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Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Curator's lunchtime talk on July 8th 12.30-1.30pm

It's been a while since there have been lunchtime talks, so this one was eagerly awaited, would there be a crowd in to listen to Sophie Cummings talk about the current exhibition of portraits - About Face? I thought it would be a popular time of day, there were others who thought not, in fact more than 40 people attended the talk, and seemed very happy with the talk and the timing.
Outside Apsley House, there was a sign encouraging people in:
And here's the audience with Helen Miah introducing Sophie Cummings:
 Who's there on the right of the photo at the front:
 And another shot of the audience, and doesn't the gallery look superb with that colour on the walls?
Sophie talked about the history of the art collection which now amounts to about 470 works, mentioning the importance of Lord Methuen who encouraged Swindon to have an art gallery followed by Jimmy Bomford who lent and then donated 21 art works initially and then more later after being given a bottle of champagne by Denys Hodson. Aided by Richard Morphet, Denys was able to add to the collection so we had an 'open ended network of connections'.
Sophie then moved on to considering the history of portraiture, before photography, it was an important way of depicting a person, although only available to a few because of the cost of it. With the advent of photography, portraiture continued to be popular because it captures the essence of a person suggested Sophie.
She then went on to explain why pictures had been selected to hang together in what is a superb exhibition. The talk concluded with 3 pictures being selected for a special mention, I think these may be Sophie's favourites at the moment, and I agree with her choice:
1. Michael Ayrton's 'Caged Birds'
Followed by John Bellany's 'Self Portrait with Juliet' which is fabulous:
And also a Henry Moore which I wouldn't have looked at so closely if it hadn't been pointed out:
 It's 'Seated Figure' 1927 in crayon, ink and green wash on paper, and it was donated by HJP Bomford in 1946.
Finally a few people asked questions, and then we milled about and talked to each other:
Sophie gave a very interesting talk from a personal perspective which did what I think such talks are intended to do, made the exhibition more accessible.
With 3 changes of exhibition per annum, we may have more of these talks, it's certainly worth looking out for them and coming along.


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