There's no doubt that London is at the centre of the nation's cultural life, particularly when it comes to the visual arts, but that isn't the whole story by any means. It gives me great pleasure, therefore, to recommend a London exhibition that is specially designed to make us all look further afield. The Royal Academy's Art Treasures of England is an inspired gathering of some 450 works of art from 100 regional collections, which demonstrates the breadth of wonderful things that exist outside the capital.
Not surprisingly, there's a large section devoted to 19th-century British art, the mainstay of so many collections up and down the country, including famous works by the likes of Waterhouse and Millais. But there are also a number of less familiar exhibits such as The Exile, a fine portrait by TC Gotch from the Alfred East Gallery in Kettering, and GP Boyce's glittering view of Babbacombe Bay from the Astley Cheetham Art Gallery in Stalybridge - a reminder that there was more to Pre-Raphaelitism than sickly girls in expensive frocks.
It isn't all British, of course, indeed many of the best things are from the wider history of world art, including Renaissance gems from Rochdale and Liverpool, and a fantastic Degas pastel of Jockeys before the Race from Birmingham's Barber Institute. The 20th-century selection is pre-dominantly English, which is a fair indication of what one finds in the regional galleries, but in the selection are some of my favourite British pictures of the century, such as Christopher Wood's Le Phare from Kettle's Yard in Cambridge and the Towner Art Gallery's Downs in Winter by Eric Ravilious. It's a terrific mixture and an exhibition not to be missed.
Art Treasures of England, The Royal Academy, Piccadilly, W1 (0171-300 8000) 22 Jan-13 AprilReuse content