Dorset has had a particular resonance for Keith Grant since the late 1950s, when he was a student at the Royal College of Art. He was drawn to the county as a result of reading Jacquetta Hawkes’ A Land and looking at the work of Paul Nash, both of which confirmed his passion for landscape, and especially landscape in which natural and human history intersect. His works with Dorset subjects were showcased at the New Art Centre, the Belgravia gallery run by Madeleine Ponsonby and Carol Winnery, and especially at his first solo show, held there in February 1960.
The Dorset Mural was generated by Keith in his desire to produce a composition on a large-scale, possibly in emulation of a tapestry. He gave the resulting oil on canvas (8ft 1in x 13ft 6in) to Carol and her husband-to-be, the artist, John Hubbard, and they hung it in their house near Bridport, in west Dorset. Some years later, the Hubbards gave it to their friend, John Sainsbury, and it then hung in Basingstoke, at the regional headquarters of J Sainsbury plc. Its acquisition by the Chris Beetles Gallery provided Keith with the opportunity to return it to its pristine state.
This exhibition presents one of Keith’s grandest statements in the context of a range of his many achievements in the intervening 60 years.