Dealing with Dreams
The Garman Ryan Collection 40th Anniversary

“I feel we are dealing with dreams and are about to house them in a solid Midlands setting for prosperity. How delightful.”

Lady Kathleen Epstein (Excerpt from a letter written by Lady Kathleen Epstein to Walsall Council, 3 December 1937. Beth Lipkin Archive, The New Art Gallery Walsall)


When Lady Kathleen Epstein gave the extraordinary gift of The Garman Ryan Collection to Walsall, it took over three years of negotiation and complex installation to enable it to open on 9th July 1974 in the old Carnegie gallery and library, Lichfield St, Walsall. The gift contained an amazing range of artworks, including work by Van Gogh, Monet, Freud, Epstein, Constable, Durer, Turner and others by unknown artists from many different periods and cultures around the world. Displayed for 40 years in Walsall, the collection has provided generations of people, locally, nationally and internationally, with many wonderful opportunities to engage with art of the highest quality. Kathleen would have been proud of the educational opportunities which her collection has provided for people over the years.


This exhibition tells some of the stories of the Garman Ryan Collection from its conception to the present day, with previously unseen archive material and artworks.


Why was Walsall chosen for this fabulous gift and why didn’t Lady Kathleen Epstein give it to Wednesbury where her childhood home was?

Which artwork did Jackie Epstein remember using as a fruit bowl when he was a child?

Which artwork did Theodore Garman sit on while he painted?

Why was the gift of the Garman Ryan Collection so important for the building of The New Art Galley Walsall?

Why do we have so many works by Lucian Freud in the collection?

What happened to the missing painting by Samuel Palmer?

Why did we only receive one of the two Van Gogh’s  that Kathleen owned?


Without the Garman Ryan Collection we would not have The New Art Gallery Walsall. So please come and join us for this celebration and tribute to Lady Kathleen Epstein who made this world class art gallery possible for everyone to enjoy.


“The Garman Ryan Collection acts as a spring board for complementary displays, acquisitions and educational programmes and is the foundation of all that we do at The New Art Gallery Walsall”   Stephen Snoddy, Director of The New Art Gallery Walsall, 2014

Introductory Talks to the Garman Ryan Collection


Saturday Tours. 1pm

A short informal introduction to the Garman Ryan Collection, led by Julie Jones or Rob Conway (alternating weekly, from the gallery’s Front of House team.

Free – all welcome, just drop in.


The Great Walsall Festival of Good Things

Saturday 4 October, 10-5pm



In 1967 Kathleen lent her fabulous art collection to a small village in Essex for a festival entitled ‘The Great Burstead Festival of Good Things‘. The collection went on display in the local vicarage accompanied by events such as folk singing, Morris dancing, hog roast, pony rides, opera, flower displays, a Bertold Brecht play and a Gilbert and Sullivan performance.


The New Art Gallery Walsall is celebrating The Garman Ryan Collection’s 40th Anniversary with its own Walsall version of this event.


Expect: Music, food, children’s arts activities, theatre and stalls of arts and crafts. Something for all the family.




Adopt a Garman Ryan Collection Artwork

Why not join our new ‘Friends’ Membership Scheme and be the first to adopt a Garman Ryan artwork in honour of the 40th Anniversary of the collection? Pick up a leaflet at our reception desk or contact Chris Wilkinson, Marketing Officer on 01922 654416 for further details.

Sponsored by:





Image credit:  Lady Kathleen Epstein with some of her art collection C. 1972.