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Friday, 28 October 2016

Conservation of the Kate Tryon Paintings

There's always a buzz around the museum these days, but this week there's been even more of a buzz than usual, with the 35 Kate Tryon paintings being restored, and also the Big Draw, run by Artsite, was held there on Wednesday.
I've seen Kate Tryon's paintings in the Richard Jefferies Museum at Coate, but didn't realise there were 35 in the Collection, and had no idea what restorers would do to a painting.
They have attempted to clean the surfaces of the paintings, difficult if egg has been used because it dulls the paint. They are taking them all out of their frames, and sitting them on black velvet cord to prevent the glass sitting right against them.
 There are three people working on the conservation
 on three tables
 each one having a slightly different job.
I mentioned the free Friday lunchtime talk, and they said they would save us some swabs they had used for cleaning the paintings. This reminded me of the time we had a talk on restoring a Rembrandt, we were sent photos of dirty swabs to advertise the talk.
I also took photos of the paintings waiting to be dealt with:
 Above a painting of the manor house on Dayhouse Lane

 As you can see, Kate Tryon depicted the age, including the overflowing flower borders.

 The one above is gloriously floriferous.
I'm not sure what stage the conservation will be at by 12.30pm today, 28 October, but find out more by visiting the gallery for the free lunchtime talk.

Alun Graves in conversation with Sarah Purvey, Jo Taylor and Claire Loder

This in conversation was held on Tuesday 18th October from 7-8pm. We were very fortunate to have Alun Graves, Senior Curator of Ceramics at the V&A Museum. the Curator of Alison Britton: Content and Form at the V&A and has written essays on Edmund de Waal and Jennifer Lee. He was  in conversation with the ceramic artists Sarah Purvey, Jo Taylor and Claire Loder, whose work features in ‘From Where I’m Standing: Contemporary Ceramics and the Swindon Collection’. They will discussed their techniques, influences and the growing profile of contemporary ceramics, and although she escaped being photographed in the group photo above, Curator Sophie Cummings was also engaged in the conversations, and can be seen here on the left introducing everyone:
 Below Claire Loder talking about her work:
 And Jo Taylor talking about her work. Jo passed round samples of the pieces included in her work, they were very light and made the most amazing tinkly sound when they touched each other.
 Below Alun Graves and Sarah Purvey on the right.
There was a great audience, including some of the other ceramicists in the show

you might be able to recognise some from their backs! Patricia Volk is on the middle of the back row in the top photo, and Mary-Jane Evans in the middle wearing pink in the photo below. Patricia and Mary-Jane will be in conversation with Mark Golder next Tuesday 1 November starting at 7pm.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Free Lunchtime Talk Friday 14 October #FWIS

Sophie Cummings, Curator at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery gave her first lunchtime talk on the exhibition 'From Where I'm Standing' which showcases the work of 10 West Country ceramicists influenced by works in the Swindon Collection. Lots of people came along to hear the talk
 Sophie started with 4 pieces by Peter Hayes inspired by the Highworth Pot, and moved in an anticlockwise direction
 A close up of Peter Hayes' pieces:
Coming next to 3 pieces by Sarah Purvey who was captivated by the Basil Beattie painting, 'Witness'
 the inside of the pots is also beautiful:
Here's Sophie beside Patricia Volk's 3 pieces, inspired by Howard Hodgkin's 'Gramophone' and John Nash's 'Buoys'
 and onto Fenella Elms' piece inspired by Peter Simpson's 'Fungal Form'
 and a close up of the two together:
I didn't photograph Sophie beside everything, so went back to photograph things I'd missed, here are Claire Loder's eyes in a fab face inspired by Richard Jefferies

