‘Serving Across Borders: International Tennis Art’ – celebrating 150 years of Lawn Tennis is the title of an illustrated talk by Professor Ann Sumner which will take place at Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club, with displays of toys relating to racket sports from Ilkley Toy Museum, on Tuesday, June 18 at 7pm.

Art historian and Ilkley resident, Ann Sumner who is Vice Chair of the Leeds Art Fund, will give this talk during the Lexus Ilkley Trophy Tournament. She will consider the inspiration the game of lawn tennis, played by both men and women, has given artists in England, Europe, across north and south America and in Australia.

In 1874 the first boxed set of the game of lawn tennis was patented by Major Walter Wingfield, marking 150 years of the graceful game in 2024. The popular box sets sold across the UK and swiftly overseas. This talk describes how the game spread in popularity around the world, celebrating the rich history of the art tennis has inspired.

Ilkley Gazette: Wimbledon card gameWimbledon card game (Image: Ilkley Toy Museum)

Her lecture will look at how artists captured the graceful movement of players on court, and the contexts in which the game was played, as artists became increasingly imaginative and innovative. She will discuss familiar paintings by John Lavery, Eric Ravilious and Christopher Wood through to the work of Hurvin Anderson and David Hockney.

Tickets for the talk and reception, which is organised by Leeds Art Fund, will include a glass of wine with strawberries and cream and the chance to view displays from the collections of the Ilkley Toy Museum on a rackets theme.

The speaker is an authority on tennis art, having curated the successful ground-breaking exhibition 'Court on Canvas: Tennis in Art' in 2011 at the Barber Institute of Fine Art in Birmingham, where she was Director. Since then Ann has continued her research, contributing a chapter to the Routledge 'International Handbook of Tennis' in 2019 and delivering a paper to the 2020 Tennis Heritage Conference at the All England Club. She is passionate about tennis and has been Vice Chair of Leeds Art Fund since 2021. She is Chair of the Methodist Modern Art Collection and is a member at Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club. Leeds Art Fund, founded in 1912, is delighted that this event is generously supported by Hartleys Auctioneers, Ilkley, and the Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club.

Details of how to purchase tickets can be found on Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/serving-across-borders-international-tennis-art-tickets-799768859187