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

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Entertaining Swindon- opening night

Last night, this exhibition celebrating entertainers between 1955-85 opened in the first two rooms either side of the front door as one enters the museum. Kate Parsons, exhibition researcher, curator and designer, has spent the last few months putting together this very moving collection of memories, and if last nights preview was anything to go by, it's going to be enjoyed by lots and lots of people who remember those times, and will surprise many of those who weren't around at the time.
Those featured in the exhibition, or connected in some way to it, or Friends' committee, were invited to the opening night:
What a lovely event it was, I took a few photos
 The room on the right as you go into the building was busier than the other one because that's where the cakes were, even so it was quite hard to take photos without alarming people, it was easier to photograph Ian Doeser and friend from behind!
 In the room on the left, there are some fabulous dresses, maybe I can use this photo as a background to the Facebook page, or does it need to be landscape?

 Below Sophie Cummings, Curator of the art gallery and Ray Ward chatting
 Robert Stredder of Theatre des Bicyclettes writing on the chalk board, it's encouraged!
 Behind the changing cubicle I found a whole story board dedicated to les Bicyclettes. Wonderful that this duo, and sometimes trio are featured here
 I've included this quote which might be hard to read from Terry Johnson which I love and agree with: 'Swindon is like a village- the people of that Groundwell Farm era, are still performing'
 Here's a classic photo of les Bicyclettes, love this one.
 Here's Kate Parsons talking to Robert Stredder about something
The exhibition is open from Weds-Sat 11am-3pm until November 7th, do go and have a look, it reminds us how special Swindon is in so many ways.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Ravilious at the Dulwich Picture Gallery

After our talk on Eric Ravilious by James Russell, curator of the exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, and the wide acclaim the exhibition has received, lots of us were really looking forward to seeing the exhibition for ourselves. In fact, there were 39 of us booked to go on the trip, and could have been more if I'd known that a 52 seater coach was coming in place of the 41 seater we booked.
Suffice to say, there were a lot of Friends on the coach all looking forward to a great day at the DPG, I was really pleased with the magnificent turn out. The rail strike on the day meant that the journey took much longer than anticipated, but had the benefit of enabling people to get to know each other better.
When we arrived, we looked round the Ravilious exhibition, among masses of other people, it's a very popular exhibition beautifully laid out in rooms.
The Westbury White horse painting is used on the poster on the way in, seen better below inside:
and on the book to accompany the exhibition, which I'm really pleased I bought as a momento and because it gives a fascinating and sensitive insight into the artist and the paintings he produced.
 This is the entrance hall:
Photography was not allowed in the exhibition, so to give an idea of the atmosphere, I took a few snaps. The exhibition is beautifully arranged in several sections, as you can see below, Interiors is one of the sections, and with it
 was this gorgeous painting 'Geraniums and carnations'
and  'The Greenhouse, cyclamen and tomatoes' with its 'diminishing progression of triangles and rectangles'.
 This painting titled 'Cuckmere Haven' in the Changing Perspectives section.
 I'm not sure which painting Vanetta, Gillian and Ray are looking at, but I liked the discussion that was going on between Friends in the exhibition.
 'Tea at Furlongs', one of my favourite paintings was in the Place and Season section
 Other sections were Relics and Curiosities, Figures and Forms, and Darkness and Light.
At 2pm, we were met by Mary Poole-Wilson who talked to us about the Dulwich Picture Gallery building and its collections. We were first led to the mausoleum which is specially constructed to give a special light as you can see in the photograph below, and doesn't require heating either.


 After some information about the founding of the gallery in 1817 by Noel desenfans and Peter Bourgeois, we were taken to this fragment of a painting by Veronese - St.Jerome and Girolamo Petrobelli, 1563.
 We then went into the Poussin room and Mary talked about the 'Triumph of David' painting below
 and 'The Nurture of Jupiter'
 We then spent some time eating and drinking in the glorious grounds


 This metal structure below would make a lovely planter, currently has some gravel in it.
 All too soon, it was time to get onto the coach, and sit in lots more traffic and look at the lovely things we'd bought in the shop, in my case, a fridge magnet, the James Russell book, a table mat, lots of cards and a Tiddlywinks game. On the way home, there were some good reflections in windows
 I rather liked this one:
 And the view of the bridge looked impressive at the time
 So where next? The Ravilious exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery will be a hard act to follow.



Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Latest Friends talk - James Russell on Eric Ravilious

I was really pleased to book James Russell, curator of the current Ravilious exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, to come and talk to us about the artist Eric Ravilious. He proved a very popular choice of speaker, all tickets were sold for the talk, and we had to send about twenty people away.
I will say something about his talk here, but by visiting his blog, you can watch 3 videos about the current Dulwich exhibition, and get an idea of what an insightful speaker he is.
So please click here for a link to his blog.
I wish I'd taken more photos, but there was so much going on that night that it was hard to concentrate on photos. There were lots of new people joining the Friends and we were taking the second payment for the trip to Dulwich on July 10th.
I took a photo of the computer screen before James' talk:
 The lovely Westbury white horse with a train in the background, and below James talking to a full house:
I've made a few notes, so I'll include them here.
Ravilious went to the Royal College of Art and was a contemporary of Henry Moore and Edward Burra. At this time, there was a resurgence of watercolour painting, and Sell Cottman was a great favourite of Ravilious. At the RCA he was taught by Paul Nash, along with Edward Bawden. Ravilious started by doing wood engraving, there are some in the Dulwich exhibition, it's a good way of illustrating books and newspapers. His wife, Firza was also a successful wood engraver, although she gave this up when they had children.
Ravilious loved the countryside around Wiltshire and liked staying at Oare House, open this year coincidentally on June 28th under the NGS scheme. He painted this atmospheric and cleverly executed painting in the vegetable garden:
It's called Strawberry Nets, the hills of Pewsey Vale can be seen in the background.
Ravilious wanted to be modern, quirky and unusual, so he painted avoiding green, substituting brown  where he could do so.
Peggy Angus another RCA artist was a Scottish communist who lived for years in half a cottage called Furlongs, close to Eastborne in a place called Furle, many glorious paintings were produced here. The glorious Mr Humphreys'greenhouse paintings were painted at nearby Furle Place.
Some memorable paintings were produced in a year of traveling around the border country around Capel y Ffin, Wiltshire and back to Eastbourne. He also painted around Castle Hedingham where he lived for several years, and where there's a memorial to him.
He sadly died in 1942 in the second world war over Norway where he'd gone for the fabulous midnight sun, aged just 39.
The children's book he was working on when he was killed was recently found and bought by the Devizes Museum.
I am really looking forward to the Friends' visit to the Dulwich Picture Gallery on Friday, it will be a real treat.



Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Frameworks Visits to Bath on June 1st

It has taken me a long time to process the photographs from this visit and put them onto the blog. The visit to the Victoria Art Gallery and the Holburne Museum in Bath was arranged by Frameworks, and organisation which is doing a brilliant job at highlighting the brilliant museums and art galleries in the west of England. Those participating are Swindon Museum and Art gallery, Bristol Museum and Art gallery, The Wilson in Cheltenham, the Victoria Art Gallery and Holburne Museum in Bath.
We were due to start our day at the Victoria Art Gallery at 10.30am, and as we waited outside, I noticed the Bath Society of Artists had used one of Tim Carroll's paintings for their poster above the door:
 We were welcomed by Michael Rowe, Chair of the friends of the Victoria Art Gallery who introduced us to the Victoria Art gallery. We were then passed on to Jon Benington, manager of the gallery who talked firstly about the significance of the paintings on loan from Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, and also quite a lot about the wonderful collection we have in Swindon.
The five are 'The Sybil' by Cecil Collins, and here is Jon talking about it.
 Secondly  'Gisette Neveu' painted in 1945 by Raymond Mason, and thirdly 'The Artist's Sister Deborah' by Mark Gertler painted c 1911.

 And the fourth and fifth paintings below 'The Potteries' by Julian Trevelyan 1938, and 'A Procession' by LS Lowry also 1938.
 The most popular painting in VAG is this one, 'The Watersplash' painted in 1900 by Henry Herbert la Thangue

'The Bride in Death' by Thomas Jones Barker in 1839 comes a clsoe second in popularity
 There is some beautiful coloured glass made in Bristol which is worth close examination
 From the exhibition on the first floor, we had a look at the stores in the basement, this was fascinating, and included a look at miniatures:
 And this fine jug which has been assembled from pieces which had become separated from each other, possibly after the site was bombed.
 It was very interesting to look at the paintings in the store
 including a Cecil Collins, this is a detail of the painting.
 From the Victoria Art gallery, we walked to the Holburne and had a very pleasant lunch in their cafe, and had a look at the nearby canal
 We were hoping to look round the 32 paintings in the Gwen John to Lucien Freud: Home and the World, Dexter Dalwood selects from the Swindon Collection exhibition, but were unable to do so because of the leaking roof to the gallery
 However in a very small gallery/room called the Wirth Gallery, I discovered a real gem, The Observer Observed: A Portrait of Don McCullin by Charlotte Sorapure.
 On the way home, I made a couple of attempts at photographing the white horse at Cherhill

What a great day out. I'm hoping we can reciprocate before too long.