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Monday 29 February 2016

Grayson Perry's Perfume Bottle and Stoppers

Sophie Cummings, Curator at the museum and art gallery, gives regular free lunchtime talks between 12.30-1pm. These have become increasingly popular, and last Friday's talk was no exception, there were about 22 people at Friday's talk on the recently acquired early Grayson Perry perfume bottle with a range of stoppers. The first photo shows some of the crowd.
 Sophie as ever had researched Grayson Perry's career with entertaining features, like the reasons for giving the name Grayson to a child born in 1960, and the fact his father was a wrestler in the evenings. I have tried to photograph the perfume bottle on previous ocassions:
 the stoppers don't come out well either
And from the other side taken during the Craigie exhibition.
After the talk, it's good to be able to ask questions, someone asked why add a Grayson Perry to the collection? Sophie felt it was good to have an example of his work because he is a good communicator and produces some very interesting work. Why the early work? Well that's easy, his later works now fetch upwards of £100k
Details of the talks appear on the website: and on this flyer:

Sunday 28 February 2016

Michael Gray's Talk on Brightwen Binyon

Michael Gray talked about Brightwen Binyon to an audience of about 37. I didn't take notes, and because the chairs in front of the screen were all taken, I was unable to take any decent photos. I'll put up some of the photos I already have.
What impressed me about Binyon was his output in terms of building commissions he received, and executed. Based in Ipswich, he became known in Swindon as someone who could design schools, so his services were required there first of all, then he was used when the Mechanics Institute needed remodelling; £14000 was spent on that, compared to £9000 available a bit later on when a Town Hall was required. Our Town Hall has an out of proportion, elongated tower on it because it needed to be higher than the tower on the Corn Exchange.
If you compare it to the original plans, you can see the shorter, stockier tower
Michael included a lot of interesting historical detail about how the country was changing in the later 1880s, people were spending money on luxurious buildings in seaside resorts like Felkixstowe, Binyon designed Seaside Villas, still standing today in 1888:
They are a pair of semis built on a grand style.
He also became involved in some interior decoration, and designed this lovely wallpaper:
Amazingly enough Binyon fitted this amazing output into a comparatively short life, he died aged 59 in 1905 leaving a fabulous legacy of his buildings behind him.
Michael then answered a few questions relating to the demolition of buildings like these across the country in the 1970s when they were no longer appreciated quite so much.
Thoughts of course turned to what sort of building would be suitable for our new museum and art gallery in the Cultural Quarter of Swindon beside the Wyvern Theatre.
I did manage quite a good photo of Michael at the beginning of his talk:

We are fortunate to have Michael's architectural expertise, and now as  member of the Friends we can see even more of him!
Also we are hoping to have a larger screen, it was pointed out that this one is far too small.

Thursday 18 February 2016

Brightwen Binyon's List of Works

Michael Gray RIBA, is giving the next talk to the Friends this Thursday at 7.30pm in the gallery part of the museum on architect Brightwen Binyon, so I thought I'd look up more information to advertise the talk and came up with these buildings he designed.
Quite a list, 5 in Swindon, although the mechanics was an addition rather than a whole building.
Finding good photographs of these buildings is quite difficult, here's Queenstown School:

List of Works

  • 1875 Wallpaper design (now in Victoria and Albert Museum).[14]
  • 1875 – Burlington Road Baptist Church, Ipswich .[15]
  • 1872 – The Grove, Stanmore, re-modelling in half-timber style. The home of Naturlaist Eliza Brightwen.[16]
  • 1879 – Bank Premises, Sudbury, Suffolk [17]
  • 1880 – Thistleton Hall, Suffolk [17]
  • 1881 – Sanford Street Boys’ School, Swindon, Wiltshire[18]
  • 1881 Church Lodge,(No 1 Uxbridge Road), Stanmore [19]
  • 1878 – Municipal Buildings, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk [17]
  • 1879 – Ipswich Post Office, Suffolk [17]
  • 1879 – Ipswich School of Art [17]
  • 1879 – Queenstown school Swindon (closed 1990/demolished in 1993)[20]
  • 1879-1881 – Gilberts Hill, Dixon Street, Swindon [21]
  • 1881 - Yarra Primary School, Richmond, Victoria, Australia[22]
  • 1882 – Ipswich Corn Exchange & Shops, Suffolk [23]
  • 1882-1883 – Hill House, Ipswich[24]
  • 1886 – Public Library & Museum, Folkestone, Kent [17]
  • 1888 – Seaside Villas, Felixstowe, Suffolk [17]
  • 1888-1891 – Enlargement of Stanmore Hall for William Knox D'Arcy.[16][19]
  • 1890 – Sunderland Town Hall (later demolished in 1971)[25]
  • 1890 – Swindon Town Hall (Grade II listed building) Town Hall, Regent Circus[26]
  • 1890 - Nethaniah Almshouse, Over Stoke[27]
  • 1892-1893 The Mechanics Institute, Emlyn Square, Swindon, (Considerably enlarged) [28]
  • 1893 – New Public Library, Colchester[29]
  • 1893 – Warehouse, North Street, Colchester [30]
  • 1895 – Granary, Hythe Quay, Colchester [30]
  • 1896 – The Elizabeth Barrett Browning Institute, Ledbury[31] 

Friday 12 February 2016

Really Popular Lunchtime Talk Today

Sophie Cummings has been giving free Friday lunchtime talks for some time now, they are really enjoyable and gaining increasingly large audiences. I think 18 people attended today. Sophie gave a short introduction to the Swindon Collection and then picked out a few paintings and discussed them, bringing out features I wouldn't notice without prompting.
 Below looking at the Nevison
 And finally the Bomberg 'The South East Corner, Jerusalem'
 Next talk is in 2 weeks time, 26 February about Grayson Perry's perfume bottle. Try and be there.