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Monday, 15 May 2017

Madresfield Court trip

The first of our Friends' trips took place last week to the little known Madresfield Court set in glorious rural Worcestershire with the dramatic backdrop of the Malvern Hills..
Madresfield Court is a moated stately home which has been in the Lygon family for nearly 900 years and is currently home to the 29th generation of that family.
The house is an architectural masterpiece and played a significant part in nurturing the Arts and Crafts movement, as well as acting at least in part as the inspiration for Evelyn Waugh and Brideshead Revisited. It also contains a fine collection of paintings, furniture and ceramics.
It's possible to book a guided tour around the house, but it's not open to the public in the way many other stately homes are, there's no cafe, and a very basic shop.
Our tour was booked for 2.30pm, so having left Swindon at 10am, we arrived at Madresfield at 11.30am. On ringing Madresfield Court, we discovered they didn't want us to arrive before 1.30pm because otherwise we'd spoil the experience for the other group who had a morning tour.
It was suggested we went to Malvern for a couple of hours, so we could grab a coffee and eat our packed lunches, it's difficult to convey the splendour of the hills there
 As we left the coach, the driver decided to turn the coach round, and unfortunately hit the lamp post in the centre of the car park, removing a wing mirror and shattering some of the windscreen, this meant that we couldn't be driven to Madresfield Court in this coach, so by the time we returned to the coach, we had a different coach and driver.
While in Malvern, we walked through Priory Park and admired the wooden sculpture carved into a damaged cedar tree by Tom Harvey. Initially you just see a leg, and then from different angles, there's lots more to see

 and a close up
 Prior Park also has a band stand.
 This is Prior park an impressive Gothic building housing the council offices
 Refreshed by the trip to Malvern, we were quickly at Madresfield, here people are seeing their first views of the house

 and here it is:

 Is this a better view?
 There's lots of wonderful topiary in the garden
 The nearer you get to the house, the better the views of it. I like this one
 There are busts in the grounds

 This is the entrance to the house with the most glorious Wisteria around the entrance.
  That's the last photo because there's no photography allowed inside, however I've found photos of the interior here it's worth a look. 11 May was the first day of Malvern Show, which meant there was a lot of traffic to negotiate to get home. However, it was a wonderful day out.
Next trips: 13 June Hauser and Wirth and 13 July The Watts Gallery

Creative Wiltshire exhibition

Last week  the official opening of the Creative Wiltshire exhibition at the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery was held in the downstairs front rooms. It's a lovely exhibition celebrating some of the wonderful creativity in Wiltshire, with quite a lot of work from Swindon. Refreshments included ginger beer which has become quite a feature of events at the museum, celebrating the many ginger beer makers once operating in the town. The drink, while very refreshing, has an almost alcoholic hint about it, and makes me wonder if there could be a revival of locally produced ginger beer, maybe I'll ask Old Town Brewery what they think about brewing some.

Looking at the museum's website, they describe the exhibition as follows:

Creative Wiltshire: Celebrating modern art and design from Swindon and Wiltshire

 The landscape and character of Wiltshire has long inspired artists and designers. This exhibition celebrates artists from Swindon and Wiltshire who feature in our Collection of Modern British Art and includes many recent acquisitions.Since 2015, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery has worked with Wiltshire Council and museums across the county to acquire modern and contemporary work by artists from Wiltshire and Swindon. This exhibition brings together new acquisitions made through this scheme and includes work by Ken White, Patricia Volk, Sasha Wardell and Katharine Pleydell Bouverie, artists who live or work in Wiltshire.The exhibition also explores the Swindon Artists Society and Swindon Sketch Club, two organisations which between the 1940s and 1980s brought together some of the town’s most exciting artists, including Leslie Cole, Carleton Attwood, Harold Dearden and George Reason.Discover modern British art with a Wiltshire flavour!

Here's a sample of some of the gems, with number one, George Reason's wonderful depiction of the diving platform at Coate Water, entitled 'The Polluted Lake', painted in 1969. 

 These ceramic pieces above are made by Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie and were acquired for Swindon through the Creative Wiltshire project.
 Above with far too much reflection Gerald Gardiner's Towards Wiltshire, Early Autumn, interseting view of the window though!
 Above E.Bampton's painting of 'Coate Water' painted in 1948, it looks very tranquil
Below more ceramics in a case.
 Below in the other room, the maquette used to make a Carleton Atwood sculpture, The Watchers.
 Below in this cabinet there are 2 Desmond Morris paintings and the 2 works bought with funding from this project by Patricia Volk.
 and on the side wall, quite hard to see is an aquatint by Howard Hodgkin
 There's a lovely painting of a magnolia in flower on the other side of the cabinet with the maquette in it.
 There's much more to see in this lovely exhibition, and an alternative view by Martin Parry who was taking photos there last week. Martin has also produced a compilation of photos of Swindon Sketch Club in 1950 where you can glimpse some of the pictures in this exhibition on the walls.