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 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

Thursday, 12 June 2014

About Face - the Private View of the new exhibition

The new exhibition, About Face opened to the public on Wednesday June 11th, but a lucky few were invited to a very special private view and a canape and champagne reception on Tuesday evening from 6-8pm by Robert Hiscox. It was a delightful evening, and photographs below reflect the evening rather than the art, the exhibition is there waiting for you to see.
I arrived while Robert Hiscox was talking enthusiastically about the new museum and art gallery soon to be built in the town centre, then Sophie Cummings, curator of the exhibition talked about some of the pictures and their juxtapositioning:



After Sophie's talk, the champagne flowed and canapes were handed round giving the four Friends committee members present time to circulate a little and encourage those present to show their support for the museum and art gallery by joining the Friends.
A lovely ambience was created by the delightful guitar playing by James Daubney, and further interest by those having their photos taken with Bardwell and Baskervilles lovelies:
 Above, I think is Baskerville without the costume, and below Sue Bardwell with the models
 And below here, Robert Hiscox looking very happy:
Other people who were reasonably happy to be photographed were Cllr David Renard and Jeremy Holt:
I will include a photo of the tremendously energetic duo Helen and Nicki who among other things encourage and support the Friends wonderfully:
I hope you enjoy the exhibition which will be featured properly in the blog soon.
Coming up:
An event by Mike Yates about Ralph Bates on the 20th June at 7.30pm
A talk by Sophie Cummings on July 8th 12.30-1.30pm



Thursday, 5 June 2014

The Postbox Past and Future

This was a talk given by John Fell on 30th May, I took some notes, so I'll give a condensed version of my notes. John has 77 postboxes and is passionate about them. He was originally a welder, but then as his interest in the postboxes grew as he began collecting and renovating them, and worked for Royal Mail.
Penfold designed the original post box in 1852, the first one being in the Channel Isles. When the railways were introduced, people travelled more, were more affluent and educated and began writing to each other. The first postboxes were green, changed later to red. There were free standing pillar boxes,a nd wall boxes which were much cheaper to produce. John showed us photographs of lamp boxes which were attached to gas lamps.
The only locks ever used in post boxes are Chubb ones, their trademark is a fish.
WT Allen also produced a lot of postboxes. Royal Mail have sold quite a few of their postboxes as they failed to operate properly in some way, maybe the locks stopped working, or the doors leaked. If bought, they have to be hung away from the thoroughfare and painted black or green to show they are not in use.
The British Postal Museum and Archive is on the Debden Industrial Estate in Loughton, Essex, their premises are too small, and they did consider relocating to Swindon 5 years ago. There is a very good postal museum in Bath, and some of the best postboxes are to be found in Cheltenham. There is also a very old postbox in Dunster.
John brought along 4 postboxes:

 Two George V boxes
 and below one John is renovating, but not yet painted
 Below is a Elizabeth II one
 This is a page from a magazine called 'Letterbox Study Group'
And lastly, a photo of John talking to the group with the boxes at the front, and the Action! exhibition still on the walls:
Lastly, there have been postbox forgeries made in China, they are very easy to spot because they are riveted together and got the making all wrong.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Rediscovery of Ralph Bates on the 20th June 7.30pm at the Museum


Ralph Bates Presentation and Exhibition of his Books and Short Stories.


In the late 1930's Time Magazine said that the Swindon-born writer Ralph Bates was "a better writer than Ernest Hemingway". Today he is hardly remembered in his home-town. Ralph spent the first thirty years of his life in Swindon (he worked in the Great Western Railway factory) before moving to Spain, where he fought in the Spanish Civil War. Later, he settled in America where he became a Professor of English Literature at New York University. Many of Ralph's novels and short stories, such as The Olive Field, are set in Spain. Another books contains stories written during a stay in Mexico. His final book, The Dolphin in the Wood, is a semi-autobiographical account of his early life in North Wiltshire. Ralph Bates died in New York in 2000, aged 101.

On Friday 20th June, at 7.30pm, Mike Yates, together with members of the Phoenix Players, will give a presentation on the life, works and times of Ralph Bates at Swindon Museum & Art Gallery. The presentation will include recordings of music that was known to Ralph Bates.
Swindon Museum & Art Gallery will be showing a selection of Ralph Bates's books and stories during the month of June.