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ARTIST ROOMS: Agnes Martin

The career of Agnes Martin (1912 – 2004) spanned nearly five decades. During this time, she became one of America’s foremost abstract painters.

Her style was underpinned by her deep belief in the emotive and expressive power of art. She sought to represent how nature made her feel and could make us feel – humble, joyous, free. For Agnes, the horizontal line was her joy; the expanse of the horizon and open plain or the serenity of the sea. Martin's work offers a kind of spirituality and transcendence, with subtle colours that appear to project beyond the paintings themselves to engage all the senses. Their delicacy and vigour provoke awe, and it is this combination of power and visual magnetism that has to be experienced.

Agnes Martin at The Gallery 
The Gallery, Winchester Discovery Centre, 2018

This exhibition draws from the ARTIST ROOMS touring collection of over 1,600 works of modern and contemporary art. The collection is displayed across the UK in solo exhibitions that showcase the work of more than 40 major artists, and this touring programme gives young people the chance to get involved in creative projects, discover more about art and learn new skills. Since 2009, 40 million people have visited more than 150 displays at over 75 museums and galleries. ARTIST ROOMS is jointly owned by the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. The collection was established through The d’Offay Donation in 2008, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund, and the Scottish and British Governments.

Hampshire Cultural Trust has created two small exhibitions by local young people in response to the works of Agnes Martin, in the City Space gallery, 7 July – 6 September.

We also worked with partners Wessex Dance Academy to commission new contemporary dance. Two young professional dancers were auditioned to work with the Academy’s Director of Dance, Hannah Martin, the choreographer of the piece. With bursary support from ARTIST ROOMS the Academy were able to film their piece. Watch their performance here.

Hannah Martin, says

‘The Distance Between Us’ was initially created in response to the work of Agnes Martin, and was heavily influenced by the collection provided by the ARTIST ROOMS scheme, displayed at Winchester Discovery Centre in 2018.

The duet was originally made to be danced alongside the artwork, and used the dimensions of the gallery space to emphasise the theme of perspective. The audience had a choice to zoom in and focus on the detail of the action in the foreground, or zoom out and see full-bodied, sweeping shapes of the background. Martin’s use of line was translated to tether the dancers physically, as well as connecting them using strong spatial tensions, throughout the duet.

‘The Distance Between Us’ has since been performed on stage, and been made into a dance for film. WDA were provided with the extraordinary opportunity to film the duet in the house and grounds of The Grange Estate in December 2018, which provided a stunning backdrop for the piece. In this version, we explored how different spaces can spark a sense of nostalgia and can stir memories of shared times and feelings, connecting us to people who we may no longer have a physical connection to. The journey of the dancers through the film was influenced by the spaces at The Grange, from their arrival in the house and being drawn together, to their finale on stage.


  • Agnes Martin at the Gallery
  • Agnes Martin at the Gallery
  • Agnes Martin at the Gallery
  • Agnes Martin

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The Gallery

Address: Winchester Discovery Centre, Jewry Street, Winchester, SO23 8SB
Telephone: 01962 873603

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