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, 24 March 2016

Our Very Special Visit to the Royal Academy

It all began with an email from Meryl Ainslie inviting the Friends to visit Eileen Cooper RA in her studio when she said:

'I have spoken to Eileen Cooper RA and she would be delighted to welcome the Friends of Swindon Museum and Gallery to visit her studio at the Royal Academy and the RA Keepers House on Tuesday 22 March 2016

Eileen has offered to show you her studio in the Keepers House and talk about the RA schools and her role as Keeper of the Royal Academy.

She is keen for you to have a very special visit and has kindly offered to organise tickets for one of the current RA exhibitions for those who are not already members of the RA. There are two fantastic shows to consider. 

In the Age of Giorgione
12 March — 5 June 2016

Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse
30 January — 20 April 2016'
What an opportunity! We booked a coach and quickly filled the 30 places for the studio visit, and then took a few more people who were keen to visit the RA..
The day of the visit dawned bright and sunny with fabulous blue skies, 34 of us boarded the coach in Old Town at 9.15am, and as the coach sped along the M4, we imagined we might be at the Royal Academy in 2 hours, however the last mile proved very slow with a broken down car with steam issuing from it in a tunnel, and then various other hindrances like removal vans, meant we arrived about noon. We were given passes to the fabulous private 'Academicians' Room' and to the Gorgione exhibition, so a few of us headed straight up to have refreshments up there:
 It's a lovely space, a bit like a huge lavishly furnished very comfortable living room with amazing ceramics behind the bar. I could have stayed there all afternoon, but there were other things to see. If you click on the link, you can see it's meant to look like a lavish living room!!
 I'm a lover of tree ferns, so was very impressed by the RA tree ferns seen from the stairs up to the Academicians' Room

From there we went for a preliminary look at 'Painting the Modern Garden' before heading to Eileen Cooper's studio at 1.30pm. It's a huge and very popular exhibition with some wonderful paintings on show; paintings that take your breathe away.
And so to the studio where I took some photos of Eileen Cooper talking to us
and some of the audience which included two of our Friends who live in London and were thrilled to be able to join us for the day. It was lovely to meet them, and I'm hoping they can come to more of our events.
Another one of the audience looking completely rapt and full of admiration for Eileen Cooper as she described her journey from schoolgirl who loved art, and was directed towards hairdressing, but fortunately swerved away from that and went to art school. Since then she has painted all her life by organising her time carefully and included a teaching career and motherhood in between producing her own work. It's not surprising when you meet her and hear her talking that Eileen Cooper is the first woman Keeper of the Royal Academy since it began in 1768
I included the photo below because it shows the trolley with painting paraphernalia.
I asked Eileen if it would be alright to take photos of her work, and she said 'Yes' so here are some of the glorious works in the studio:




  The paintings are great to look at and a great taster for the 'Hide and Seek' exhibition coming to Swindon on Wednesday 19th of April. You will also get chance to hear Eileen Cooper talking on Thursday 12th of May, and find out why she has a great affection for the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.

It was a fabulous day out, one we'll remember, thanks go to Eileen Cooper and Meryl Ainslie and lots of others behind the scenes who helped the day happen.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Nevison and Wallis lunchtime talk

The free lunch time talks at the museum held by Curator Sophie Cummings are becoming increasingly popular and enjoyable. I've suggested that they should be videoed for those who cannot attend because they are so good.
For those who haven't been to them, they are held at 12.30pm-1pm on certain days, specified on the website: http://swindonmuseumandartgallery.org.uk/events/category/talks/  
I like to take a photo of Sophie talking to the group during these talks, so here she is:
 The one held on 11 March focused firstly on Claude Muncaster first; Sophie  brought out one of his watercolours seen below to compare his treatment of the landscape in watercolour, with one in oils.
 Above is the watercolour by Claude Muncaster, and below 'Sussex Landscape' c 1947 purchased from the artist.
 Sophie then moved on to the magnificent landscape by Denis Wirth-Miller seen below, entitled 'Landscape' it was painted in 1956, and is fascinating to look at, what's intriguing is the small amount of sky in the painting compared to the other landscapes.
 And last but by no means least, CRW Nevinson's 'Welsh Hills'
 I thoroughly enjoyed the talk, and didn't ask about the Alfred Wallis, 'Ship Amid Tall Waves', but I do love it.
 The next lunchtime talks are as follows:

