Bridget Riley: A Retrospective
10 November 1998 - 31 January 1999
This exhibition of work by Bridget Riley was the highlight of the year. It included her newest work, seen for the first time by the public, and set in the context of a selection of paintings that stretched back to the beginning of her career.
The paintings were very carefully selected in conjunction with the artist to work in sympathy with the particular exhibition spaces at Abbot Hall. The exhibition was beautifully lit by John Johnson and a certain harmony was created between the paintings and their surroundings.
The familiar domestic scale of the Abbot Hall rooms, with their natural light and views of the landscape outside, encouraged viewers to linger. And perhaps, for some, this helped to give a more rewarding experience than they might have had in the rather alien spaces of some of the larger galleries. As well as being much enjoyed by a public drawn from all over Britain and beyond, the exhibition received wide critical acclaim in the national press.
"Why Kendal? you might ask. The best answer is to go see for yourself. The 18th-century Abbot Hall, set beside the swollen River Kent with a ruined Norman castle on a green hillockbeyond is as good a place as any in which to spend time with paintings as mysteriously beautiful as Bridget Riley's.... These paintings need space and light - and are given it in the bright white rooms of Abbot Hall's upper floor - but they bring everything else with them, both the stored essence of the natural world beyond the windows and the exhilaration of the artist's masterly devices for trapping it."
John Spurling The Spectator, 21 November 1998