Stage Diptych VIII, Maggi Hambling, oil on canvas, each canvas 35.5 x 25.5, framed 38.5 x 56.5 cm

The artist Maggi Hambling will present her first exhibition at Glyndebourne at the 2022 Glyndebourne Festival, with support from Marlborough Gallery. One of Britain’s most significant and controversial artists, Hambling has established a reputation over the last four decades as a singular contemporary force whose work continues to move, seduce and challenge. Maggi Hambling: Glyndebourne features a new series of diptychs and ink drawings which resonate with this year’s Glyndebourne Festival productions, along with a large-scale painting that will hang prominently in the Glyndebourne foyer. 

The exhibition will include six prints of ink drawings, each one selected by Hambling to represent one of this year’s productions, and a series titled Stage Diptychs I-XII that portray figures in a variety of poses on stage. Using a bold palette of Indian yellows, black, oxblood and white, these paired paintings reflect Hambling’s longstanding interest in performers and the art of performance. As with much of the artist’s output, the works for Glyndebourne deal with themes of desire, ecstasy, life, loss and death. 

Maggi Hambling: Glyndebourne, will be presented across a number of locations at the opera house, including the Old Green Room, rarely accessible to the public. Constructed in the 1930s, the space features original wood panelling and floorboards and today is used as a rehearsal and entertaining space. Hambling’s works will revitalise the Old Green Room with new energy, recalling its intended purpose as a place for performers. 

The six new ink drawings will be featured in the 2022 Glyndebourne Festival Programme Book and available to purchase in a signed and numbered limited-edition portfolio, published by Plinth. 

When asked what she is most looking forward to about exhibiting at Glyndebourne, Hambling reveals that it’s being part of a season that excites her most: ‘The Festival happens and then it’s gone. My work will be there for a precise amount of time, and I hope that it can match the intensity of the music, the staging. You’ve got to be brave when you make an opera. And you’ve got to be brave when you make a painting. You have to have no fear.’

Maggi Hambling: Glyndebourne will be available to view by ticket-holders to the 2022 Glyndebourne Festival, which runs from 21 May – 28 August, and by appointment. It follows the artist’s first major solo show in New York, which opened this month at Marlborough Gallery.

Hambling is the latest in a long line of artists to collaborate with Glyndebourne. In 2022 Glyndebourne marks 70 years of its annual Festival Programme Book, a highly collectable publication featuring beautifully illustrated, expert articles that celebrate and explore the operas on stage at Glyndebourne each summer. One of the special features of the Programme Book is its cover art, which over the years has been designed by some of the biggest names in British stage design and contemporary art.

To mark the anniversary, Glyndebourne will present Cover to Cover – an exhibition of original cover art by designers such as Oliver Messel, Emanuele Luzzati and Elizabeth Bury, including a number of artworks that are being exhibited to the public for the first time. The exhibition will bring together original covers alongside costumes, photography and archive material to showcase the Glyndebourne Festival Programme Book in a new and exciting way.

Archivist Philip Boot describes the significance of the Glyndebourne Programme Book: ‘The Glyndebourne Festival Programme Book cover represents the best of theatre design. Stage designers from Maurice Sendak to John Macfarlane to David Hockney and Sue Blane. In more recent years we have seen a shift to contemporary fine artists, with Raqib Shaw, Fiona Rae and Grayson Perry’s work gracing the cover. Some of these artists are making their first steps in their engagement with music and opera, whilst for others, it plays an integral part of their daily artistic practice. Looking back at the covers from 1952 onwards, they serve not only as a record of changing tastes, but remind us of the quality of work and artistic engagement, both on and off stage, that represents everything we do at Glyndebourne.’

On display will be new work by the celebrated British photographic artist Mark Vessey, who creates cultural portraits by photographing curated collections of vinyl, magazines and books. Vessey has collaborated with Glyndebourne to create a new limited edition photograph inspired by the history of the Festival Programme Book, titled GLYNDEBOURNE. The work includes a blank space for 2020, the only year when a Programme Book has not been produced since its inception in 1952. Vessey will also present OPERA, a new photographic print of opera vinyl relating to Glyndebourne’s history and repertoire.

Mark Vessey - Glyndebourne Press Copy (1).jpg

GLYNDEBOURNE, Mark Vessey, photographic print, 150 x 300 cm

Cover to Cover will be exhibited across two spaces, Gallery 94 and the Archive Gallery, where Festival 2022 ticket-holders will be able to view the costumes and artworks in addition to past Programme Books. 

Completing the exhibition programme is new work by British painter and printmaker Tom Hammick, Glyndebourne’s Associate Artist for 2021-2022. He returns with a series of colourful monotypes made over the last year. Drawing on the design and stagecraft of the 2022 Festival productions, Hammick will explore perennial themes in this work – wonderment for the environment and concern for climate change, love and loss, poetry and music.

Art & Collections at Glyndebourne 

The visual arts have been an integral part of the Glyndebourne experience since the inception of its annual summer opera festival in 1934. The company curates regular exhibitions of contemporary art and sculpture, many of which take place in Gallery 94, a purpose-built exhibition gallery located inside the opera house. In addition, the Art & Collections department oversee Glyndebourne’s internationally significant collection of opera and theatre material, including costumes, photography, original artworks and designs.