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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

Sunday, 19 May 2019

'Threads in a Web' a talk by Sculptor David Lomax

I first heard about David Lomax's work when I went to the unveiling of Hoarusib, a life sized sculpture of a bull elephant,  at Liddington Manor on 4 December 2016. The elephant had been moved to the coombe beside Liddington Manor 25 years after it had been first commissioned, the whole story is recounted here and on the Liddington village site. I also discovered an article in The Independent
 I took a few photos of the unveiling attended by many people.
And then was able to take a few without anyone else around, showing the delightful setting.
 Hoarusib looks fantastic doesn't he?
 There was also a lovely brass plaque made to commemorate the event, and unveiling by Robert Buckland MP.
Also in the same setting is this beautiful sculpture by David Lomax:
I was intrigued to find out more about David Lomax and the talk did not disappoint, David took us through his major influences and illustrated his talk with a wonderful selection of visual images. I took lots of notes, so I'll see if almost a month after the talk I can make any sense of them.
David grew up near Aldbourne, influenced by the form of trees, Sarsen stones and the landscape created and changing through geological time. The first image he showed us was a view of the earth from the Apollo space mission 50 years ago, he also cited James Lovelock who said it was useful to think of the earth as a living organism, and declared a climate emergency 10 years ago. This article raises concerns about carbon dioxide levels increasing exponentially.
David took us back 40000 years ago looking at cave paintings and early man's relationship to animals, and onto Knossus and the minotaur, a python and lizard and  John Aspinall's silver back gorilla. He commended the green men at Sutton Benger church to us, Henry Moore's sculpture of mother and child in a church in Northampton.
David ended his talk by saying we sacrifice things for our way of life and wondered what the updated Apollo photo would look like now. The oceans would be white with plastic rubbish.
Rereading what David said the talk would be about, he fulfilled the brief he had set very well indeed.

'This illustrated talk explores influences and themes that have prompted David’s sculpture; being more conscious than ever today that the exponential pace of industrialisation has left a splintered web in the continuity between mankind and the rest of creation. The essentially figurative work often combines animal and plant forms in relation to human form in search of connections: acorn in a man’s hand, tulip and bird’s beak and crowning a queen, in a way it’s like darning the odd stitch in that fractured web. David has drawn on paleolithic, pre-classical Greek and African inspiration sensing there is a more visceral engagement with earth, and his own memories of skylarks flitting between sarsen and beech, sentinels of the chalk hills.
The talk will be accompanied with images that have moved David, and with examples of sculpture they have inspired.'
It was an excellent talk to a packed house. I took some very poor photos which I'll add here:
 Above David talking about cave paintings, and below another one in action

 Below is a photo, with a head in the way of one of the most wonderful carvings. My notes are too incomplete to identify it, I'll rectify this soon. I won't recount the anecdote about the dog portrait, but that was a classic.
 Thank you David for a wonderful talk and I'll be in touch soon.

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Friends' Trip to Victoria Art Gallery

After their visit to Swindon MAG last year, the Friends of Victoria Art Gallery very kindly invited us over for a guided tour of the stores, the galleries and for a meal afterwards. We had a fascinating time in the stores where we learnt there are 10000 watercolours, 250 miniatures and lots of oil paintings.
I didn't take many notes, but will show some of the photos I took.
 Above in the stores with Chair of the Friends, Michael Rowe talking about what's in the collection.
 Below a panda by Clifford Ellis
 and here is Michael talking about the watercolours I think
 He talked about the fantastic record paintings of Bath give us; this one of Pulteney Bridge shows what it was like some years ago.
 And this watercolour was held up and provided an example of what can happen when works are lent out. This watercolour was substituted for a print while on loan.
 And some of the drawings give very useful information about life in Bath 200 years ago.
 There is an excellent collection of Eltonware from Sir Edmund Elton who worked at Clevedon Court where much of his work can still be seen.
 Here's an example of a ceramic piece by James Tower, there were others.
 From there stores, we went to the first floor where we had afternoon tea and delicious lemon drizzle and chocolate brownies, and from tehre we went to watch the fantastic Sharmanka Travelling Circus it's at the Victoria Art Gallery until 6 May, and well worth a visit.
 From the travelling circus, we went upstairs to the main gallery and were given a talk about Nicholas Poussin's 'The Triumph of Pan', on loan from the National Gallery until 7 July when as part of the Masterpiece tour, it moves on.
 We were in the gallery when Jon Benington, Manager of the Victoria Art Gallery brought in a donated work on paper by Christopher Nevinson

