Journalist and broadcaster David Dimbleby will take on a new role this Autumn – as he guest curates a major art exhibition at Towner Eastbourne alongside his daughter Liza, artist and writer. The exhibition takes place from 5 Oct 2024 – 27 April 2025.

It is ten years since Towner became an independent charity and since David Dimbleby was appointed as Towner’s Chair. In September 2024, he will step down from this role.

To mark this, together with Liza, he has been invited to curate an ambitious thought-provoking exhibition focused on drawing titled Drawing the Unspeakable. A wide range of artists will be included, such as David Bomberg, Barbara Hepworth, Madge Gill and James Gillray, drawn both from the Towner Collection and from other Collections such as the British Museum, Bethlem Museum of the Mind and  Ben Uri Gallery and Museum.

The works will straddle both modern and contemporary artists including Denzil Forrester, Emma Talbot, Ansel Krut and Emma Woffenden. The Towner works will mainly be chosen from drawings in the Collection such as Dennis Creffield, Study for The Resource of Loneliness, 1978, Elisabeth Frink, Drawing for Harbinger Bird, 1960 and Eric Ravilious, Three Brothers, undated. 

To David and Liza, drawing is a medium that has the power to convey complex meaning and intense emotion. The exhibition will feature works that communicate experiences that are beyond words. They navigate the impasse of speech to illustrate what can be shown when words fail. 

Numbering over 100 works, this exhibition draws on the intensity of human experience, a translation of an event or moment specific to each artist. These challenge the conventions of speech; disasters, war, displacement, and destruction, mental illness, grief, loss, dreams, memories and imagining.

Accompanying the drawings will be a written dialogue between David and Liza, from their respective viewpoints as journalist and artist, and as father and daughter.

Joe Hill, Director and CEO, Towner Eastbourne, added “We are delighted to host David and Liza to curate this exhibition and to celebrate ten successful years of David’s leadership of our board. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank David for his dedication and work on our behalf . What could be a more fitting end to his journey with us than to ask him to curate an exhibition with his daughter. This thought provoking exhibition will encourage our audiences to look again at the drawings in our Collection, through David and Liza’s unique lens.” 

David Dimbleby said “Co-curating this exhibition has been an exhilarating experience. Liza has always been my companion and guide through the world of art. For a time, during the Covid lockdown, rather than write to each other, we would exchange drawings by email. This was what gave Joe Hill the idea of asking us to put on this exhibition — Drawing taking the place of words.

Liza Dimbleby says “Drawing is a way of speaking. The hand drawn image is able to convey ambivalence and even contradictory impulses, which can make drawing more eloquent than words in communicating the most confounding aspects of human experience, showing us things that even the person drawing may not foresee.”

About the curators: 

David Dimbleby is a journalist and broadcaster of current affairs programmes and documentaries for BBC television. He chaired Question Time for 25 years and has been a reporter for and presenter of Panorama. He is the commentator for a variety of State events and presented ten general election programmes. He has made film series for BBC television about art, architecture and history of Britain. He is the outgoing Chair of Towner Eastbourne. 

Liza Dimbleby is an artist and writer. She has written on painting and drawing for a variety of publications and is the author of I Live Here Now. (Firework, 2008) She has given talks on drawing across the UK, in Paris, Moscow and Novosibirsk. She teaches at the Royal Drawing School, London and lives and works in Glasgow.  

Towner Eastbourne has been collecting and exhibiting contemporary art for more than 100 years. The gallery sits where the coast and the South Downs meet and presents exhibitions of national and international importance for audiences in Eastbourne, the UK and beyond, showcasing the most exciting and creative developments in modern and contemporary art. Towner develops and supports artistic practice and collaborates with individuals, communities and organisations to deliver an inclusive, connected and accessible public programme of live events, film and learning. Towner’s collection of almost 5000 works is best known for its modern British art – including the largest and most significant body of work by Eric Ravilious – and a growing collection of international contemporary art. Towner Eastbourne was Museum, of the Year 2020 and was the host of Turner Prize 2023 / @townergallery