Become a Friend of the Swindon Museumand Art Gallery

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, 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.

Private View of the New Exhibitions in the Gallery

Swindon Museum and Art Gallery hosted 3 events last week which I'll cover in the blog via separate posts, to find out more information about what's going on at the museum, please click on the link to their website.
The first event was the private view of the opening of the Artist and Model exhibition in the main gallery and the exhibition of David Bent's work in the smaller gallery on the right as you enter the main gallery.
It was a wonderful evening attended by lots of people, here are some photos, I took that night:
 Above and below general views
 Lots of chatting going on
 Some familiar faces even with the poor quality photos
 There were speeches part way through the evening form Curator Sophie Cummings and artist David Bent
 I moved around and got a photo of Sophie in between the crowds, also in the picture you can see the Mayor Cllr Junab Ali in front of me
 And a photo of David Bent talking, with Matt Holland in the foreground
 Information about the 4 main exhibitions, taken from the museum's website, currently running at the moment appears below.
Artist and Model:Portraits, Self- Portraits and Figure Studies from the Swindon Collection
The relationship between artist and model is one of the most powerful dynamics in art. This exhibition explores that relationship through a series of portraits and figure studies, examining both artist and sitter. As well as celebrating the ability of the artist to capture their sitter, this exhibition will reconsider the importance of the sitter as muse, inspiration, antagonist and confidante.
The exhibition includes paintings, drawings and prints by Frank Auerbach, John Bellany, Gwen John and RB Kitaj
Out of the Box: An exhibition of Paintings by David Bent
This exhibition brings together a diverse selection of paintings by the artist David Bent. It includes geometric landscapes, intricate photographic collages, and paintings which tackle major contemporary social issues.
Bent is rightly well known for his ‘art of flight’ paintings and prints, which have been described as “transforming aviation art” and led to Bent being awarded Honorary Companionship of the Royal Aeronautical Society. The exhibition will include examples of his bold and engaging aviation art.
The exhibition also includes elements of his series “Movement 2000”, which explores the major social challenges facing the world at the start of the third millennium. Bent’s art combines dramatic and inventive compositions, a bold use of colour, and a passion for the subject. This exhibition is an opportunity to explore more work by this fascinating Swindon-based artist.
An Art of the People
This special exhibition celebrates our two local potteries, Cricklade and Ramsbury. For many years, Ivan and Kay Martin at Cricklade, and Peter Holdsworth at Ramsbury, oversaw potteries that were innovative, authentic, practical and commercially influential. This exhibition explores their ethos and impact and includes ceramics and photographs from Swindon Museum and Art Gallery and from private collections.
This exhibition is co-curated with Mike Yates, author of recent guides to both potteries.
  Animals:Seven Swindon Stories
Explore Swindon’s history through the lives of seven of the town’s most famous animal inhabitants. From Mr Heginbotham’s snails and Eastcott’s cricket infestation, discover the stories of Swindon’s famous animals for yourself.
There will be a special focus on Bruce the Collecting Dog, the canine hero who raised thousands of pounds for local orphans, the Victoria Hospital and survivors of the Titanic disaster. Bruce wore a special collecting box on his back and barked a thank you for any coins he was given. You can see Bruce’s collecting box, as well as photos of Swindon’s hero dog.
This exhibition features photographs, paintings and objects from Swindon’s collections, including examples from our extensive natural history collection. There will be activities for younger visitors, too!