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he ART IN NEWPORT series of exhibitions attracted press attention and some enthusiastic art reviews.

Local press interest focussed on the new online dimension of the exhibitions. The exhibition websites were affirmed as adding interpretive value and extending public access to the collections.

THE ART OF THE NUDE exhibition made for sensationalist headlines in the UK daily press when it opened in July 2008, followed by global Web coverage. | Right: 
Daily Mirror.

2009 - 2010

  • The ART IN NEWPORT archive was a key source for a recently published history of the University of Wales, Newport.

Peter Brown's lavishly illustrated and entertaining No more worlds to Conquer: The Story of Newport’s University (2009) rises above the usual dry as dust institutional history, to connect with the social drama and radical history of Newport. / Read more here.

The Art of the Nude

The portrait was bought by a public gallery in 1947 and more than 20,000 people queued to see it. However, council chiefs in Newport, South Wales, decided that the painting was scandalising their town and ordered that it be taken down. | The picture, which became known as the “Newport Nude”, has been locked in a vault ever since. | Now, as part of an exhibition in Newport called The Art of the Nude, the portrait is still a talking point. | Elizabeth Ayres, 38, a local resident, said: “She’s a bit of a Fag Ash Lil, but I can’t imagine why the painting would be banned.”

  • 22 July 2008: "Banned brazen nude" 

ensationalist headlines appeared in the UK daily press |  Daily Mirror  |  Daily Mail | Daily Telegraph |  BBC News | thisislondon.co.uk



The controversy surrounding the so-called "Newport Nude" painting by Sir Gerald Festus Kelly was featured on the BBC Radio Wales news programme "Good Evening Wales" on 22 July 2008 | I
nterview with Guest Curators John Wilson and Roger Cucksey, probing behind the sensationalist headlines courted by the daily press to focus upon the factual history of Kelly's controversial Nude Study - for it was never actually banned by Newport Town Council in 1947.

Mark Soady, minor canon at St Woolas Cathedral in Newport said he had no issue with the painting appearing in the art gallery. | "I think at the time people were much more sensitive about these things," he added. | "1947 is 60 years ago. Now we are much more understanding of these things. There are many more important issues in the world to get concerned and worried about." | One visitor Elizabeth Ayres, 38, an office worker, said: "She's a bit of a Fag Ash Lil but I can't imagine why the painting would be banned."Maybe it's because of the way she is staring - women in those days weren't allowed to be that brassy." 

The nude - titled D.D after the initials of the model - was painted by Sir Gerald Kelly who painted the Royal family of the day and later became president of the Royal Academy. | It was bought by Newport's Museum and Art Gallery for £250 after it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1947. | But the painting has proved to be a good investment for Newport - its current value is thought to be around £30,000.| Visitors to the gallery were today unflustered by the brazen nude - but were more offended because she is smoking. | Office worker Elizabeth Ayres, 38, of Newport, said: 'She's a bit of a Fag Ash Lil but I can't imagine why the painting would be banned. | Maybe it's because of the way she is staring - women in those days weren't allowed to be that brassy.'

An oil painting of a nude woman went back on show today - more than 60 years after it was banned for being 'too brazen'.| The portrait of a naked woman smoking was bought by a public gallery in 1947 which proudly displayed it for all to see. | More than 20,000 people queued up to see it - until it caused an row with church elders. | Brazen: The painting by Sir Gerald Kelly of a nude woman smoking has gone back on show - more than 60 years after it was banned | Embarrassed council chiefs in Newport, South Wales, decided the painting was scandalising their town and ordered it to be taken down.| The picture which became known as the 'Newport Nude' has been locked up in a vault gathering dust - until now. |It has gone back on show at an exhibition in Newport called The Art of the Nude where it is still the talking point among 90 other pictures and sculptures. | But now more people are complaining about the fact that she is smoking in public rather than her nudity. 


The 'Newport Nude', as it became known, has just been returned to the public gaze in a exhibition of around 90 paintings called The Art of the Nude. | (...) Today's viewers have shown few qualms about the nude being displayed - other than the fact that the model pictured is smoking. 


Defiantly naked and smoking a cigarette, she sees the light of day for the first time since she was covered up in a public scandal 61 years ago. | This painting of a mystery nude was put on display again yesterday by the council that paid £250 for it in 1947. | More than 20,000 people queued to see it then. But the erotic image was too rude for church leaders, who persuaded the council to put it away. |The Daily Mirror reported on December 31 1947: "A bishop objects to nude bought by town."


"A saucy nude who scandalised Newport in the 1940s is once again being exposed to the public gaze. | Clothed and unclothed and ranging from the strictly representational through to the abstract the exhibition shows off one of the finest art collections in Wales and which is Newport's hidden treasure. (...) | In a move to make more of its collection accessible Newport's art gallery has over the last year been putting its pictures online. The nudes can be seen on 
this website and the series of which it is part on here".     

  • In 1947 the Daily Mirror covered the story "A bishop objects to "Nude" bought by town". Shown here are some examples of the Newport Nude controversy from the Newport Museum and Art Gallery's newscuttings album (click on the image to enlarge). See further details and a case study of the Festus Kelly Newport Nude controversy here.


Online exhibition

"Newport has a wealth of art treasures (...) But with space at a premium, just five per cent of the gems are on public display.| Now public watchdogs are to look at how to increase public access to the collection, which could include virtual viewing. | Cllr Davies suggested the authority's culture and recreation scrutiny forum should examine the issue.| Earlier this year, we reported how Newport's Keeper of Art Roger Cucksey and guest curator John Wilson launched the gallery's first ever on-line exhibition, Documenting the City [ see here ].| A varied programme of temporary exhibitions is presented by the Art Gallery (...). Officers point out in the report that the art "is an important visitor attraction which can make a significant contribution to tourism, thus aiding the economic regeneration of the city"

The Art of Collecting

"Since opening a gallery space in 1895, Newport Museum has collected an important and vastly diverse body of work. | The Art of Collecting means that many historically important pieces are at last on show to the public. The calibre is top-notch and among the artists represented are LS Lowry and Sir Stanley Spencer. | There's a sense of balance to this exhibition, encompassing both new and old, classical and satirical".  



Documenting the City 

  • Buzz Magazine, June 2007 | DOCUMENTING THE CITY  

"The exhibition also celebrates the city's desire to carry itself steadily forward into the future. This unique collection will not only be museum-bound as people can access and admire the anthology from their very own homes - an online gallery and archive has been set up to further enhance Newport's reputation as an extremely forward moving and thought provoking metropolis".

"Painstakingly, scouring not only Newport Museum and Art Gallery's own collection but also council offices, committee rooms and annexes, Roger Cucksey and friend and colleague John Wilson have amassed an actual and virtual art collection telling Newport's story from its rustic beginnings, through its flowering as an industrial Hercules in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the re-invention of itself as a city for the 21st century 



  • 30th May 2007 | metro.co.uk | Art Review - Documenting the City: Art and Society in Newport  

"The exhibition offers a historical tour de force" 





Online exhibition 

"The way the public accesses the collection could be about to change forever, if an exciting new venture by Mr Cucksey and guest curator John Wilson is allowed to develop. | They are launching the gallery's first ever online version of an exhibition, DOCUMENTING THE CITY on May 11 (...) Long-term, this now opens up the possibility of creating an online catalogue of the collection, allowing a wider public than ever before to access this tremendous local resource, not least schools, art students and young people".