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Sunday, 11 November 2012

'Drawing a Line in Space' the second of Mike Yates' Talks on Friday 9th November at 12.15pm

Mike started by showing us some pieces of pottery from his collection made at 2 local potteries- Cricklade Pottery and Ramsbury Pottery.
He has written excellent articles about both potteries- Cricklade Pottery in the Spring 2011 Journal and Ramsbury in the Winter 2011 Journal.
They are well worth reading to find out more about the legacy of these old potteries.
Here are photographs of Mike's pots:
First the Ramsbury ones:

And below some of the Cricklade pottery pots:

There are currently 25 pots on display in Cricklade Museum at 16, Calcutt Street, Cricklade.
Mike also quoted Bernard Leach: 'Very few people in this country think of making pottery as art'.
And Paul Gaugin: 'Pottery is a central art'.
Mike talked about the pots he had selected from the 100 fabulous pieces in the Swindon Collection, and encouraged the audience to engage with the finer points of the pots, particularly those made by Lucie Rie.
He is a very persuasive speaker, and certainly brings studio ceramics alive.

Next talks: Unlocking your House's Hidden History' Thursday November 15th 6pm - 7pm

'History of Swindon Viewpoint' 30th November 7.30pm( A Friends Talk)

'Blast from the Past' Thursday 6th December 6pm-8pm

Monday, 29 October 2012

Smashing Pots - a really inspiring talk by Mike Yates

Paul Ricketts, chair of the Friends sent a brilliantly worded email to encourage people to attend this talk by Mike Yates which I'll include at the end of my piece, because he knows a lot about the collections, and it makes a good summary.
Mike started by giving us a short history of the making of pots, then talked a bit about his favourite potters of the 20th Century and finished by talking about his favourite ceramic pieces he'd put on display in the display cases, and then showed us a video featuring Jim Malone who has an exhibition at the Oxford Ceramics Gallery, 29, Walton Street from 10th- 25th November

I'll include photos of the pieces I particularly liked, but first, a view of people looking at the ceramics after the talk:

 'The Pear'  2003 by Mo Jupp b. 1938, porcelain and stoneware plinth
 'Victorian House' 1977 by Ian Beamish, white earthenware
 'Spade Vase' Hans Coper 1920-81, stoneware
 Bowl by Janice Tchalenko. b. 1942, stoneware
 'Large earthenware pot' Fiona Salazar b. 1949

The pot on the left is by Jim Malone and the one on the right is  one of Aki Moriuchi's pots.
In front of the pots is the cover of the Jim Malone DVD.
And finally, while Mike was talking, Paul was making his own rather artistic display:

If you missed this talk, or would like to hear Mike Yates talking about 'Drawing a Line in Space', introducing us to some of the masterpieces of British Studio Pottery to be found in the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery's collection, come along to the Museum on the 9th of November at 12.30pm-1.15pm

A Friends of Swindon Museum talk
Friday 26th October 7.30 pm
Swindon Museum & Art Gallery, Bath Road, Old Town, Swindon, Wilts SN1 4BA

Fine Art Ceramics have long been the Cinderella of our culture - nobody has been sure if they are art or just a craft.  But since Grayson Perry won the Turner Prize in 2003 awareness of ceramics as art has been growing nationwide, but has that awareness stretched as far as the world class collection of ceramics hidden away in Old Town, Swindon. Many people are now aware of the Swindon Collection of Art and how it is one of the foremost collections of 20th century British Art in the country.  Now is more than time to start bragging about our collection of ceramics with key pieces by such great potters as Lucie Rie, Hans Coper, Ivan Martin and Katherine Pleydell Bouverie.

Mike Yates will talk about Swindon ’s hidden gem and how the ceramics collection needs to be talked of as art just as much as the paintings on the walls. His talk will incorporate an introduction to 20th Century Studio Pottery and possibly will explain why so many of the great potters lived and worked so close to Swindon in the Cotswolds.  The talk will be followed with a film on the craft of pot making by potter,Jim Malone.

This is the first of two linked talks by Mike Yates, the second (‘Drawing a Line in Space’) is being run by Swindon Museum & Art Gallery at 12.30pm on Friday November 9th.  Mike is a retired journalist with a passionate interest in studio ceramics and who recently hosted an exhibition of African art and carvings at Artsite in Theatre Square, Swindon. The works in the collection were mostly acquired during the 1970s and 1980s on a budget of the thinnest of shoestrings, with the additional support provided by the MGC/V&AGrant in Aid fund and the Contemporary Art Society. The quality of the collection would not have been possible without the exceptional perception and dedication of Peter Burgess from Swindon College, who acted as the collection’s advisor.

“The Swindon Collection, therefore, gives us a microcosm, as it were, of the great diversity and richness of twentieth century studio ceramics, ranging from the utilitarian and functional to the conceptual and sculptural, the clay and its possibilities being explored to the full and the only limits being the imagination and skill of each individual ceramist”
Barbara Kent (from the introduction to the Swindon Ceramics catalogue)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Two Autumn Season Talks not to be MIssed - Smashing pots by Mike Yates on Friday the 26th of October at 7.30pm

Mike Yates will talk about Swindon's magnificent collection of fine art ceramics on Friday the 26th of October at 7.30pm.
Followed by a film on the craft of pot making by Jim Malone.
All welcome, don't miss this brilliant opportunity to hear Mike Yates' talk.

