Best known for his picturesque architectural and landscape paintings, John Piper was one of Britain's leading abstract artists during the 1930s. He was part of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears’ creative circle, and they worked together for over a quarter of a century, including on designs for Britten’s most famous operas.

This exhibition brings together examples of Piper’s work from Britten and Pears’ collection at The Red House in Aldeburgh, as well as additional pieces gifted to the Archive in more recent years.

The art at The Red House is a very personal collection, shaped over decades around the two men's tastes, rather than any desire to create a set of works that is complete or representative: they bought what they liked, much of it mid-twentieth-century British works but also works from other countries and other centuries. Many of the best-represented artists were friends or connections of Pears and Britten, such as Mary Potter and Piper.

Britten's work was often collaborative: not the result of a composer in an ivory tower, but of someone working with specific musicians and a specific venue in mind, with like-minded people from other disciplines within his creative circle. John Piper was a long-standing member of this circle and worked with Britten for over a quarter of a century, starting with set designs for Britten's 1947 opera The Rape of Lucretia.

The exhibition, located in the house gallery, explores Piper’s journey as an artist and the rich and creative output of his work with Britten. On display there will be set and costume designs as well as landscapes and portraits.

About John Piper CH

Born in Surrey, John Piper studied at the Royal College of Art in London from 1926 to 1928. He is best known for his picturesque architectural and landscape paintings, which are in the Romantic tradition of William Blake and J.M.W. Turner. However, during the mid- to late-1930s he was one of Britain's leading abstract artists. Piper worked as an Official War Artist in 1944, recording damage caused by bombing. In the 1950s he branched out, creating designs for stained glass, pottery, textiles and stage sets as well as writing on art and architecture.

There will be two additional displays during Aldeburgh Festival.