Rugby's history caught on canvas for new exhibition

RARE pictures which capture the changing face of Rugby through the 20th century feature in a new exhibition at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum.
Rugby School art teacher Gertrude Hayes found the school's buildings a constant source of inspiration for her detailed etchings.
20 March 2024

Picturing Rugby takes a deep dive into the museum's archives to present paintings, etchings, sketches and prints of the town, many of which have never been on public display.

The pictures feature iconic landmarks such as Rugby School and St Andrew's Church through the years, and also capture buildings long-consigned to history, including Holy Trinity Church.

Picturing Rugby has pieces from leading commercial artists of the day, who were commissioned to create a record of the town's street scenes.

Joseph Pike produced a series of drawings of London, Bristol, Chester and Stratford-upon-Avon, and his work in Rugby resulted in a book - Rugby, A Series of Pencil Sketches by Joseph Pike.

The book, published in 1930, included a forward penned by HC Bradby, an assistant master at Rugby School.

Fellow commercial artist Eddie Scott-Jones drew street scenes of the town in the late 1970s and early 80s, and his pictures captured views of Regent Street and North Street, which both feature in the exhibition.

Picturing Rugby also includes etchings by Gertrude Hayes, a Rugby School art teacher and an alumni of the Royal College of Art.

Hayes was etching Rugby street scenes in the early 20th century, pieces rich in the intricate detail which became her trademark.

The exhibition also includes works by Hayes' second husband, Edwin Betts, who shared his wife's love of architecture and developed his own distinctive style while etching town centre scenes.

Catherine Shanahan, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum's senior collections officer, said Picturing Rugby captured the town through a century of change.

"From commercial artists commissioned to create a historical record of the town to 'amateur' artists who found Rugby's iconic buildings a constant source of inspiration, the exhibition includes familiar street scenes and snapshots of the town's lost history," Catherine said.

"With many of the pieces on public display for the first time, Picturing Rugby presents a unique record of the changing face of the town centre through the 20th century."

Picturing Rugby opens at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum on Wednesday 10 April and runs until Saturday 5 October.

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