 I love this view of the canal bridge by Nash
 and 'The Pink Chair'
 'The Sketchers' painted in 1930 by Algernon Talmage
 and there's something about this Howard Hodgkin painting, painted when he was 18.
For more paintings in the permanent collection, click here.
I hope the whistle stop tour of the afternoon gives an idea of what a fabulous time we had thanks to the generosity of the Friends of Victoria Art Gallery.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Lunchtime talk on Artist and Model exhibition

Or to give the new exhibition in the main gallery its full title:
Artist and Model:Portriats, Self Portraits and Figure Studies form the Swindon Collection.
Last Friday's FREE lunchtime talk by Curator Sophie Cummings gave us an insight into the paintings and drawings selected for this wonderful exhibition.
Here are a few of the works I particularly like from the exhibition that Sophie talked about:
 Above 'Self Portrait with Juliet' 1979 by John Bellany
 Above ''Leon Kossoff with a 'Landscape near Rieti' by John Lessore 1939
 Above 'Self Portrait, Scratching' by William Orpen 1919. There was much discussion about this pen and ink drawing. What's he doing? Have a look and read what he says and see what you think.
 Above 'Nude with Poppies' by Vanessa Bell back in the gallery after a long time visiting other galleries.
 Above and below works by Leslie Cole. There's a very interesting story behind Lelsey Cole's wife told in one of the panels on the wall.
Sophie has increased information in the panels alongside the paintings, they certainly do help give insights for those who didn't attend the talk.
Next lunchtime talks which start at 12.30pm take place as follows:
5 April on the exhibition 'Out of the Box'
26 April on the exhibition 'An Art of the People' with co curator Mike Yates

Ken White and Andy Binks in Conversation

Our March talk proved so popular that it sold out weeks before the event took place. It was a rerun of the life of Ken White first staged at Christ Church on 8 June last year. I went to the talk on 8 June, and was so impressed and keen that it should be shown to the Friends that I asked Andy Binks and Ken White if they would bring it to Swindon MAG. It was agreed they would do so, and the earliest date we could accommodate them was the end of March. Historian Andy Binks has long associations with Swindon including The Swindon Society and the sadly now defunct Swindon Heritage magazine and many more things. Most importantly, Andy and Ken make a wonderful duo, telling the story of Ken's childhood, through to working at GWR, art school, London, murals and much much more. I loved the talk as much the second time as the first.
I took some photos of the screen as a reminder of the evening, there are lots, but I have left out more than I've included I'm sure, they do give an idea of the evening. This first photo was taken at the beginning of the evening, Ken on the left, Andy on the right:
And onto the slides, I have photographed a few, there were many more
 Love this quote from Ken
 We were shown a few childhood photos of Ken and his brother Mike, seen on the left in the photo below

 Onto Ken's time in the boiler shop at the GWR Works
 A couple of Ken's paintings depicting rivet hotting
 and from there onto becoming a sign writer where work was quiet and relaxed
 and then onto Swindon College where Ken studied art
 one of his lecturers was Kenneth Lindley who moved from Swindon to Hereford Art College where he was Principal
After art college, Ken moved to London where he painted the Beatles portraits, a picture still in his possession
 and copied by someone else for an album cover

 The murals were a feature of Swindon life, and much loved by us all
 Ken was also commissioned to paint murals in other places
 and also painted local scenes of Swindon life, here's one of the backsies
 and a haunting one of the much loved diving platform at Coate Water
Angela Atkinson has written a fabulous piece on the diving platform
Ken was spotted by Richard Branson and worked for him for many years. Above is a photo of the 'Scarlet Lady' and below portraits of musicians used by Virgin shops.
Below is a photo of a mural painted by the outdoor pool in Highworth, sadly no longer there.
That's a very brief summary of the talk last Thursday evening.
There will be two more talks during Ken's exhibition in the small gallery at Swindon MAG which runs from 17 September until 30 November, these will be held on 28 and 29 November. Tickets are not on sale yet.