Another date for your diary is the 30th of November at 7.30pm when Hannah Parry will talk about the history of Swindon Viewpoint.
I'm looking forward to seeing the original photo enlarged as well as finding out more about this ground breaking organisation.
Phone the museum on 01793 466556 for info on tickets and access.
Tickets in advance or on the night: £4.50 or £3.50 for members of the Friends.
50p off per ticket for buying 3+ tickets.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Denys Hodson's Talk and Britain From Above

Denys was concerned that giving his third talk in recent times, he would be repeating himself, but he succeeded in captivating his audience once more.

He gave an overview to the gallery, commenting that hangs need to be changed regularly , and this one had overstayed it's welcome. The faulty labelling was one aspect he mentioned, labels should be capable of being read, these being underneath are not. To find any painting recently catalogued, including our Swindon Collection, you can go to:
Denys commented on the fact that the Swindon collection is missing a painting by Sickert, although there is one of his pupils, Sylvia Goss in the collection.
I had not appreciated these two paintings before:
 'Still Life with Boats, St. Ives' Christopher Wood
'Winter in Pendlebury' LS Lowry
More information on both these paintings can be found in the book 'The Swindon Collectionof Twentieth Century British Art' first published in 1991 by Thamesdown Borough Council ISBN 1 871853 02 8

Fast forward to the evening talk by Sandra Brauer of English Heritage, she is the activities officer for the project which is cataloguing 1.2 million images bought in 2007 taken between 1919 and 2006.
It's a fascinating project, to find out more, visit:
Next talk: 'Smashing pots' by Mike Yates 26th of October at 7.30pm

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Two Events at the Museum and Art Gallery on the 12th of October

The lunch time talk by Denys Hodson, 'An Introduction to the Swindon Collection' is a not to be missed event.
Denys will provide a fascinating insight into both the works on display, how they were acquired and will answer questions.
It runs from 12.30pm -1.15pm

Later on, at 7.30pm, we are holding the AGM of the Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery. The evening starts with a free talk given by Sandra Brauer, English Heritage's Activity officer for England on 'England from Above'

Everyone is welcome, hope to see you there.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Kind Donation of a Portrait of Ruby Mutter by Hubert Cook

The portrait of Ruby by Hubert Cook was painted when she was 24 years of age in 1936. It was in the possession of her son, Brian Goddard who kindly donated to the Museum and Art Gallery.
He came to Swindon with his wife to donate the painting on Wednesday the 27th of June, a few of the Friends had assembled with Emma Cook to welcome them.
Here is a photograph of the painting:
 And a couple of photographs of the hand over:
Paul unwrapping the painting.

And above posing for a photograph being taken by Richard Wintle, on the left is Brian Goddard, on the right Emma Cook and Paul Ricketts. is Richard's website, the link to get right to the photographs taken by Richard:

Hubert Cook 1901-1966 was born in Wroughton and worked as a machinist in the Swindon Railway Works until 1944.
He was best known for his lithographs which were purchased by the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the War Artists Advisory Committee.
I took some photographs of some of the lithographs displayed for Mr Goddard to see.
 'Lifting a Heat from the Boiler Shop Furnace' 1945 lithograph print 4 of 7
 'Sawing White Hot Metal - Swindon GWR Rolling Mills ' 1939 lithograph print 3 of 10
'Unloading at a Railway Siding' Lithograph print 3 of 6.
'Roger's Lido, Knaresborough' 1945 Oil on board. This work was painted while Hubert Cook was when he was with the Ministry of Aircraft Production in Yorkshire.
Isn't it amazing how well some things are kept? The above poster was for an exhibition  of paintings and drawings by Hubert Cook at the Arts Centre in Regent Street.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Rosa Mathieson's talk on 'Women in the Railway' on Friday the 22nd of June

Rosa gave a real insight into life in the GWR works and life in general in the 1930, 40s and 50s. What was so interesting was that she showed many photographs of people who she had interviewed and knew personally.
It left me realising how little I know about people's actual lives in those days.
As a woman, I have been very conscious that History is usually just as it sounds, with an 's' missing.
I took a few photographs, here is one of a group of women:

And here's Rosa closing the computer down:
And people mingling, looking at the exhibition and heading for the wine:
Rosa also had copies of her book produced for the Book Project which aims to raise funds to help women in Nepal to help them selves.
Here's the cover of this fascinating book:
Stop Press:
There may be a trip in September to Chiswick House, there's a quiz on the 28th of September, Mike Yates will talk on 'Smashing Pots' on the 26th of October and John Farrow will talk about 'Ashdown House' on the 30th of November.
A proper flyer coming soon.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Visit to Kelmscott on the 31st of May

We met up at 10am at Kelmscott Manor for a talk and guided tour.
I knew this was going to be a truly fabulous day out, and so it proved to be, if you were there, you experienced it, and if you weren't, you missed a wonderful experience, try and go on the next trip.
Kelmscott Manor was the country home of William Morris - poet, craftsman and socialist from 1871 until his death in 1896.
The house contains a collection of the possessions and works of William Morris and his associates, including furniture, textiles, carpets and ceramics.
We were divided into 2 groups and given a guided tour of the house which lasted over an hour by a very knowledgeable guide.
What were the highlights for me?
Making the connection between Morris's liking of Isnik pottery and his use of colour and floral designs. I bought a plate from the shop which has a typical Isnik design from about 1550. It's shown below, it's gorgeous and is a joy to look at each day.

