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For only £15 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

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Lunchtime Talk - A Seeming Diversity

The day after our last talk of the year, we were lucky enough to be back again in the gallery for a free lunchtime talk with Curator Sophie Cummings, with I think a record number of people attending.

Use was made of the folded seats

Several views of the 'crowd'
Sophie also unrolled some of Ian Hamilton Finlay's works on paper:
Janet spent many summers with Ian at Little Sparta
After the talk, people continued to look at the exhibition.

The next three free lunchtime talks are:
Friday 26 January 12.30pm on Face the Music exhibition
Friday 16 February 12.30pm talk about The Euston Road School exhibition
Friday 23 February 12.30pm talk about the Paper exhibition

Janet Boulton in Conversation with Sophie Cummings

Last Thursday, we were fortunate enough to have a wonderful evening with Janet Boulton in conversation with Curator Sophie Cummings, it was our last event of 2017, and a real treat for those who have admired Janet's exhibition: A Seeming Diversity:working with watercolour currently on show in the gallery until 20 January 2018.
The museum's website says this about the exhibition:
'Janet Boulton is internationally known for her watercolours and paper relief works, but few know of her connections to Swindon. This exhibition celebrates her works on paper and will include paintings inspired by music, still life and gardens.
Boulton was born in Swindon. After art school, she returned to the town and worked as an art teacher at Swindon College, Commonweal and Hreod Parkway. In 1977, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery hosted her exhibition, ‘Windows and Reflections’, inspired by her views from classrooms in the town. Since the late 1970s, she has worked at Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden at Little Sparta, the Villa La Pietra, and the Garden Museum. Her work is in public and private collections in the UK and abroad.
This exhibition is a welcome return to Swindon from this important artist. It celebrates both her innovative use of watercolour and her engagement with nature, beauty, architecture and music.'

 The evening started with the premier viewing of Janet's beautiful film to accompany the exhibition, made by Zuleika Kingdon. You can see the film on Janet's website
After watching the film, Sophie asked Janet about her her teaching experiences in Swindon and Abingdon, where she moved in 1977. Janet worked part time as an art teacher for many years, and continued to develop her own practice.
there was a large, enthusiastic audience:

I was particularly interested in Janet's paintings of Barnsley House garden which I was fortunate enough to visit when the late great Rosemary Verey was pottering around the garden and keen to talk to anyone looking round and showing an interest. Developing and painting gardens are important themes in Janet's work, she is a very keen gardener and has invited 10 Friends to look round her garden in the summer. There are still 8 spaces if you'd like to come, please let me know, date to be arranged.
Other themes featured in the exhibition include still life with bottles and lines, 'eye music' and paper relief works .
Three of Janet's earlier works, currently on display in the Paper exhibition in the larger part of the gallery, have been gifted by Wiltshire Council's Creative Wiltshire project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
 The piece featured above is called 'Physics Room Window, Hreod Burna Senior High School', it was painted in 1974 when coincidentally I was teaching Science at Hreod Burna, so our paths crossed all those years ago. The school was named Hreod Burna after the stream that ran through the school grounds, it has now been rebranded as Hreod Parkway, it was Hreod Burna when Janet and I taught there.
Tom Seaward, Swindon Advertiser reporter has written a lovely piece on the evening: http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/NEWS/15777518.Painter_returns_to_Swindon_Art_Gallery_after_40_years_away/




Sunday, 10 December 2017

Lunchtime Talk about the new Paper Exhibition

Curator Sophie Cummings gave us a wonderful tour of the new Paper exhibition at lunchtime on Friday 1 December. The lunchtime talks are free and start at 12.30pm and last half an hour, with time for questions afterwards. They are well attended and extremely enjoyable and informative.
Above some of those who turned up to hear the talk, and below Sophie talking about a group of drawings
and below talking about Nicholas Munro's 'Igloos'.

The pieces Sophie particularly picked out to discuss are seen below:
above you'll all recognise this Alfred Wallis picture 'Ship amid Tall Waves', oil and pencil on board
above not so typical of Edward Bawden's 'Essex Housing Estate' painted in 1954
Above John Nash's 'Buoys at Harwich' painted c 1955, it's watercolour on paper, and below 'Grey and White Drawing' by John Walker in 1965-6. It's an amazing piece, the way it's executed makes it look like it's made form many different pieces of paper, but it's a clever optical illusion.
And this piece by Nicholas Moore is a screen print called 'Igloos' has been used to promote the exhibition.#

Above Alison Lambert's 'Amal' a drawing with collaged elements, 2008.#
Below 4 pieces by Cecil Collins, Head, Head, Sun Head and Studies.
Below this is Goshawk by Charles Tunnicliffe it's a wood engraving on paper.
With a bit of reflection, a drawing by Duncan Grant entitled 'Kneeling Figure'#
Below Michael Ayrton's etching entitled 'Narcissus' 1976 #
Those pieces with a hashtag beside them are examples of pieces from the Meryl Ainslie Gift, an anonymous gift of fifty works on paper given in tribute to the artist and gallery owner Meryl Ainslie.
The next FREE lunchtime talk will take place on Friday 15 December at 12.30pm and will look at the Janet Boulton exhibition.




