Green and unpleasant land: UK countryside takes sinister twist in new exhibition

Warwickshire gallery explores how artistic, social and political forces have shaped Britain’s relationship with rural landscape

Images of a green and pleasant land with a sinister undertone – where lambs gambol but a corpse might lie under a nearby hedge – feature in an exhibition examining Britain’s relationship with the countryside.

The show at Compton Verney gallery in Warwickshire sets the scene with a small 1645 sketch by Claude Lorrain of a beautiful vista, charming ruin, mannerly animals and a picturesque peasant boy. It shows how centuries later the vision still seeps into everyday life, from pictures on beer bottle labels to air fresheners.

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