Twin towns in art
Cultural connections between the UK and Europe
Cultural connections between the UK and Europe
Cultural cooperation between nations and cultures comes in many forms - from informal collaborations between artists to multi-partner cultural and digital projects like Europeana is involved with.
Involving whole towns and cities, one of the largest forms of cultural cooperation may be town twinning. There are many twinned towns and cities (sometimes also called sister cities) across Europe.
Town or city twinning involves communities in different countries becoming connected, finding similarities in their histories, demographics, societal or cultural traditions. Some town twinning projects are formally agreed, lasting many years with comprehensive programmes of work. Some can be more informal.
Let's explore these connections. To do so, we've explored ArtUK, the online home for every public art collection in the United Kingdom. Artworks of town or cities from each of the British nations on their website will be matched with those from Europeana, depicting their European twin city.
Exeter is the county town of Devon in the southwest of England. Its history dates back to Roman times, with a towering cathedral founded in the 11th century. The cathedral is built on the edge of a ridge whichforms the backbone of the city, meaning that the cathedral can be seen from a long distance.
The cathedral interior has been captured in this painting from 1797 by artist Thomas Girtin. It is a watercolour, typical of Girtin's style using warm browns and slate greys to capture landscapes and architecture. The painting is now part of the collections of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery in Exeter.
Exeter is twinned with Rennes in France, another city with a large cathedral. The Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Rennes has been a historic monument since 1906, but its history stretches back until at least the 6th century. The existing building was built in stages, dating between the 1540s and early 1700s.
This building has inspired a pair of photographer brothers known as Charlet. The brothers - Étienne and Louis-Antonin Neurdein - opened a photography studio in Paris in 1863. Étienne ran the photo studio and specialised in portrait photography, while Louis-Antonin travelled and photographed landscapes, buildings and monuments.
Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland, has been twinned with Turin in Italy since 2003.
The city of Glasgow expanded greatly from the 18th century onwards, its growth fueled by industrial development. The city centre is based on a grid system of streets - one of which, Renfield Street, is portrayed here. Renfield Street has been a location for offices and shops, as well as cinemas and theatres. This oil painting by Patrick S. Dunn dates from 1887, and shows the street busy with transport and pedestrians.
Turin, in the Piedmont province in Italy, also saw a rapid growth due to industrialisation. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the automobile industry was found in the city, with FIAT and Lancia factories.
Much of the city's centre had already been laid out previously, between the 16th and 18th centuries. The city's baroque architecture includes castles, gardens, palazzi and public squares. One of the main city squares in Turin, Piazza San Carlo, is depicted in this artwork by Francesco Gamba, an artist from Turin who specialised in landscape painting.
The name Piazza San Carlo is perhaps triply appropriate: the Church of San Carlo Borromeo is situated on the edge of the square (along with the Church of Santa Cristina), the square's equestrian statue was designed by Carlo Marochetti and the surrounding porticos were designed by Carlo di Castellamonte.
Aberystwyth is a town in Wales, twinned with Arklow, a town in County Wicklow in Ireland. Both places face each other across the Irish Sea. Aberystwyth sits on Cardigan Bay, while Arklow is situated at the mouth of the River Avoca where it meets Arklow Bay.
Both places are defined by their locations at the mouths of rivers. The word Aberystwyth means 'the mouth of the Ystwyth', a river which flows from the Cambrian mountains into Cardigan Bay. The Irish name for Arklow is An tInbhear Mór, meaning 'the great estuary' for the Avoca river.
This geography has been captured in these paintings.
This oil painting Aberystwyth from Constitution Hill is by William Ward Gill, and dates from 1861.
This painting depicts green fields and landscapes near Aberystwyth. It was painted by Belgian artist Valerius de Saedeleer between 1914 and 1918, when de Saedeleer and his family lived in Wales as refugees from World War I.
This watercolour from 1861 depicts workers on the shore of Arklow Bay. It was painted by Irish artist George Victor Du Noyer, who was often commissioned to realistically depict Irish locations.
This coloured aquatint from 1800 is by landscape painter Thomas Walmsley, and depicts the point where two rivers meet to create the Avoca River which flows on to Arklow.
Bangor, a city in County Down in Northern Ireland, is twinned with Bregenz, a city in Austria. Both towns have important tourism industries, in part due to their location near large bodies of water.
Bangor is located on the east coast of Northern Ireland, on the south shore of Belfast Lough. This part of the Lough is known as Ballyholme Bay. During the 19th century, Bangor's tourism industry developed, as the city became a place to spend time by the sea. Many of the city's seafront buildings where built during this time.
These two oil paintings are by artist Thomas Hanna. They show buildings along two streets in Bangor, the Parade and Shore Street.
Bregenz, a city in the Vorarlberg region of Austria, is located on the shores of Lake Constance (Bodensee). With the Alps reaching nearby, Bregenz and its surrounding region are an area of great natural beauty. This has led to the development of a strong tourism industry, focusing on outdoor sports and activities such as boating, swimming, hiking and cycling.
Though very different in style, the view of Bangor's building is echoed in this 17th century engraving which shows the buildings of Bregenz along the shores of Bodensee. It is one of several hundred views and maps of cities, published together at Theatrum Urbium by engraver Matthäus Merian the Elder.
This view of Bregenz and Bodensee dates from the late 18th or early 19th century. It is a watercolour by artist Karl Ludwig Friedrich Viehbeck and is in the collections of the Albertina Museum in Vienna.