– The Swindon Collection of Modern British Art

Saturday, 2 April | 12.30 pm - 1.00 pm
Join our Curator for a FREE informal lunchtime introduction to our incredible collection of modern British art.  This interactive talk will highlight a selection of favourite works and artists on display and give you the chance to ask questions and learn more about Swindon Museum and Art Gallery. 12.30pm – 1.00pm in the Art Gallery.

FREE Lunchtime Talk – Introduction to Hide and Seek exhibition

Friday, 6 May | 12.30 pm - 1.00 pm
Join our Curator for a FREE informal lunchtime introduction to our exhibition, Hide and Seek. This interactive talk will highlight a selection of favourite works and artists on display and give you the chance to ask questions and learn more about the exhibition. 
 

FREE Lunchtime Talk – Introduction to Hide and Seek exhibition

Friday, 1 July | 12.30 pm - 1.00 pm
Join our Curator for a FREE informal lunchtime introduction to our exhibition, Hide and Seek. This interactive talk will highlight a selection of favourite works and artists on display and give you the chance to ask questions and learn more about the exhibition.

FREE Lunchtime Talk – Introduction to Hide and Seek exhibition

Friday, 19 August | 12.30 pm - 1.00 pm
Join our Curator for a FREE informal lunchtime introduction to our exhibition, Hide and Seek. This interactive talk will highlight a selection of favourite works and artists on display and give you the chance to ask questions and learn more about the exhibition.

Opening night of Swindon in 175 Images Exhibition

On the evening of Tuesday 8 March, we were very pleased to provide refreshments for the private view of the Swindon in 175 Images exhibition currently on show in the front two downstairs rooms. Many of the Friends of SM&AG had kindly donated towards the staging of this exhibition, so it was lovely to be able to invite them along to the private view.
This exhibition is a great way to celebrate the Swindon 175 celebrations going on all over the town this year, and appears on the 175 website if you click on the link.
I spent too much time handing out drinks and nibbles rather than taking photos, but here are a few.
I'll take more of the exhibition soon.
 There were lots of people at the launch.
And some fascinating photos, paintings and objects.
Ian Wilkins, a committee member was convinced there was a photo of his father who worked in Garrards!
Do try and have a look at this fascinating exhibition, and I'll take a few more photos soon.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Director Appointed for the Museum & Art Gallery Project

I've copied and pasted this press release which appeared on Thursday for anyone who hasn't yet seen it. The project to build a new museum and art gallery has become even more exciting.

SMAG 3
Posted by .

