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For only £10 a year, you can become a Friend and come along to our talks, join us on trips out to places like The Royal Academy and Pallant House Gallery, there's always something going on. To become a Friend or find out more about us, go to the website www.friendsofsmag.org

Friday, 13 January 2017

Lunchtime Talk Friday 13th January

Today Sophie Cummings gave a talk at lunchtime on the 'From Where I'm Standing' exhibition, in which 10 ceramicists were asked to respond to a couple of works from the collections. They have produced a huge variety of different ceramics. Here, below,Sophie is talking about Fenella Elm's response to the small piece which has influenced so much of her work, I've looked at her piece which I love, many times, but it wasn't until today I saw something completely different in it.
There were quite a few people who came along to to find out more about the exhibition, and more came during the talk.
 Jo Taylor took over from Sophie to talk about her work, here she is, below, talking about Nicholas Horsfield's painting 'Oval 1979 Evening, Downstream Towards Vernon' which she responded to in coloured porcelain. Jo talked about how she first came across the painting in the storeroom at very close quarters and was immediately impressed by the feel of the painting, the colours, splashes of apricot and lilac colours which she reproduced using coloured stains on the porcelain.
And here are 2 of Jo's pieces below, she has called them 'Riffing on Horsfield', there are 2 more elsewhere, another 'messier' one she has at home in her dining room, and there's another larger one. They are amazingly beautiful in texture and colour, they enhance the painting, and the painting enhances them in a lovely way.
Before leaving the gallery, I noticed the Fenella Elm's piece produced the most amazing shadows, somehow I'd missed the shadows previously.
Next week, Sophie is giving the last of her #FWIS talks accompanied by Keith Varney


Private View at Osborne Samuel 11 January

During January 2017, the Osborne Samuel Gallery has offered Swindon Museum and Art Gallery,  space for a month at 23a, Bruton St, London W1J 6QG to give the collection some much merited publicity. Many of the 'home team' were invited along to see the results of hanging approximately 30 selected works in the gallery, along with some choice ceramic pieces. It was a lovely evening, the hang was beautifully done and looked fabulous in the gallery.
I'm pleased I managed to capture the online catalogue, so you can see exactly what's being shown in the Osborne Samuel Gallery, there are some gems which you'll see as the backdrop to the photos by clicking here: online catalogue
I'll start with the speeches, Robert Hiscox was speaking as I took the photograph, he'd taken over from Councillor David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, they explained the history of the collection, the need to move from the current inadequate premises, and their hopes for the future when the museum and art gallery will be housed in a new purpose built cultural centre in the heart of the town. The evening was opened by Gordon Samuel, one half of the Osborne Samuel partnership, he's to the right of David Renard in the photo.
 A general photo by the drinks table with Michael Ayrton's painting in the background
 You can just about see the John Nash, 'Dredgers at Bristol Docks' behind the drinks table
 Hadrian Ellory van Dekker talking with John Hoyland's 'Trickster' in the background
 and here it is again
 There were some lovely ceramics pieces hung at eye level and so were very easy to examine.
 Above we've got Grayson Perry's Perfume bottle and 3 stoppers, and on the far right Hans Coper's Spade Vase, and Lucie Rei's Bottle Vase to the left of that.
 Beside that case was another with among other things, Geoffrey Swindell's Oval Forms purchased in the late 1970s.
 The gallery was packed making it hard to take photos, these below were taken as the rooms emptied a bit. Below you can see Councillor Garry Perkins, Cabinet Member for the Economy, Regeneration and Skills at SBC, he's near the model for the proposed new museum and art gallery, on display in the centre of the middle room in the gallery.
 Below a general view of people, Nicky Alberry can clearly be seen on the left.
 Below Gordon Samuel with Terry Frost's 'Grey, Red and Black Verticals' in the background


 You can see how lovely these favourites look in the gallery
 And how fitting in the week before the unveiling of the Diana Dors Blue Plaque
that Desmond Morris's painting in the collection from 1946 'Girl Selling Flowers (Diana Dors)
 Gillian Ayres' painting 'Florestan' zinged with energy and colour, it looked great illuminated perfectly, with a wall to itself.
 Do go and have a look at the exhibition if you can, it's there until 11 February and the gallery is open Monday-Friday 10am-6pm, Saturdays 10am-2pm.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Talks and Trips for 2017

I have just added our talks and trips for the first half of 2017 to the blog, and I'm hoping our website will be updates later on today to reflect this programme. We are still in the process of learning how to use the website, so it's not all running totally smoothly at the moment. The intention is to be able to buy tickets for talks and trips online so you can do this at your convenience.
All members of the Friends will receive an eflyer this morning, hard copies are available at the museum, but the cost of postage makes it too expensive to post them.
We are very excited to have Christopher le Brun as our first speaker, seen in the poster below standing in front of his painting 'Hyperion' purchased by SM&AG 35 years ago. Painter, printer and sculptor, he was born in Portsmouth and trained at the Slade and Chelsea Schools of Art in London, Le Brun first appeared in several group exhibitions, such as the influential Zeitgeist exhibition at the Martin-Gropius Bau, Berlin, and from 1980 onwards, in many solo exhibitions in Britain, Europe and America. He was a prizewinner at the John Moores Liverpool exhibitions in 1978 and 1980 and worked in Berlin during 1987-88 as guest of the DAAD artist’s programme.
 He was elected President of the Royal Academy in December 2011. He is the 26th President since Sir Joshua Reynolds and the youngest to be elected since Lord Leighton in 1878.

 Apologies that the flyers are fairly illegible, the synopsis of the talks and trips appears on the talks and trips page of this blog.