Private View of the Paper and Janet Boulton: Watercolours exhibitions

On Wednesday 29 November from 6pm, there was a Private View of the two new exhibitions which had just opened, were very well attended and we had a wonderful evening.
In the main part of the gallery, the exhibition Paper: Drawings, prints and works on paper from the Swindon Collection, this is what the website says:
Works on paper are some of the most fascinating examples of modern art. This exhibition features drawings, watercolours and prints by modern and contemporary artists and demonstrates the huge range of effects that can be created using paper and imagination.
The exhibition celebrates the recent Meryl Ainslie Gift donation – a group of more than 50 works on paper given anonymously to Swindon in 2017 in appreciation of Meryl Ainslie’s services to the Arts. Meryl Ainslie MA is founder of Rabley Drawing Centre, a gallery and drawing school located near Marlborough which specialises in drawings, works on paper and original prints. She worked at Swindon School of Art between 1993 and 2004 and was instrumental in the development and delivery of the successful higher education programme in Fine Art Drawing.
The exhibition features works by Allen Jones, Nicholas Monro, Michael Ayrton, Basil Beattie and Katherine Jones. These are displayed alongside prints by Ian Hamilton Finlay, Eduardo Paolozzi and Cecil Collins, and drawings by George Clausen, Gwen John and Augustus John.
The exhibition in the smaller part of the gallery is called Janet Boulton: Watercolours
Janet Boulton is internationally known for her watercolours and paper relief works, but few know of her connections to Swindon. This exhibition celebrates her works on paper and will include paintings inspired by music, still life and gardens.
Boulton was born in Swindon. After art school, she returned to the town and worked as an art teacher at Swindon College, Commonweal and Hreod Parkway. In 1977, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery hosted her exhibition, ‘Windows and Reflections’, inspired by her views from classrooms in the town. Since the late 1970s, she has worked at Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden at Little Sparta, the Villa La Pietra, and the Garden Museum. Her work is in public and private collections in the UK and abroad.
This exhibition is a welcome return to Swindon from this important artist. It celebrates both her innovative use of watercolour and her engagement with nature, beauty, architecture and music.
As you can see, the gallery was fairly packed
We were very fortunate to have Richard Morphet giving an opening speech. Richard seen below is known for his long association with the museum, for many years he advised Denys Hodson about acquisitions for the Swindon Collection.
The Paper exhibition continues until 10 March, and Janet Boulton's exhibition continues until 20 January. Don't miss the in conversation with Janet Boulton and Sophie Cummings on Thursday 14 December.

Preparing to send off the Bid

On Wednesday 29 November, members of the Trust were asked to attend a photoshoot at the Civic Offices in Euclid Street, to celebrate the delivery of the newly bound copies of the Bid for the new Swindon Museum and Art Gallery to be delivered the following day to the Heritage Lottery Fund offices in Exeter. Several photographers spent about half an hour getting Rod Hebden to pose with a wheelbarrow full of postcards with a line of us behind him and on the steps of the Civic Offices, which posed a problem for leader of the council David Renard, because being taller than most of us had to stand on a low step at the front of the group. We held copies of the Bid above our heads, we cheered and generally did all the things we were asked to do, but I can't find a record in the media of any of the photos taken that day.
I took these two when I arrived, Eleanor Collins from Vox PR handing over one of the Bid folders
and here's the front cover with an artist's impression of the building designed by Make Architects
The next day, Thursday 30 November, we supporters met outside the Museum to wave Rod Hebden and Paul Holmes off and wish them luck.
Above Tom Seaward reporter at the Swindon Advertiser simultaneously photographing and interviewing Rod.
I like this photo above because it shows Rod in action with a box of postcards!!
A selection of articles in the Swindon Advertiser and Rod Hebden's column have been very positive and informative,and show a selection of photos.
12 October:
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/leisure/hobbies_art/15592583.ROD_HEBDEN_S_COLUMN__What_our_project_is_all_about/

from 18 October:
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/15602185.New_bid_to_win_huge_Lottery_grant_for_museum_and_art_gallery/

10 November written as a result of Rod's input at our AGM:
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/15654481.See_behind_the_walls_of_the_new_Swindon_Museum/

16 November:
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/News/15666064.ROD_HEBDEN_s_COLUMN__Now_bring_on_the_Goliaths/

when the bid had gone in 30 November:
http://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/15693720.Museum_trust_submit___12m_lottery_bid/

There was also a handy 4 page pull out about the bid on 1 December,.
Fingers crossed for a good result.



The Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Sites

We were fortunate enough to have Sarah Simmonds, Partnership Manager for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Sites, to talk to us at Swindon Dance for our November talk. I sat rather too far back from the stage, and didn't want to interrupt proceedings with photograph taking, so have only got this rather fuzzy photo of Sarah.
 Stonehenge and Avebury were inscribed together on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List in 1986. The Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site was one of the UK’s very first World Heritage Sites.
 Stonehenge and Avebury gained their place on the World Heritage Site list for their outstanding prehistoric monuments dating back over 5000 years to the Neolithic and Bronze Age.  Stonehenge is the most famous and sophisticated prehistoric stone circle in the world.  At Avebury the massive banks and ditches of the henge enclose its largest.  Both stone circles lie at the heart of  prehistoric landscapes containing numerous impressive and amazingly well-preserved ceremonial monuments.
Sarah guided us through some very interesting  information about both Avebury and Stonehenge sites, including the fact that there are 250 round barrows around the Avebury site, and she reminded us that artists such as Turner and Paul Nash have been influenced by the stones in the landscape.
The main issue at Stonehenge, the 8th most visited site in the UK, is how to manage the traffic, which is why an underground road has been suggested to attempt to separate traffic from the stones.
163 countries have signed up to the Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and national heritage, delisting can happen if a site isn't managed properly. There are 31 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK, the latest one is in the Lake District. A site needs one of ten criteria to become a WHS, it's now much harder to again world heritage status than it was in 1986.
 I'm not sure adding thses photos is worthwhile, the top one shows a photo of the Lake District and below there's a map showing Avebury and Stonehenge, they are 40km apart apparently.
 After the talk, we drew the raffle, and I'm pleased to say that most people who won were in the audience, so were able to choose what they wanted from the selection of prizes. Lynette's mosaic of Stonehenge and Avebury went to a very good home, and we raised £140. Thank you to all who took part in the raffle.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Raffle Prizes

We've got some fabulous prizes in our Christmas raffle being drawn tomorrow. Tickets are 50p each or £2 a strip, and we're raising money for our continuing support of the museum in helping purchase artworks, restoration of paintings and collections, sponsoring exhibitions, like the forthcoming Janet Boulton one and so on.
The prizes are fabulous, tickets will be on sale at tomorrow night's talk by Sarah Simmonds on the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. The talk starts at 7.30pm, it's being held at Swindon Dance in the former Town Hall, SN1 1QF, and doors open at 7pm.
I have photographs of 3 of the prizes:
 Above a mosaic by Lynette Thomas with a Stonehenge and Avebury theme, and below one of Tim Carroll's One Hundred Views of Swindon books
 And another gorgeous prize, an Italian food hamper
 
Other prizes include: 
  • a writing set
  • a print by Sir William Russell Flint- Conversation Piece
  • another print by the same artist Venetian Festival
  • The book A History of the World in 100 Objects 
  • Rose wine
  • Red Spanish wine
  • Linocut by Cheryl Holland
  • Pen drawing by Gill Robinson
  • Swindon Highlights calendar by Dona Bradley
Here's a poster advertising the exhibition with more details:

Friday, 10 November 2017

AGM Part Two

For the second half of the AGM, we handed over to Curator Sophie Cummings to give us her news:
 Sophie mentioned some of the exhibitions earlier this year, including the very popular Paint Me this Way! a fantastically moving portrait therapy exhibition by Susan Carr
and how often  Vanessa Bell's painting has been requested by other galleries
 Great news is that the Friends have helped purchase this Eileen Cooper painting which will on show soon.
 The next exhibition will include works on paper from the Swindon Collection
 Above other acquisitions include the Sarah Purvey ceramic from the From Where I'm Standing Exhibition bought by the Friends, a photo of Deacons at the end of the 19th Century, Aerobots by David Bent and the donation by Fenella Elms of her intricate piece from the From Where I'm Standing Exhibition

 Future plans include revamping the archaeology displays, restoration of the Todd herbarium Collection, and an exhibition of musical instruments in our collection.
 Then Rod Hebden, Director of the Trust talked about latest photos of the proposed new museum and art gallery, and answered questions.
There was a short time afterwards for drinks and I managed to take a couple of photos, having been reunited with my phone:

Great evening, thank you to all of those who came and made it so special.