Appointment of director a major boost for Swindon Museum & Art Gallery project

Appointment of director a major boost for Swindon Museum & Art Gallery project Swindon’s drive to have a new Museum and Art Gallery in the town centre has been significantly boosted with the appointment of Hadrian Ellory-van Dekker, who is currently the Science Museum’s Head of Collections and Chief Curator, as Director of the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust.
Hadrian, 47, will have responsibility for overseeing a fundraising strategy, and managing the design and build of the new museum and art gallery and its forward programme of exhibitions and activities.
Hadrian Ellory-van Dekker
Hadrian Ellory-van Dekker
The Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust was incorporated on October 29 2015 under the chairmanship of Robert Hiscox and run by a board of 5 locally-based trustees, including the Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Brian Mattock. It was registered as a Charity in February 2016.
The Trust is managing the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery project which has two key aims: to create a fitting home for Swindon’s museum and art collections, including the nationally significant collection of British 20th Century Modern Art, and use its location to boost regeneration of the economy and attractiveness of the town centre.
Swindon Borough Council has pledged £5m towards the project with the rest of the estimated £22.5m build cost being raised by the Trust from grants and donations.
Robert Hiscox said: “We are delighted to have attracted a Director of such calibre to lead our project to build a new museum and art gallery to be the heart of the new cultural quarter in Swindon.
“Hadrian has hugely valuable experience, recently at the acclaimed Science Museum, and his knowledge of art and science and his senior roles in museum management give great credibility to the venture.”
Cllr David Renard, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said: “Delivering a new museum and art gallery is one of the Council’s pledges and forms an integral part of our plans to breathe new life into the town centre.
“Hadrian’s appointment will help us in our quest to deliver on that pledge and his expertise will be invaluable as we continue the bid process with the Heritage Lottery Fund.”
Hadrian Ellory-van Dekker, said: “I feel both honoured and privileged to be appointed the Trust’s first Director.
“This is an incredibly exciting and once-in-a-career opportunity to make a real difference: to build a new art gallery and museum; to maximize the potential of, and continue to develop, a really great collection; and, building on the successes of the past and working with local communities, to place the art gallery and museum and its activities at the very heart of the town and its cultural life.
“In my previous role at the Science Museum Group, I have often been a visitor to Swindon. I am really looking forward to working with the great people and wonderful collection here.”
In addition to his current role, which involves directing the output of curators, academics, scientists, librarians, archivists, content and collection professionals and other technical specialists to increase access to and relevance of the museums’ activity and collections, Hadrian has also worked at the British Museum, and was a visiting fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and more latterly across the Science Museum Group of museums.
Externally, he has worked with a wide range of trustees, sponsors, donors, government departments, learned societies and other external museums and galleries, and is a Director of the Collections Trust and Chair of Arts Council England’s Accreditation Committee for museums and galleries across the United Kingdom.
Hadrian takes up his post in June.

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Monday, 7 March 2016

#RSA Engage in #Swindon

Last week I attended an RSA meeting chaired by Martin Newman, the RSA's local heritage ambassador in the Central Community Centre. There was a wide cross section of people there, some of whom are Fellows of the RSA, others not. So what is the RSA and why were they meeting in Swindon last week? Looking on their website I discovered they were founded in 1754 and their commitment to enrich society through ideas and action has remained constant ever since.
Their mission statement also helps understanding what their impetus:

'The mission of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is to enrich society through ideas and action.
We believe that all human beings have creative capacities that, when understood and supported, can be mobilised to deliver a 21st century enlightenment.
We work to bring about the conditions for this change, not just amongst our diverse Fellowship, but also in institutions and communities.
By sharing powerful ideas and carrying out cutting-edge research, we build networks and opportunities for people to collaborate - creating fulfilling lives and a flourishing society.'

Martin Newman gave a short introductory talk reminding us of the fantastic large heritage institutions we have in Swindon:
 The next slide isn't very clear, but it does say we have 659 listed buildings, 53 scheduled monuments and 3 registered Parks and Gardens.
 Martin was followed by Daniel Rose who talked about the Mechanics Institution Trust
 and how his inspiration comes from the pioneering people who created so much innovation; the projects he's involved with includes all heritage in the area of the railway village include GWR Park, turning the Bakers Arms into a community cafe, having a children's fete to celebrate 150th anniversary as well as 175, and the Railway Cottage museum. here's a link to a great piece on Daniel Rose and the Mechanics Institution Trust:http://swindonlink.com/2016/03/the-time-has-come-for-the-mechanics-institution-in-swindon/
There's an RSA Heritage Index derived from looking at 100 indicators assessing what's important to consider. It's possible to look at overall scores for different places, looking at their potential and how they use it.
There were probably 40 people at this meeting, including organisers for RSA West, Fred Fowler and RSA Central, Maurizio Fantato who works in Swindon and is coming to visit the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery for tomorrow's 175 exhibition preview.