Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling to feature in national exhibition celebrating the best of British life

A London art exhibition which showcases 100 joys of being British will feature Cooper's Hill cheese rolling extravaganza for its mix of excitement, bravery and determination.

By Emma Luther  |  Published

It's a wacky event from the 1800s that still attracts spectators from around the world. Now, the Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling has been immortalised in an art exhibition celebrating the joys of being British.

Painted during lockdown by Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Francis Salvesen, the oil painting shows a crowd gathered at the top of the iconic Gloucestershire hill, just outside of Gloucester, as runners launch themselves after a wheel of Double Gloucester cheese.

Salvesen, who has never seen the event in person, was captivated by its energy and wanted to capture a sense of freedom and camaraderie during the restricted days of the pandemic.

He said: 'Cheese rolling at Cooper's Hill is one of the UK's oldest traditions, mixing excitement, bravery, determination and the British competitive spirit. The tradition dates back centuries — there are records showing it may date back as far as the 8th century. It therefore seemed perfectly fitting to include this much-loved and somewhat wacky tradition in an exhibition all about what makes Britain unique and joyous.'

Since crafting the oil painting, he's decided to go and see the spectacle for the first time this summer – with this year's iconic cheese roll scheduled for Monday 29 May 2023.

Art fans will be able to see the Cheese Rolling painting, alongside 99 other pieces exploring national pride, wildlife, countryside and British identity at Mall Galleries in London from 10am to 5pm, Monday 13 to Saturday 18 March 2023. 

Other works on display include paintings of an NHS nurse as well as British traditions, such as playing conkers and wassailing, native wildlife and a portrait of the Princess of Wales.

The Joys of Being British exhibition is free to attend and Salversen's Cheese Rolling at Cooper's Hill oil painting is on sale for £750.

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