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Current time:0:00Total duration:2:33

Video transcript

The works in this section of the gallery come from a period around 1910 to 1914. The Edwardian era when art was undergoing all sorts of extraordinary change and what comes across through all these works is this period of great energy, of artistic change and of dynamism as Britain becomes modernised and the centre of an empire. These two objects are, I think, two of the greatest sculptures made in the 20th century. The ‘Female Figure in Flenite’ by Jacob Epstein and Gaudier-Brzeska ‘Red Stone Dancer’ and you can see these artists are looking to the traditions of African tribal sculpture and other cultures as well as the modernism of Picasso in generating an art that deals with the fundamentals of life of movement and of sexuality. Look at this extraordinary pregnant figure carved out of serpentine rock. It has all the energy and tension of an African carving extraordinary coming from London before the First World War. See how W Nevinson was the only signed up British member of the Futurist group and this is typical of their style of fragmented image expressing energy and movement of the modern age. It’s a painting about transatlantic voyaging. It’s called ‘The Arrival’. You can see the form of the liner coming into harbour. This is the age of the Titanic, of glamorous New York voyages from Europe. I love this painting for its contrast with so many of the things around it. Next to their modernist dynamism and art about a new mechanical public world this quiet subdued painting by Mabel Nicholson is a depiction of a simple Edwardian domestic interior. It records her own family, including her eldest son Ben who will become one of the great artists of the 20th century and I love the gentleness, the quiet observation of this simple domestic, intimate scene.