Become a Friend of the Swindon Museumand Art Gallery

For only £10 a year, you can become a Friend and come along to our talks, join us on trips out to places like Kelmscott House and Rodmarton Manor. To become a Friend simply fill in a form, click on the 'Membership Form' on the right hand side, or visit the gallery and pick up a form.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Free Lunchtime Talk Friday 14 October #FWIS

Sophie Cummings, Curator at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery gave her first lunchtime talk on the exhibition 'From Where I'm Standing' which showcases the work of 10 West Country ceramicists influenced by works in the Swindon Collection. Lots of people came along to hear the talk
 Sophie started with 4 pieces by Peter Hayes inspired by the Highworth Pot, and moved in an anticlockwise direction
 A close up of Peter Hayes' pieces:
Coming next to 3 pieces by Sarah Purvey who was captivated by the Basil Beattie painting, 'Witness'
 the inside of the pots is also beautiful:
Here's Sophie beside Patricia Volk's 3 pieces, inspired by Howard Hodgkin's 'Gramophone' and John Nash's 'Buoys'
 and onto Fenella Elms' piece inspired by Peter Simpson's 'Fungal Form'
 and a close up of the two together:
I didn't photograph Sophie beside everything, so went back to photograph things I'd missed, here are Claire Loder's eyes in a fab face inspired by Richard Jefferies

 And next Sasha Wardell's tea set inspired by Julian Trevelyan's painting 'The Potteries' and colours inspired by Mary Fedden's 'Spanish Chair' with Wesley West's train tea set as her third inspiration
Jo Taylor's pieces were produced in response to Nicholas Horsfield's 'Evening Downstream towards Vernon'
 Joanna Still has produced 5 pots by a smoke firing process, 4 of which are on display in the gallery, in response to Graham Sutherland's Dark Hill: Landscape with hedges and Fields'
 Mary-Jane Evans has created 4 pieces in response to Charles Howard's 'Painting 1'
 here's Painting 1
 and the tenth pieces in response to Tom Phillips 'Play:Here we Exemplify' are by Keith Varney
 Tomorrow evening Alun Graves, senior Curator of Ceramics at the V&A Museum will be in conversation with Sarah Purvey, Jo Taylor and Claire Loder, and will form the content of the next blog piece.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Friends' Fundraising Activities

Last week was a very busy week, we visited Marlborough College chapel on Tuesday, and held the second of our fundraising events, a wine tasting at Magnum Wines in Wood Street on Thursday evening, to restore these 2 paintings:
 Above 'Landscape' by George Downs, and below 'Night Sky' by Jack Smith
The first fundraising event was a Q&A session held on 27 August with Hadrian Ellory van-Dekker, Director and Chief Executive of the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust, chaired by Erik Burnett-Godfree, when we raised £421.
We had a great evening wine tasting at Magnum Wines, and were fortunate enough to have raffle prizes donated by The Marriott Hotel, Deacon's Jewellers, Wilson's butcher, The Core and Brian at Magnum donated 2 bottles of wine. We raised £152 from the raffle and £275 from the wine tasting.
Making a grand total of £848 from both events.
Here are a few photos of us at the wine tasting:
 This first one above shows the very knowledgeable Brian talking us through one of the wines

What a great evening

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

St Michael and All Angels, Marlborough College

The Friends seem to pick some of the best weather for our trips remember Roche Court and Chichester and thankfully yesterday was no exception. Due to the success of previous visits to the college this was our second visit to the chapel and this time we were very fortunate to have as our guide Niall Hamilton, now head of admissions at the school but a classicist, artist and art historian who is much missed as a teacher. Niall's knowledge is not only extensive but infectious, when you listen to him you are not only introduced to new things but always left wanting to know more.

Niall was very pleased to see such a good turnout and said how much he enjoyed himself away from the computer. He started with a short history of chapels in English public schools and how they were once seen to be a threat to local parishes. Luckily Marlborough College had a series of enlightened and ambitious masters who not only commissioned the chapel but other significant architecture around the school.

Dr Niall Hamilton

Notable in the chapel are the Victorian reredos not painted and gilded until the 1950s by Sir Ninian Comper and the new organ.


Reredos and organ

Many people were keen to hear about the murals by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, the largest collection of ecclesiastical pre Raphaelite painting. Both the chapel and the paintings were much loved by John Betjeman. In 'Summoned by Bells' he praises the greens and browns of architect Bodley. The paintings though are a colourful contrast showing new and old testament scenes. Niall praised the homage made by Spencer Stanhope to Mantegna and Rossetti and the comical titles which have been given by students over the years.

