Nature’s Presence

An Arts Council Collection National Partners Exhibition

‘Nature’s Presence’ is an exhibition inspired by Blakesley Hall’s history and its relationship with nature. The exhibition is set within the Hall and the Visitors Centre.

Blakesley is a timber-framed Tudor house located in Yardley, a residential suburban area a few miles outside Birmingham city centre. It was built in 1590 by Richard Smallbroke, one of Birmingham’s leading merchant families. Nature has always been present at Blakesley. Inside the Hall, wall paintings of flowers have decorated the rooms since the 17th century. Within the Hall’s grounds is a garden and an orchard which continues to flourish. In the past the gardens have been used by the Hall’s families in different ways and today they are a hub of community activity.

The artworks in ‘Nature’s Presence’ have been selected from the Arts Council Collection, Birmingham’s collection and other major collections. They range in media from film and photography to painting and sculpture. The artists look at the natural world, looking at flowers, animals and fruit from different artistic perspectives.

Artists include John Blakemore, Oliver Clare, Ruth Claxton, Brian Duffy, Kaff Gerrard, Nerys Johnson, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Josef Herman, Ivon Hitchens, Georgie Hopton, Thomas Henry Kendall,
Pradip Malde, Margaret Mellis, Helen McQuillan, Hayley Newman and Stanley Spencer. The exhibition is accompanied by a presentation of rare herbarium specimens that are native to Yardley. A work by Paula Rego is also on display in Gallery 21 at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

A comprehensive learning and access programme accompanies this exhibition.



The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.