 And next Sasha Wardell's tea set inspired by Julian Trevelyan's painting 'The Potteries' and colours inspired by Mary Fedden's 'Spanish Chair' with Wesley West's train tea set as her third inspiration
Jo Taylor's pieces were produced in response to Nicholas Horsfield's 'Evening Downstream towards Vernon'
 Joanna Still has produced 5 pots by a smoke firing process, 4 of which are on display in the gallery, in response to Graham Sutherland's Dark Hill: Landscape with hedges and Fields'
 Mary-Jane Evans has created 4 pieces in response to Charles Howard's 'Painting 1'
 here's Painting 1
 and the tenth pieces in response to Tom Phillips 'Play:Here we Exemplify' are by Keith Varney
 Tomorrow evening Alun Graves, senior Curator of Ceramics at the V&A Museum will be in conversation with Sarah Purvey, Jo Taylor and Claire Loder, and will form the content of the next blog piece.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Friends' Fundraising Activities

Last week was a very busy week, we visited Marlborough College chapel on Tuesday, and held the second of our fundraising events, a wine tasting at Magnum Wines in Wood Street on Thursday evening, to restore these 2 paintings:
 Above 'Landscape' by George Downs, and below 'Night Sky' by Jack Smith
The first fundraising event was a Q&A session held on 27 August with Hadrian Ellory van-Dekker, Director and Chief Executive of the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust, chaired by Erik Burnett-Godfree, when we raised £421.
We had a great evening wine tasting at Magnum Wines, and were fortunate enough to have raffle prizes donated by The Marriott Hotel, Deacon's Jewellers, Wilson's butcher, The Core and Brian at Magnum donated 2 bottles of wine. We raised £152 from the raffle and £275 from the wine tasting.
Making a grand total of £848 from both events.
Here are a few photos of us at the wine tasting:
 This first one above shows the very knowledgeable Brian talking us through one of the wines

What a great evening

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

St Michael and All Angels, Marlborough College

The Friends seem to pick some of the best weather for our trips remember Roche Court and Chichester and thankfully yesterday was no exception. Due to the success of previous visits to the college this was our second visit to the chapel and this time we were very fortunate to have as our guide Niall Hamilton, now head of admissions at the school but a classicist, artist and art historian who is much missed as a teacher. Niall's knowledge is not only extensive but infectious, when you listen to him you are not only introduced to new things but always left wanting to know more.

Niall was very pleased to see such a good turnout and said how much he enjoyed himself away from the computer. He started with a short history of chapels in English public schools and how they were once seen to be a threat to local parishes. Luckily Marlborough College had a series of enlightened and ambitious masters who not only commissioned the chapel but other significant architecture around the school.

Dr Niall Hamilton

Notable in the chapel are the Victorian reredos not painted and gilded until the 1950s by Sir Ninian Comper and the new organ.


Reredos and organ

Many people were keen to hear about the murals by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, the largest collection of ecclesiastical pre Raphaelite painting. Both the chapel and the paintings were much loved by John Betjeman. In 'Summoned by Bells' he praises the greens and browns of architect Bodley. The paintings though are a colourful contrast showing new and old testament scenes. Niall praised the homage made by Spencer Stanhope to Mantegna and Rossetti and the comical titles which have been given by students over the years.

Painting top right titled 'There's a beard in my soup' by students

Looking up at the gargoyles with prehistoric Marlborough Mound behind

Outside we were able to look more closely at the architecture and then at the Eric Gill sculpture above the west door. After a few questions Niall went back to work and we took a walk through the grounds to the Mount House Gallery for the exhibition 'Resident Tourist' by Timothy Betjeman.

Timothy grew up in New York but finished studying art in London and has recently been artist in residence at Giverney, France (Monet's house and garden). He now has a studio and house at the school and after this introductory exhibition will be showing his new work next year. 

Tim's work is well worth seeing and the exhibition runs at the Mount House Gallery until Wednesday 12 October, open Wednesday - Friday 14.00 - 17.00, Saturday 09.00 - 13.00 and Sunday 14.00 - 17.00 or if not open call in the art school next door for admission.