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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

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Mike Yates - Timeless Secrets

Last Friday Mike Yates, guest curator of the ceramics exhibition at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery entitled Timeless Secrets: Ceramic Artists in their own words, gave a free lunchtime talk. Mike has loaned many of his own pieces, and had fascinating tales to tell about many of them. In the case on the right as you look down the gallery, there's a painted plate made by an artist who discovered they sold much more successfully than his paintings. In the same case, there's an instantly recognisable pot by Sarah Purvey, one of several small pieces made for a particular gallery which all sold.
The left hand case holds older pieces owned by Mike and the Swindon Collection. Accompanying the collection are comments made the artists themselves, some of the quotes made are fascinating, it's well worth having a look at the laminated booklet that accompanies the exhibition.
This is what the Museum's website says about the exhibition:
'“Pottery has its own language and inherent laws, and words have theirs, and neither can be bound by the other. Nevertheless a certain amount of translation and interpretation is possible.” Bernard Leach
Timeless Secrets is an exhibition celebrating the artistic skills of potters and artists who work with clay. But it is more than that. Accompanying these art-works are comments made by the artists themselves. Over the years some ceramicists have spoken extensively about their work, while others have remained silent, letting their work speak for itself.
This exhibition is guest curated by the ceramics collector and writer Mike Yates, and features work by Charles Bound, Mo Jupp, John Maltby, Ray Finch, Jennifer Lee and Lucie Rie.
Sponsored by Joel and Vanetta Joffe'
 Here's Mike talking to the group:
and here he's referring to the case on the right with the more modern pieces, and Grant Aston's 'Radioactivat' just behind him on the left. Grant has agreed to come and give a talk to the Friends, I'm hoping we might be able to agree a date when he can come in 2019.
Here's Mike talking about the great ceramicists in the left hand case
Also it's great to see a whole page advertisement for this exhibition in the great magazine, Ceramic's Review, not only that, but the magazine gives this exhibition a top show rating for a ceramic's exhibition to visit!!
Above a photo of the advertisement in Ceramic's Review.
I'm also really pleased to say Mike Yates will be coming to talk to the Friends about this exhibition on Thursday 26 July at 7.30pm, and Curator Sophie Cummings has kindly agreed to extend the exhibition until after the talk. So come along to find out more about this beautiful exhibition.

Refurbishment of the Archaeology Gallery

The archaeology gallery at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery has recently been closed for refurbishment, and is now open for visitors again. Last week I went for a quick look round and was very impressed by how aesthetically pleasing it looks. The new cases are delightful, and the signage informative and bold, reminding me how important attention to detail is in creating a pleasantly educational experience. Whereas before the displays were charming, now they're enticing and draw the visitor into the gallery.
This is what I mean:
 These two vessels come from a burial found during excavations at a Romano-British cemetery in Purton, they would look lovely displayed together at home!!
The Highworth Pot looks fabulous, it's now called 'The Highworth Ceramic', I have to keep reminding myself it's from 1st-2nd Century AD, and when it broke, because it was so expensive, it was repaired by drilling holes in it, and holding the broken parts together with staples.
Below these three cases show the lovely interpretation boards and lighting which make the overall effect so good when visiting the gallery. They are showing objects form the Stone Age 6000-2500BC, The Bronze Age 2500-800BC and the Iron Age 800BC-AD43
The model of the Iron Age Roundhouse has pride of place in the centre of the gallery and looks rather good:
The roundhouse was based on those found at Groundwell, St.Andrews, Swindon. People and animals often lived together in these roundhouses making the most of space and warmth.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Jon Ratcliffe's unseen Swindon

Jon's sell out talk was a real success, a professional photographer with a fantastic eye for the unexpectedly interesting, his talk and photos were really fascinating. We're fortunate that Jon sent me some photos and a biography. This is what Jon says about himself:

I am a professional photographer focusing on long-term urban regeneration and infrastructure projects in the UK. I enjoy architecture and landscape photography and qualified in 2012 after studying Professional Photography through the University of Gloucestershire at New College in Swindon. Projects have ranged from photographing artwork on an unopened road in the dead of night in Swindon, to getting the last scenes of dereliction in the old Swindon College at Regent Circus and capturing the building and commissioning of new London Underground trains in Derby and London. The history of our town sometimes seems quite intangible, but there’s far more of it just under the surface if you care to look a bit closer.

Above: Swindon’s David Murray John building on a beautifully clear day
Above: The new upper floor of the old Foundry/Long Shop building as work goes on to convert it into the latest extension of the Outlet Village
This is Aspen House on Temple Street wrapped up and being prepared for demolition
and these are: The tunnels underneath the Health Hydro that supplied hot water and steam to the public baths
and is this one my favourite. I'm not sure, it's The Renault Building, one of the UK’s youngest listed buildings, at Westmead.
After those superb photos, my photo of Jon taken during talk seems very tame and badly composed.