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

Friday 14 July 2017

Free Lunchtime Talks

These popular free sessions start at 12.30pm, and are often in the main gallery, although not always. They usually last half an hour, with the speaker talking for 20 minutes and allowing 10 minutes for questions.
The last one I went to was on the 23 June, given by Curator Sophie Cummings, she started by choosing a few paintings to comment on in the Bomford Gift exhibition in the smaller part of the gallery, and then went onto the London School exhibition where again she chose a few paintings to discuss.
The audience stands around as Sophie talks fascinatingly about the paintings:
 There are also seats available if needed.
Today's FLT is in the downstairs gallery at 12.30pm, Dr Susan Carr will be giving people an informal tour of her portrait exhibition ‘Paint me this way!’.
 Discover the connection between portraiture and therapy in this inspiring exhibition and the extraordinary and moving stories behind the images.
Other talks being held on a Friday lunchtime at 12.30pm include:
28 July- 'The Lie of the Land' - introduction to the new landscape exhibition
11 August- 'Contemporary Arts Society' - the role of the CAS in helping public collections grow
18 August- 'Family Tour'-Peter Burgess' - a family friendly hands on tour of the ceramics collection
 25 August- 'The Lie of the Land' - tour of the landscape exhibition
1 September- 'Paint me this way' - Dr Susan Carr gives a tour of her portrait exhibition
6 September- 'Cathy Lomax' - a Wednesday lunchtime talk about this new exhibition.
29 September- 'The Lie of the Land and the Contemporary Arts Society.
11 October- 'Peter Waldron'- tour of this brand new exhibition to discover more about this important abstract artist and ask any questions you have about the works on display. Note this is also a Wednesday talk

Monday 10 July 2017

New Talks and Trips Flyer

Great news, we now have our talks and trips flyer for the second half of 2017.
If you're a member of the Friends, I've already emailed it to you, but for those who haven't yet joined, here it is, we've got another fantastic set of talks:

I appreciate it's not easy to read them, hard copies will be available from the museum tomorrow.
The first evening talk, not on the flyer, is by Susan Carr entitled 'An Introduction to Portrait Therapy' on Thursday 20 July at 7.30pm, doors open at 7pm. Susan's exhibition of the same name opens this Wednesday in the downstairs front rooms at the museum. Susan will also be giving a free lunchtime talk this Friday 14 July at 12.30-1pm.

There are lots of lunchtime talks and activities at the museum over the summer, please visit their website for more details.
There's also a talk on Thursday 27 July by Michael Sandle RA:
Tickets available for the evening talks from our website or from the museum.

Thursday 6 July 2017

'Order from Chaos' by Stef Vincent

For the last 3 years, Stef Vincent has been the Museums Collections Project Manager, taking on a variety of HLF funded projects with the aim of discovering, documenting and interpreting the objects stored by SM&AG. Last Thursday evening, Stef gave a hugely entertaining and enlightening talk about some of the challenges she's faced over the last 3 years, demonstrating the fact that we're extremely lucky to have her in charge of ordering the chaos.
 There were some interesting things from the stores that Stef had laid out to give us an idea of the nature of some of the artefacts.
 I was interested in this piece which is ornamentation from a harness, it still has some of the enamelling on it. I'll ask Stef about the age.
 You may have seen in yesterday's Swindon Advertiser, an article about the fact there are now 2 human Egyptian mummified hands, seen below. The article is written by Tom Seaward, who not only showed a great interest in the talk, but also joined the Friends that night.
 They are apparently both left hands.
 Here's Stef talking to a large audience.
 Stef said that there's always a question about how many objects there are in the 5 large storerooms, the answer is there are probably 100000, and this number will double in the next 5-7 years as archaeological finds are made when the eastern villages are built.
It's not just a matter of straightening boxes and cataloguing what's in them, Stef has to understand, centralise, care for and let us all know what's in the stored collections. Charles Gore, a significant collector of minerals and fossils, has the amazing accolade of having the museum founded to hold his collection; he's also had 2 ammonites named after him.
There can be a problem with chemicals such as mercury, arsenic and silver used to preserve materials in the herbarium.
I was intruiged by the 38 wall paintings from Burderop House which can't be displayed until they are in a more stable condition and have been conserved, this would cost approximately £120000.
 Sometimes things are wrongly labelled, such as The Black Sea Coast painted by Roger Fry
seen below:
It in fact depicts Studland Bay!!
A member of the audience asked about handling things, and some things can be handled, this will be built into exhibitions at some stage.
There are 35 people who have contributed to this work by volunteering, 5 of those have gone onto paid employment as a result of their experience in Swindon.
Stef mentioned the Kate Tryon paintings which spent many years at the Richard Jefferies Museum, Stef gave a lunchtime talk on these a few months ago, and we were able to see them being conserved.
 I'm pleased that our organisation, the Friends of SM&AG have been able to contribute to both HLF funded projects Stef has been involved in.
The talk ended with questions form the floor, but not before Stef recommended this You Tube video about the conservation of the Carleton Atwood bust of Alfred Williams. It's well worth watching, please click here:

Wednesday 5 July 2017

Back the Bid Launch

This was on 14 June at 9.30am in the gallery at the museum, people were invited to support the campaign and were photographed together with the now familiar butterfly hand gesture:
A general shot of people:
 and the banner
What can you do to help?
Like the bid on Facebook, follow them on Twitter , sign up for an e-bulletin at, look out for roadshows, email and join the Friends by visiting the website
And of course make sure you have signed a supporter's postcard. 

