Watercolour at War

Eric Ravilious, Norway, 1940


Until Saturday 20 June

Visitor information

Opening Times


*Excluding bank holidays

Closed on bank holidays

Donations welcome (free entry). No booking required


Watercolour at War is the first in a series of exhibitions that critically examine why artists have chosen to use watercolour. During the First and Second World Wars, war artists used watercolour out of necessity. The medium is portable, adaptable and quicker-drying than oil paint meaning that they could work at speed to capture what was happening around them.

The exhibition focuses on the Second World War and the interwar period in Britain. It also highlights wartime printmaking through the Artists International Association (AIA) Everyman Prints.

The series is inspired by the Laing’s recent acquisition of Edward Burra’s Landscape with Red Wheels (1937-9).  Due to suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and a debilitating blood disease, Burra struggled to work upright at a canvas and instead chose to work flat on a table in watercolour. To this end, Burra achieved a vibrant opacity that is rarely captured through the medium. 

Image: Norway by Eric Ravilious, 1940 © Laing Art Gallery