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Exhibitions image of Fanny Cornforth by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (detail)

A Walk in the Woods – A Celebration of Trees in British Art

Image credit: George Price Boyce (1826 – 1897) At Binsey near Oxford, 1862, watercolour on paper.


30th September 2017 - 25th February 2018

Wixamtree Gallery - Free Entry


This autumn, The Higgins Bedford pays homage to the tree with a new exhibition celebrating the role of trees and woodland in British landscape painting. Drawn from the world-famous Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Collection, some forty watercolours, drawings and prints from the past two centuries will be on show and will include works by John Constable, John Sell Cotman, Edward Lear, Samuel Palmer, Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland and Lucian Freud. The show will highlight the importance and enduring popularity of trees in art, and explore various themes which have evolved in artists’ depictions of nature: magical and dreaming trees, trees in the countryside, the pleasures of woods and the lure of the exotic.

The exhibition has been organised in collaboration with Christiana Payne, Professor of History of Art at Oxford Brookes University.


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Anne Frank and Family

Photographs by Otto Frank

24th January – 1st March 2018

Free Entry

Anne Frank and Family, an exhibition of family photographs by Otto Frank, taken before World War Two will be free to visit at The Higgins Bedford from 24th January – 18th February 2018. The exhibition has been brought to Bedford by the Anne Frank Trust and forms a central part of Bedford’s Holocaust Memorial events.

The exhibition has been shown in St Paul’s Cathedral, London, as well as New York, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. It is accompanied by a collection of period toys, clothes and books, reflecting those captured in the photos, as well as educational resources for younger visitors.

There will be a programme of free events accompanying the exhibition.

Wednesday 24th January, 6.30pm: Survivor stories from Rwanda

Wednesday 31st January, 6.30pm: Survivors stories from Srebrenica

Wednesday 7th February, 6.30pm: Eva Clarke, who was born in Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria on 29 April 1945 will share her story

13th – 16th February: The Higgins Young Peoples’ Panel (HYPP) will lead a series of activities related to the exhibition and the theme of The Power of Words during February half-term.

Read more about the exhibition here>


Bawden’s Beasts

Opens 10th February 2018

Edward Bawden Gallery – Free Entry


Celebrated artist Edward Bawden’s lifelong preoccupation with all manner of creatures – from delicate insects to farm grazers and domestic pets, and from exotic jungle and desert dwellers to fantastical shape-shifting beasts – will be the focus of this enchanting exhibition drawn from the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery Collection. 

The creatures that inhabit Bawden’s work reveal his extraordinary talent for visual expression and storytelling, often using the simplest of lines. Inventive and humorous, Bawden put animals great and small to work in his commissions for book illustrations, advertisements and posters, in which they adopt human guises for their amusing antics: a giraffe dons a blazer, cravat and boater to advertise British Petroleum and an army of ants armed with mops and brooms adorns the cover of Take The Broom. Wallpaper designs, drawings, prints and murals reveal Bawden’s fascination with animals and marine life, anthropomorphic insects and the macabre. The exhibition will feature Bawden’s work in a range of media throughout the course of his career, including his imaginative advertisements for Fortnum & Mason, and evocative prints of Aesop’s Fables.


Break The Stigma - Art display challenging prejudice and discrimination around mental health

The Higgins Bedford celebrated World Mental Health Day on October 10th 2017 with the launch of our new mindful art display, created by service users and people with a lived experience of mental health issues. The artwork was created over a series of workshops in partnership with Dr Ben Salmons; Break the Stigma Campaign lead at East London NHS foundation and Damon Poulton; local artist.

The art, and creative writing/poetry about the works are on display outside the Settlement Gallery.


To see other activities at the Higgins relating to wellbeing click here.


Sankofa: Bedfordshire's Black History Uncovered


“It is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.”

30th September 2017 - 25th February 2018

Connections Gallery - Free Entry


Sankofa is an African word from the Akan tribe in Ghana it is based on a mythical bird and symbolizes this people’s quest for knowledge. To the Akan, it is this wisdom in learning from the past which ensures a strong future.


This exhibition will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Black History Month in the UK and explore Bedfordshire’s own Black History through the inspirational people within the African and Caribbean community who have been instrumental in their leadership and achievements.

Click here to see more details


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Click here to look back at our previous exhibitions.