Edward Lear (1812 – 1888) is known around the world as a prolific nonsense poet, especially as the author of The Owl and The Pussy-Cat and many other limericks and songs. However, his first love was drawing and painting and over a period of fifty years he travelled in Europe, the Middle East, India and beyond, producing thousands of pictures. Ikon’s exhibition is the first solely devoted to Lear’s sketches and landscape drawings from across the entire span of his career.
This show examines the artist’s fascination with the creative process and is especially concerned with how his work came into being – through experimental methods of composition, successive drafts, doodlings and written marginalia. It also offers a study of the momentary and explores how Lear’s sense of the present was shot through and saturated by other moments.
The exhibition features approximately 60 works by Lear, many never shown before in public, and draws on collections in both the US and the UK. It is co-curated by Matthew Bevis, Professor in English Literature, University of Oxford and Jonathan Watkins, Ikon Director.