I thought it was worth flagging up what's happening this year.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Unveiling the Model of the new Museum and Art Gallery

This event was held for the press to take photographs and publicise them widely so everyone knows what the plans for the building look like, and make comments. I was present as chair of the Friends, it felt like history was being made, as in fact I hope it is with this iconic new building in the centre of the town.
The morning started with members of the Trust formed to manage the bid, along with Councillor David Renard present for photographs
 I'm going to start with models of the building in case Facebook takes the first photo as an illustration of what's in the post. Below there's a close up with the Gharial mounted on the far wall!
 The rest of the photos are of groups of people being photographed:
 Below Cllr David Renard talking to Nicky Alberry, and in the background, Brian Mattock chatting with Joel Joffe.
 Below, I rather liked this shot of Robert Hiscox, Chair of the Trust, and Hadrian Ellory van-Dekker, Director of the Trust standing smiling.
 Another one
 Here are Roger Ogle and Richard Wintle looking at the model. I'll be interested to see Richard's photographs, he's already Tweeted quite a lot.
 Below a photo of members of the Trust together
 Graham Carter has already published his piece on this morning in the online version of Swindon Heritage magazine: http://www.swindonheritage.com/
Another here: http://www.swindonnews.org.uk/vision-for-a-landmark-museum-and-art-gallery-for-swindon-revealed/
and Swindon Link magazine: https://swindonlink.com/plans-for-swindons-new-22m-museum-and-art-gallery-unveiled/
What an exciting day for Swindon.





Friends' Christmas Social

There was a change to our advertised programme of talks and trips in December because Steven Pippin was unable to come on the the arranged date, Thursday 8 December, we have therefore postponed his visit until some time next year, and we decided to hold a social event instead. To cover the cost of drinks, we appealed for prizes and held a raffle which raised £219 to cover the cost of drinks, and also raise more money for the restoration of 'Landscape' by George Downs, having already raised enough money to restore Jack Smith's 'Night Sky'.
 I took a few photos of groups of people

 and a few more

 we had a lovely time
 There were updates from Sophie Cummings on the recent acquisitions which included the pot in the back of the group of 3 by Sarah Purvey, the Friends were thrilled to be able to purchase this pot entitled 'Witnessed' just last week.
 Below 'Elms at Fresden, near Highworth' painted in 1971 by David Rolt is another new acquisition.
 More on new acquisitions here: http://swindonmuseumandartgallery.org.uk/recent-acquisitions/
 Sophie also talked about some pieces in the collection going to the Osborne Samuel Gallery from 12 January- 11Febuary, maybe30 pieces. Other pieces are being loaned to the Bishop Otter in Chichester for their exhibition whose details I can't find just now. And last but by no means least, Nicki Western unveiled a model of the proposed new iconic Museum and art gallery building. There was an embargo on taking photographs until today 13.12.16 at noon, everyone respected this, and Nicki whisked the model away after 10 minutes.
Thank you to all who attended this brilliant evening.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Our AGM held 24.11.16

There's always a concern about the AGM, it must reflect what the Friends have been doing over the last year, including the financial situation from April to April which is slightly confusing since everything else is about what we've been doing since the last AGM.
We had 36 people at last year's event, and this year more were expected to attend because the membership has increased and Hadrian Ellory-van Dekker had said he would unveil the plans for the new museum and art gallery during his speech. Given the restrictions on the gallery at the museum, we took the unprecedented step of hiring the Dance Studio at Swindon Dance in the Town Hall building in Regent Circus. It was perfect and seated the 61 people who attended very comfortably.
Above the auditorium is filling up nicely.
This year we had a slide show with several different members of the committee coming and talking about the year in general, past talks and trips and what we're looking forward to this year. Martin Newman talked about the survey results, followed by Sophie Cummings talking about her year, and then as mentioned already, Hadrian unveiled the plans. They will be on display to the public from December 8 so it was fabulous to have a preview, everyone there was asked to keep them a secret.
I didn't photograph everyone because it seemed a bit intrusive, but here's Ray Ward
and Hadrian
The presentations will be published as soon as I get them on here, although you'll have to wait until after December 8 for Hadrian's.
The very successful AGM was followed by the amazing Paul Murdin, photos to follow on the next blog soon.


Lunchtime Talk on the Still Life Exhibition

Sophie Cummings gave a talk on the Still Life exhibition, currently being shown in the small part of the gallery as you go in on the right, on Friday 11 November at 12.30pm. There was a good crowd to hear Sophie talking about some of the paintings in the exhibition, I do like this one, Sophie is talking about the fabulous Edward Wadsworth painting and pointing out various aspects of the painting which made me see it differently.
 And here's Sophie with the Ivon Hitchen's paintings 'Spring in Eden' and 'The Chinese Bowl'

 And onto Lisa Milroy's 'Small Objects' with Walter Poole's 'Still Life' in the background.
 And finally in the Still Life exhibition, talking about Desmond Morris's 'The Mysterious Gift'.
 And really I can't do better than quote what was said on the website:
'A still life is a work of art depicting an arrangement of inanimate objects, such as fruit, drinking glasses or bolts of fabric. Although it is one of art’s more traditional subjects, modern artists still find innovative and engaging ways to depict objects.

This small exhibition celebrates still life paintings from the Swindon Collection of Modern British Art.  Designed to complement ‘From Where I’m Standing’, it shows how artists depict three dimensional objects in paint, pencil and ink.  The exhibition includes important paintings by major British artists including Edward Wadsworth, Ivon Hitchens and Stephen McKenna.  The exhibition also includes work by artists with a Swindon connection, including Walter Poole, Desmond Morris and Peter Ferguson'.
Sophie then spent some time walking round the 'From Where I'm Standing Exhibition'.
The next lunchtime talk will be held on Friday 9 December and looks at the current exhibitions, as usual it starts at 12.30pm and lasts until about 1pm.