Audio guide

Here you can listen online or download an audio guide that might be of assistance to visually impaired visitors. It could help when planning a visit to the exhibition, for navigating through the gallery and for more information about the content in each section. This guide is also available at the exhibition itself.

Audio player here


Transcript of this audio guide

Welcome to the Walker Art Gallery and this new temporary exhibition; Cecil Beaton: Portraits, a stunning exhibition of 50 portraits by Cecil Beaton, one of the most famous photographers of the 20th century.

You are listening to an audio description for this exhibition that may be of assistance to visitors with visual impairment. This message lasts around three minutes.

  • Gallery layout

Firstly, let me tell you about the gallery layout. You are in the first gallery that is around 20 metres, or 60 feet, long by 10 metres, or 30 feet wide the ceiling stretches up at around 15 metres or 45 feet above you.

Wood-strip flooring runs throughout the gallery and there are no major changes in floor height, or steps. The exhibition continues in the adjoining larger gallery that is connected by the large doors immediately to your left.

So that’s the domestics taken care of, now let me tell you a little more about Cecil Beaton.

  • The exhibition

Beaton was born in 1904 and was himself a charismatic character who could charm and cajole, amuse and flirt, electrify and calm. He was known for his elegant sartorial style which exactly matched and reflected the circles he moved in.

His long career covered an era of great change from the Roaring Twenties to the dawn of the New Romantics. Beaton’s career as a photographer began with his earliest portraits of his sister
Baba taken in 1922, when he was a teenager.

From 1925, his photographs were published in society agazines such as The Sketch and Tatler. In 1927, 23-year-old Beaton secured a contract with Vogue to provide portraits, caricatures and social commentary.

In the 1930s he published books packed with glamorous portraits and artwork and photographed the wedding of the Prince of Wales to Wallis Simpson.

Beaton reached the height of his powers in the 1950s and 60s when he became a household name. As well as creating great portraits of a new generation of film actresses such as Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe, he won Oscars for his design work in the blockbuster films 'Gigi' and 'My Fair Lady'.

Knighted in 1972, Beaton had a stroke in 1974 but returned to photography three years later. Among his subjects in his final years were fashion designers and international celebrities.

Cecil Beaton: Portraits is organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London.

We hope that you have found this audio description useful, please do enjoy the rest of your visit here at the Walker Art Gallery.