy policy.

Close

Joy is the fullest expression of happiness, experienced in connection with a force beyond oneself. Feeling this level of positivity and connection in 2020 feels, to many, like a distant dream, which is precisely why this exhibition is needed. Finding Joy was curated by students from one of City Lit's Introduction to Art History courses. Each work chosen reflects an individual's conception of joy. We interpreted thematically, grouping diverse works to find their commonality. The exhibition moves through togetherness, carefree physicality, the subtly of movement and ends with celebration of human life. Our hope was to create a communal space of joy that allows for both the broad and the specific. May you find joy in our selection.

20 artworks

.

The Seaside
© estate of John David Roberts. By courtesy of The William Roberts Society. Photo credit: Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre

‘Escape from Lockdown’

After many months of being apart, these vibrant paintings celebrate togetherness. The following four paintings by three artists show the joy and delight of being together, under blue skies and in blue waters, doing things we cannot do today. Children play and adults mingle while their laughter and smiles remind us of the importance of social contact. These works all record happy times past and the uplifting scenes offer hope of making new memories in the future.

The Seaside c.1966
William Patrick Roberts (1895–1980)
Oil on canvas
H 61 x W 76.2 cm
Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre

.

Drumsheugh Swimming Pool
© the artist. Photo credit: Art in Healthcare
Drumsheugh Swimming Pool 1992
Emily Learmont (b.1969)
Oil on canvas
H 184 x W 152.5 cm
Art in Healthcare

.

Cheese Rolling on Cooper's Hill, Gloucestershire
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Gloucester Museums Service Art Collection
Cheese Rolling on Cooper's Hill, Gloucestershire 1948
Charles March Gere (1869–1957)
Oil on canvas
H 62.5 x W 75.3 cm
Gloucester Museums Service Art Collection

.

The Christening Party
© the artist. Photo credit: Art in Healthcare
The Christening Party 1996
Emily Learmont (b.1969)
Oil on canvas
H 182.6 x W 121 cm
Art in Healthcare

.

Primrose Hill
© the artist. Photo credit: Imperial Health Charity Art Collection

Discovering Joy

The spontaneous joy of movement links these contemporary artworks, happy moments frozen in time. Whether children playing or adults dancing, single people or groups, all five of the following subjects depict smiling faces or animated limbs, their dynamic lines reflecting the innocent pleasure of physical movement. Bright light, complementary colours, and the occasional animal reinforce the feelings of freedom in a natural outdoor setting. Strong foreground figures, caught mid-movement, provide compositional focus.

Primrose Hill 1991/1992
Peter Burgess (b.1952)
Oil on canvas
H 119 x W 140 cm
Imperial Health Charity Art Collection

.

Hanging Figure
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: University of Southampton
Hanging Figure 1977
Mel Charles
Acrylic on canvas
H 216 x W 143 cm
University of Southampton

.

Hanging Figure
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: University of Southampton
Hanging Figure 1977
Mel Charles
Acrylic on canvas
H 216 x W 143 cm
University of Southampton

.

Untitled
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Art & Heritage Collections, Robert Gordon University
Untitled 2000
David Storrie
Oil on canvas
H 183 x W 212.5 cm
Art & Heritage Collections, Robert Gordon University

.

The Three Dancers
© National Museums Northern Ireland. Photo credit: National Museums Northern Ireland
The Three Dancers 1945
John Luke (1906–1975)
Oil & tempera on canvas on board
H 30.7 x W 43 cm
National Museums Northern Ireland

.

Boy Eating a Hot Dog
© Peter Blake. All rights reserved, DACS 2021. Photo credit: Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre
Boy Eating a Hot Dog 1960–1965
Peter Blake (b.1932)
Acrylic on board
H 36.5 x W 40.7 cm
Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre

.

Happy Days
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Glasgow Museums

Moving into Joy

The link between the art works in this group is ‘movement’ in its many forms. We experience in the first painting the movement from outside to inside space. In the second, fourth and fifth art works we share the physicality of movement. The third art work provides the serenity of movement from war to peace.

Movement is a fundamentally human and joyful experience and these art works exhibit the intensity, contentment and ultimate ecstasy of movement.

Happy Days 1924
John Daniel Revel (1884–1967)
Oil on canvas
H 101.6 x W 76.2 cm
Glasgow Museums

.

Bird
© the artist. Photo credit: Peace Museum
Bird 2008
Natasha Light (b.1976)
Ceramic & fishing line
H 46 x W 20.5 x D 6 cm
Peace Museum

.

Magdalen Green, Dundee
© the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: The Fleming Collection
Magdalen Green, Dundee
James McIntosh Patrick (1907–1998)
Oil on canvas
H 62.8 x W 78 cm
The Fleming Collection

.

Gymnast
© the artist. Photo credit: Hinckley Academy and John Cleveland Sixth Form Centre
Gymnast 1988
Bill Bate (b.1962)
Oil on canvas
H 122 x W 91 cm
Hinckley Academy and John Cleveland Sixth Form Centre

.

Sir John Barbirolli (1899–1970)
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Royal Academy of Music
Sir John Barbirolli (1899–1970) 1975
Byron Howard (b.1947)
Fibre glass & steel
H 61 x W 60.9 x D 45.7 cm
Royal Academy of Music

.

Mary Jane Seacole, née Grant
Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

A Celebration of Life

A diverse range of images which use the features of light and colour in different genres and media to celebrate human endeavours and achievements. The following four artworks draw attention to and reflect different female life experiences. They are united through a sense of positivity, reflection and strength.

Mary Jane Seacole, née Grant 1869
Albert Charles Challen (1847–1881)
Oil on panel
H 24 x W 18 cm
National Portrait Gallery, London

.

There's Joy in Remembrance (Portrait of a Lady at Her Desk)
Photo credit: Burton Art Gallery and Museum
There's Joy in Remembrance (Portrait of a Lady at Her Desk)
Walter Dendy Sadler (1854–1923)
Oil on canvas
H 56.5 x W 41 cm
Burton Art Gallery and Museum

.

African Dancer
© the artist. Photo credit: Cardiff Council
African Dancer
Elga Rabe (b.1949)
Acrylic on canvas
H 88.5 x W 118 cm
Cardiff Council

.

Joie de vivre
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: East Dunbartonshire Council
Joie de vivre
Arthur R. Griffith (1904–1992)
Oil on canvas
H 75.5 x W 101.5 cm
East Dunbartonshire Council

.

A Birthday Bouquet
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Royal Birmingham Society of Artists
A Birthday Bouquet c.1995
Joy Honigsberger (b.1928)
Acrylic on paper
H 55 x W 42 cm
Royal Birmingham Society of Artists