Other highlights were Morris's bed with embroideries by Jane and May Morris and the wallpaper designed by Morris on many of the walls.
 The television programme shown on Tuesday the 12th of June 'All in the Best Possible Taste With Grayson Perry' looked at the middle classes, William Morris's 'Willow Pattern' wallpaper in Tunbridge Wells was cited as the height of good taste.
We were not allowed to take photographs of the inside of the house, but I think I made up for the lack of interior images with some from outside the house.
Here we are gathering outside the front of the house. You might just be able to see Paul taking photos.
 What a brilliant idea for a covered walkway to a door.
And what a lovely place to sit.
Imagine having the Thames along one of the garden boundaries.
After the rigours of the morning, a pub lunch was called for at the pub down the road, the Plough.
To find out more about visiting Kelmscott Manor, please visit the website at:
To find out about 'A Walk Round the Gallery with Denys Hodson on the 30th of April' please visit:
Here's one of many photograph taken for that entry:
'Nonny' by R. Ossory Dunlop 1933-34, this is one of my favourite paintings in the exhibition.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Rosa Mathieson's Talk on Women in the Railway on Friday 27th April Postponed

Apologies for the late notice, but the talk advertised widely has been postponed until Friday June 22nd at 7.30pm.
Notices have been placed in the local paper and people have been telephoned, I do hope no one makes the trip out on Friday night, but I will be there to inform people about the cancellation.

A couple of my favourite photographs from a recent trip to Barcelona.
The top one is stained glass in a bay window, and the lower one is decoration on a piece of furniture in the Museu Del Modernisme Catala,

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Parliament's Pictures: an insider's guide to the Parliamentary Art Collection

This talk by Melanie Unwin who is the Deputy Curator of the Westminster Collection gave a real insight into some of the art work kept there.
Particularly fascinating was information about people touching  Winston Churchill's foot for luck, a practice which had to be discouraged because the statue was eroding away.
Here are two portraits Melanie showed us which I particularly liked. Below Tony Blair at the end of his term in office.
 And here is a wonderful portrait of Baroness Amos

Here's a photo of the audience at the talk, and below a copy of Tim Carroll's sketch book from almost the same viewpoint.

It's possible for a member of the public to see the collection by approaching their MP.
To see more, have a look at the website:

Next talk is by Denys Hodson on the 30th April from 2.30-3.30pm

Saturday, 10 March 2012

NEXT EVENT Friday 30 March 2012

In the second of this years series of events we welcome Melanie Unwin from the Palace of Westminster.  
Melanie is a knowledgable and enthusiastic speaker and will make it a great evening.
Proceeds as always to the Museums purchase fund.

30th March 7.30 pm
‘Parliament’s Pictures:
an insider’s guide to the
Parliamentary Art Collection’
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Bath Road
Ticket Price £4.50 (£3.50 for Friends of SMAG) available on the night or in advance from the Museum.

A talk by Melanie Unwin, Deputy Curator Palace of
Westminster Collection will talk about one of the largest
collections of publicly owned art in the United Kingdom
with items that have been acquired at all stages of
Parliament’s existence. She will take you on a tour of
Parliament’s works of art, which includes historic and
contemporary paintings, sculpture, works on paper,
textiles and 3-D objects, and give an insight to its care
and management’.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Visit to the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre on Friday 24th February at 2pm

About 10 members of the Friends gathered at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre last Friday to have an informative guided tour.
What an amazing place it is; situated five minutes walk from the station in Chippenham, the History Centre is a gem.
It's literally a fabulous building, it cost 11 million to build, the same amount as our Central Library in Swindon has state of the art facilities, whether you are interested in researching family history, finding out more about the local area having relics analysed, or reading an old back copy of the Wilts and Herald Gazette.
Here's the notice board outside.
A close up of a Sarsen stone and a photo showing it in the context of the outside of the building.
We were given a very interesting insight into how old books and paper are restored, the oldest we saw was from the 14th Century. The artefact photographed above is a delightful seal, part of which was missing and has now been added very sympathetically.

And here below, photographed through
venetian blinds is the Highworth pot.
Above is an attempt at a photo of the etched horse that appears on every window on the outside of the building.
 And finally on the way back to the station, I took a photograph of the tree in the middle of the main road. Traffic passes on either side of the tree, that's not very clear from the photo, I needed to get two cars going in opposite directions.
 If you missed this trip, have a look on the website below to find out more, and treat yourself to a short trip on the train to get there.