Become a Friend of the Swindon Museumand Art Gallery

For only £15 a year, you can become a Friend and receive links to our Zoom talks. To become a Friend or find out more about us, go to the website

Saturday, 30 July 2016

This Month, a Q&A with HEVD and in October a Wine Tasting

In addition to the events listed on our flyer, we are having a question and answer session with Hadrian Ellory-van Dekker, recently appointed Director and Chief Executive of Swindon Museum and  Art Gallery Trust on Thursday 25 August starting at 7.30pm. Tickets £5, raising funds for the restoration of 2 paintings. On sale to Friends only until a week before the event. Drinks and nibbles and a raffle.
Our second extra event is a wine tasting at Magnum in Wood Street on Thursday 6 October starting at 7pm.
Tickets available from the museum, and several members of the Friends' committee.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

An Audience with Fenella Elms

We were fortunate enough for our July talk to have ceramicist Fenella Elms in conversation with our Curator, Sophie Cummings. Many people will be familiar with The Flow Pot, acquired last year, in addition to 'flows', Fenella also makes ceramic edges and ceramic sculptures. It was really good that Fenella brought in for us a selection of her work and displayed it in chronological order; it was so refreshing to see what was being discussed. Fenella is very enthusiastic about her work, and working with clay which she enjoyed in the sixth form, and then was sidetracked into a career in psychotherapy, working in London and then in Swindon where she discovered the wonderful Swindon College ceramics course, and then was seduced by the art of making fabulous structures.
I took lots of photographs, and have taken ages to post this because I've found it hard to weed any out, we had microphone problems, so you may see a microphone being held in the photos.
 Above and below, Fenella and Sophie began by chatting about Fenella's early life and influences
 It didn't take long for Fenella and Sophie to begin looking at the pieces, Fenella is talking about the ceramic sculpture for the 'From Where I'm Standing' exhibition which opens on September 21st and  celebrates the connections and contrasts between modern art and contemporary ceramics.
 The piece Fenella used from the collection to respond to was The Peter Simpson Pot seen below:
and here's a close up of her piece:
From there Fenella went back to talk about the first piece she made, it's lots of skeletal type pieces joined together
 seen below:
 and then onto an 'edge' piece mounted in a frame

 another thin piece:

 and the piece on a stand in a Perspex frame showed how her pieces could be presented

 From there Fenella showed how her pieces looked when held up

 Sophie asked a question about a piece and Fenella went onto talk about the edging to it.

 Below you can see a framed sculpture, the piece for the 'From Where I'm Standing' exhibition and the Peter Simpson Pot in between them

 Talking here about how ot get the bubbles out of Perspex when sculptures are encased.
 And here's the fabulous Flow Pot, at the moment in one of the ceramic cases in the main gallery:
 I would like to thank Fenella Elms for coming along and sharing so much interesting information with us last Thursday, and to Sophie Cummings for such a lovely in conversation style. Looking forward to the 'From Where I'm Standing Exhibition' .

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Trip to Pallant House Gallery

I love Pallant House Gallery and when planning our trips programme for 2016, it was one of the places I was keen to visit with the Friends. The fact there was going to be a Christopher Wood exhibition from 2 July-2 October gave us the perfect reason to visit, you will remember we have 'Still Life with Boats, St.Ives' by him in our Collection:
 The journey to Chichester was easily accomplished, and our walk through the Bishop's Palace Gardens to the Pallant House was wonderful with everything flowering in glorious splendour. We were welcomed by gallery staff and Mark Golder who gave us a background talk on the Pallant, and then had lunch in the courtyard of the cafe before our talk on the Christopher Wood exhibition at 2pm. Laura Ford is exhibiting two versions of  'Espaliered Woman' in the courtyard
 And here we are below in the first room of the Christopher Wood exhibition, with Michaela Cranmer explaining the various influences on Christopher Wood and examples of his various painting styles under these influences. Photography of paintings isn't allowed, but you can see on the right hand side rear wall, an example of Van Gogh's influence in a painting of blue irises.
 You can just about see the self portrait on the back wall here, he painted this in 1927, the Harlequin pattern makes a direct reference to the theatre and apparently shows Wood promoting himself as an artist.
 Here we are again, this time beside the large painting of a woman depicted very plainly.
 In the final room, we see some of the 40 paintings he did before his untimely death at the age of 29 in 1930, at Salisbury station.
 This talk was followed by a talk by collector and donor Mark Golder's exhibition of Contemporary Abstract Prints: The Golder - Thompson Gift in Room 17. Mark talked about his favourite prints in the room, followed by Brian Thompson talking about his, and their reasons for liking them so much. This was a real treat, and insight into 'What's good about this'.
As always there was lots more to see, so before leaving, I made sure I took a photo of the Lothar Gotz: Composition for a Staircase. Reading what he says about working on the staircase mural he says 'With site specific commissions, there is always a brief, which I try to ignore if possible..'
 There's also The Bishop Otter Art Collection: A Celebration exhibition in other rooms.
And the permanent collection which includes furniture as well as paintings:

 Below is a Shell Vase, made in 1958 by James Tower beautifully displayed on a piece of furniture.
 I didn't manage to see the Friedrich Nagler exhibition in the De'Longhi Print Room.
The bookshop was fabulous as always.
 And here's one last view of the Queen Anne part of Pallant House Gallery, shortage of space there was solved 10 years ago by building an extension, also in brick. A wonderful day out.

Lunchtime Talk by Sophie Cummings

These FREE lunchtime talks given by Curator Sophie Cummings are very popular, and the latest on held on Friday 1 July 12.30-1.00pm on the current exhibition 'Hide and Seek' featuring drawings by Eileen Cooper RA was no exception.
We were given some background to the artist and focused on various of her drawings which span 40 years, including the very important purchase made for the museum of Eileen Cooper's huge Charcoal and conte drawing entitled 'Separate Ways' in 1994, shown with it's partner piece for the first time since then. The themes of relationships, motherhood and bringing up children will be familiar to many of us.
 Below Sophie is talking about the athleticism displayed by some of the figures, and also how somehow Eileen Cooper gets the whole of the figure into the picture!
 Sophie spent some time talking about the drawings Eileen Cooper had selected from the Swindon Collection, with a focus on this wall on motherhood
 and on this wall, women
 I looked at this picture differently after Sophie had talked about it.
There are more talks scheduled on these dates, all take place from 12.30-1.00pm
Sat 30 July 'Drawings of Eileen Cooper RA'
Friday 19 August Introduction to 'Hide and Seek'
Friday 14 October Introduction to 'From Where I'm Standing'
Friday 11 November Introduction to 'Still Life'
9 December Introduction to the current exhibition.
For more information, please visit the website

John Singer-Sargent: The Aesthete

This extremely popular talk was given by Dr Liz Renes, an enthusiast on the subject of  John Singer-Sargent. Here she is getting her microphone sorted out:
 I didn't take photos during the talk, so I saved a couple of photos of paintings saved from the internet, they are very poor quality so can't be enlarged, the first is of 'Madame X' painted in 1884 which caused rather a stir when it was shown because of the woman's confident demeanor.
 This was followed two years later by 'Carnation, Lily, Lily,Rose' using a more Impressionist style, and painted only at dusk when the light was just right.
After the talk, there followed a lively set of questions about JSS.
We are very grateful to Liz for the in depth talk.
We also launched the latest guide to the Swindon Collection that night:
It's a great book, available from the gift shop at the Museum for £5, and £4 to Friends.