Painting top right titled 'There's a beard in my soup' by students

Looking up at the gargoyles with prehistoric Marlborough Mound behind

Outside we were able to look more closely at the architecture and then at the Eric Gill sculpture above the west door. After a few questions Niall went back to work and we took a walk through the grounds to the Mount House Gallery for the exhibition 'Resident Tourist' by Timothy Betjeman.

Timothy grew up in New York but finished studying art in London and has recently been artist in residence at Giverney, France (Monet's house and garden). He now has a studio and house at the school and after this introductory exhibition will be showing his new work next year. 

Tim's work is well worth seeing and the exhibition runs at the Mount House Gallery until Wednesday 12 October, open Wednesday - Friday 14.00 - 17.00, Saturday 09.00 - 13.00 and Sunday 14.00 - 17.00 or if not open call in the art school next door for admission.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

News from Nowhere

Performance ; Jeffrey Dennis

A painting by Jeffery Dennis in a New York gallery was seen and bought by Charles Saatchi in the mid 1980s. It is a blast of yellow hues and confusion showing patterned wallpaper, a plug socket and small 'borrower' like people enacting a strange ritual at the base. In 2000 the painting came to Swindon Museum and Art Gallery and has been regularly on display causing curiosity and admiration from many. On Thursday Jeffery gave a talk to Friends and the title of the painting became clear. The small pictorial insets refer to scenes in his studio while the man in a headstand is a younger Jeffrey Dennis showing off saying 'look what I can do' while his partner looks on in bewilderment. The artist acts up and demands attention by a 'Performance' which is the title of the painting. Jeffrey is concerned with the small aspects of life and living and how it can appear to make little impact on the world while appearing absurd to an onlooker. 

William Morris design

These early paintings use William Morris wallpaper and textiles as a starting point and while not disguised the patterns are not immediately clear as Morris designs and are more reminiscent of the hazy images that occur when staring vacantly into space. Now William Morris is being acknowledged by many contemporary artists but it was Jeffrey Dennis who saw his importance way back in the early 1980s. The Morris novel 'News from Nowhere' provides the perfect title for a later Jeffrey Dennis work. 

News from Nowhere ; Jeffrey Dennis

'News From Nowhere' shows the introduction of the pipe or post like shape that appears regularly and is used as a interlocking device showing how all things appear connected. 
In his photographic archive, which is used as a visual reference for the paintings, we see Jeffrey posing on a plinth or ladder in the studio, urban scenes of roadworks and shop signs or of himself painting in the studio or doing household chores. The artist is aware of the futility of his action on the world where everything we do is merely a performance. 

Exposed pipes during roadworks from Jeffrey Dennis photo archive

It was while washing up that Jeffrey saw the potential of using the shapes created in the sink to create another device he calls 'bubblescape' for joining shapes and content within a painting.

Bubblescape paintings ; Jeffrey Dennis

On leaving the Art Gallery Jeffrey looked up to the ceiling and was amused by the bubblescape on the ceiling, take a look next time you are in the gallery. Another great talk and many thanks to Jeffrey for a very entertaining evening.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

From Where I'm Standing

Friends committee members were fortunate enough to be invited to another wonderful private view evening. Thanks to the hard work and inspiration of curator Sophie Cummings this show brought together ten accomplished and renowned ceramicists who live and work in the locality. Each artist chose a work from the collection which had either influenced them in the past or was completely new to them. For those who know the collection well it was an opportunity to see some of our favourite artworks anew and whatever our response this startling exhibition reignites that love in an intimate and personal way. Although Friends never need an excuse to visit the gallery this show is really worth seeing along with 'Still Life' another new exhibition showing works from the collection in the south of the gallery.

Nicky Alberry and Sophie Cummings open the new ceramics show 'From Where I'm Standing'.

Mark Golder and Brian Thompson alongside Sarah Purvey's work and Basil Beattie painting

Graham Sutherland pictures behind 4 four Joanna Still pieces

Three ceramicists

Face to face with Claire Loder's video inspired 
by Richard Jefferies and her Grandfather poet

Jo Taylor took this oval shape from the 
Nicholas Horsfield painting
 'Evening downstream towards 'Vernon'

These exquisite Keith Varney vessels echoed 
the letter stencil painting of Tom Phillips

Peter Hayes worked from the Highworth Pot 
which is in the archaeology section

Fenella Elms response to the Peter Simpson piece 
she remembered from her time at Swindon College

Appreciating art No. 1

Appreciating art No. 2

Sasha Wardell trained in Stoke on Trent and she looked at the 
Julian Trevelyan painting 'The Potteries'

Exuberant Patricia Volk and the Howard Hodgkin painting she worked from

Painting 1 by Charles Howard and pieces by Mary-Jane Evans