Hauser and Wirth trip

On the 13 June, a minibus load of us went to visit Hauser and Wirth, near Bruton in Somerset which I've been wanting to visit ever since it opened in 2014.
 It's a pioneering world-class gallery and multi-purpose arts centre, which acts as a destination for experiencing art, architecture and the remarkable Somerset landscape through new and innovative exhibitions of contemporary art. A landscaped garden, designed for the gallery by internationally renowned landscape architect Piet Oudolf, includes a 1.5 acre perennial meadow, which sits behind the gallery buildings.
We started by having lunch in the nearby allotments, and then met our guide, Leslie Glenn Damhus, who gave us a very comprehensive tour of H&W for 90 minutes.
 As Helen talked about the history of the gallery, and how it had changed Bruton, I looked round at the lovely buildings surrounding us, and then went indoors to have a look at the exhibition by Rashid Johnson has an exhibition occupying all 4 galleries. If you click on the link, it will explain all of the works. The first gallery was a bit like a floral bookshop, it was hard not to brush against the overhanging plants
 From there we went into a gallery with 4 pictures like this
 here's a close up:
 And then in the next gallery here's Leslie explaining the 'faces'
 and in the fourth gallery there are some large tropical collages:
To give you an idea of the scale of the beautiful gallery space, here are some of our party in the gallery:

 From the galleries, we walked into the garden, which is a delight.
 There is some grass which I'd forgotten about:
 But mostly riots of colour in the wonderful beds
 I loved this Penstemon Digitalis Husker red
 and after being shown around by Leslie, looked at individual beds, identifying plants wiht my Oudolf Field guide.

 There are paths leading up to the structure at the end of the garden
 You can just see the orange Eremurus tails in the breeze below

 At the entrance to the garden, these two Louise Bourgeois Eye Benches III 1996-1997 made from Black Zimbabwe Granite are fabulous, although very hot on that day.
 I loved this trough:
 and these raised veg beds.
I will also mention we had an exceptional cream tea before leaving.
It's also worth mentioning Bruton, we stopped there for coffee before arriving at H&W, I'd like to go back and have a proper look, but here are a few glimpses of what we saw:
 above glorious alleyways, and below Stephen Davy-Osborn suggested we visit At the Chapel for coffee and other refreshments. Checking out the website, I discover you can also stay there. It's worth having a look at the photos of the bedrooms.
 Here we are having coffee
 general views of the chapel

 There's also a river running through Bruton

 The remains of this building can be seen form H&W and from Bruton, so it must be easy to walk from the town to Hauser and Wirth.
 Wonderful day out.

Open Farm Sunday 11 June

Open Farm Sunday is an event held all over the country annually, It is a fantastic opportunity for everyone, young and old, to discover at first hand what it means to be a farmer and the fabulous work they do producing our food and managing the countryside.
I thought it was something that only happened on the Archers until Gill Swanton invited the Friends and  Museum staff to the event, encouraging us to spread the word about the bid for the new building, aided by the model.
Gill was right, it was a wonderful event, with lots of interesting stalls, activities, food. We met lots of people who hadn't realised we were putting in an HLF bid for a new museum and art gallery in November.
We were in a the main barn, and described by the Marlborough News as follows: 'They got too a glimpse of the (possible) future with a model of the striking design for the proposed Swindon Museum and Art Gallery...supporters of the scheme were gathering further support to help their bid for funding.'
You can see Sue Pycroft, of Vox Publicity, and Rod Hebden, Director of the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust
 Another general photo of people looking at the model and talking about it.
 Outside the barn, there were long queues at the food stalls, I particularly enjoyed my hog roast bap.
 People also took their dogs
 The model is going out to many events this summer, including these:

Dorcan Summer Fete Sat 11am to 4pm
Volunteer(s) needed
Swindon Business Expo, STEAM – Thurs 9.30am to 5pm
Volunteer(s) needed
Wroughton Carnival – Sat 1pm to 6pm
Volunteer(s) needed
Wrde Up Festival, Highworth Sat 2pm to 6pm
Volunteer(s) needed
Old Town Festival – Sun midday to 6pm?
Volunteer(s) needed
15 or 16/7/2017

Steam, Cider and Sausages festival – Sunday, 10am to 5pm Swindon and Cricklade Railway,Blunsdon
Volunteer(s) needed
Pinehurst  Fun Day
Volunteer(s) needed
Stratton Festival, Grange Leisure, Stratton. Saturday 12 to 6pm
Volunteer(s) needed
Swindon and Wilts PRIDE festival, Town Gardens, Swindon. Sat – 12 to 6pm?
Volunteer(s) needed
12 or 13/8/2017
Swindon and Cricklade Railway Steam and Vintage weekend – time to be confirmed- Sat & Sun
Volunteer(s) needed
Wanborough Summer Show and Carnival, Wanborough – 12 to 5pm?
Volunteer(s) needed
Swindon Half Marathon – finish at Wharf Green - afternoon
Volunteer(s) needed
Prospect Hospice Garden fete
Volunteer(s) needed
Culture and Cream teas – Richard Jefferies Museum
Volunteer(s) needed
Date to be confirmed
Volunteer(s) needed

Obviously some have taken place, but if you feel you would like to help in spreading the word about the plans for the new museum and art gallery, please email Sue Pycroft at