In 1925 Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst, a pair of progressive-minded, fantastically wealthy Americans, purchased Dartington Hall, a dilapidated medieval manor set in 800 acres of South Devon. Here, over the next 40 years, they searched for what Leonard Elmhirst described as "an abundant life". They built a school, ran an experimental farm, and collected paintings - predominantly by young British artists such as Ben Nicholson, Christopher Wood and David Jones.
Some of these are now housed at High Cross House on the Dartington Estate, a delightful little modernist villa (all white walls and sun terraces) designed by the Swiss architect William Lescaze in 1932. It reopens for the spring and summer on Tuesday with a selection from the Dartington collection and a temporary exhibition exploring the links between the American painter Mark Tobey and he English visionary Cecil Collins - both of whom were on the Dartington staff in the 1930s and who shared an interest in Eastern art and philosophy.
This temporary exhibition is the brainchild of Franki Austin, a painter who has used the Dartington archives to research Collins and Tobey and then to make her own work in response to theirs. It is a slightly puzzling idea: to use two bodies of existing work in order to create a third, but the result is a serious and thoughtful investigation of the nature of artistic influence.
Austin's dense and complex pictures are on show alongside those by Collins and Tobey until 6 April - a good reason to visit High Cross House sooner rather than later.
EYE ON THE NEW
Consolation for all those who missed Ian McKeever's subtle abstractions in Nottingham earlier this year. That exhibition has gone to Pori in Finland, but from Wednesday, he will be showing a fine selection of recent paintings, drawings and prints.
Alan Cristea Gallery at 31 Cork Street, London W1, to19 AprReuse content