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Thursday, 24 March 2016

Our Very Special Visit to the Royal Academy

It all began with an email from Meryl Ainslie inviting the Friends to visit Eileen Cooper RA in her studio when she said:

'I have spoken to Eileen Cooper RA and she would be delighted to welcome the Friends of Swindon Museum and Gallery to visit her studio at the Royal Academy and the RA Keepers House on Tuesday 22 March 2016

Eileen has offered to show you her studio in the Keepers House and talk about the RA schools and her role as Keeper of the Royal Academy.

She is keen for you to have a very special visit and has kindly offered to organise tickets for one of the current RA exhibitions for those who are not already members of the RA. There are two fantastic shows to consider. 

In the Age of Giorgione
12 March — 5 June 2016

Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse
30 January — 20 April 2016'
What an opportunity! We booked a coach and quickly filled the 30 places for the studio visit, and then took a few more people who were keen to visit the RA..
The day of the visit dawned bright and sunny with fabulous blue skies, 34 of us boarded the coach in Old Town at 9.15am, and as the coach sped along the M4, we imagined we might be at the Royal Academy in 2 hours, however the last mile proved very slow with a broken down car with steam issuing from it in a tunnel, and then various other hindrances like removal vans, meant we arrived about noon. We were given passes to the fabulous private 'Academicians' Room' and to the Gorgione exhibition, so a few of us headed straight up to have refreshments up there:
 It's a lovely space, a bit like a huge lavishly furnished very comfortable living room with amazing ceramics behind the bar. I could have stayed there all afternoon, but there were other things to see. If you click on the link, you can see it's meant to look like a lavish living room!!
 I'm a lover of tree ferns, so was very impressed by the RA tree ferns seen from the stairs up to the Academicians' Room

From there we went for a preliminary look at 'Painting the Modern Garden' before heading to Eileen Cooper's studio at 1.30pm. It's a huge and very popular exhibition with some wonderful paintings on show; paintings that take your breathe away.
And so to the studio where I took some photos of Eileen Cooper talking to us
and some of the audience which included two of our Friends who live in London and were thrilled to be able to join us for the day. It was lovely to meet them, and I'm hoping they can come to more of our events.
Another one of the audience looking completely rapt and full of admiration for Eileen Cooper as she described her journey from schoolgirl who loved art, and was directed towards hairdressing, but fortunately swerved away from that and went to art school. Since then she has painted all her life by organising her time carefully and included a teaching career and motherhood in between producing her own work. It's not surprising when you meet her and hear her talking that Eileen Cooper is the first woman Keeper of the Royal Academy since it began in 1768
I included the photo below because it shows the trolley with painting paraphernalia.
I asked Eileen if it would be alright to take photos of her work, and she said 'Yes' so here are some of the glorious works in the studio:

  The paintings are great to look at and a great taster for the 'Hide and Seek' exhibition coming to Swindon on Wednesday 19th of April. You will also get chance to hear Eileen Cooper talking on Thursday 12th of May, and find out why she has a great affection for the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.

It was a fabulous day out, one we'll remember, thanks go to Eileen Cooper and Meryl Ainslie and lots of others behind the scenes who helped the day happen.

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