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Thursday, 30 January 2020

Friends' January Social

To mark the opening of the exhibition, Pop and Prosperity:1960s British Art from the Swindon Collection, we held an opening night, and also took the opportunity to introduce two new part time outreach workers at the museum and unveil a new painting we had been given by our Patron, Desmond Morris.
We started the evening with an opening of the exhibition by Katie Ackrill who has been appointed Art on Tour Project Engagement Officer at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.
 Art on Tour is a project to advertise our Collections more widely, currently at STEAM Museum and also the Civic Offices in Euclid St.
 Mags Parker, seen in the picture above near the wall, also spoke about her new role as Education Officer at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery. On a recent visit to New College, she asked how many of the students studying art had been to the Museum, out of a group of approximately 15 students, 2 had visited the gallery.
 I took a few photos of the assembled Friends, it was a very popular evening, with about 80 present.
 After Katie and Mags introduced themselves and how they saw their roles, the big event of the evening for me, was to unveil the painting we had been given by Desmond Morris, the choosing of the picture is written about in the previous blog post. The painting had been very well wrapped by Rona Marsden, who runs Rona's Gallery where Desmond's work was being shown, but was finally revealed. Erik Burnett-Godfree kindly agreed to talk about Desmond Morris and the painting, and a bit about why we had chosen it.
I love the painting and think people were very pleased with our choice.
 There was then time to chat and look at the Glyn Uzzel exhibition in the smaller part of the gallery

We now have three paintings by Desmond Morris, from his early period, Girl Selling Flowers, 1948, currently in the Civic Offices as part of the Art on Tour project
 and Mysterious Gift, 1965 which is in the current exhibition

Collecting Desmond Morris's Picture from Oxford

Desmond Morris famous zoologist, ethologist and surrealist painter, as well as a popular author in human sociobiology, is known for his 1967 book The Naked Ape, and for his television programmes such as Zoo Time. His Wikipedia entry mentions that he was born in Purton, his family moved into Swindon when he was a child and his grandfather, William Morris founded the Evening Advertiser. What the Wikipedia entry does not say is that Desmond Morris has been Patron of the Friends ever since their inception 26 years ago! When he received a copy of the latest magazine, he was very pleased when he saw the image of 'Girl Selling Flowers' on the front cover. This painting, a great favourite, was painted in 1948 when Desmond was 18.
Desmond emailed me to say that he would like to give the Friends a Christmas present. We could go and choose a painting of our choice from Rona's Gallery in Oxford. I contacted Rona Marsden, the gallery owner, and in early January, three of us traveled to Oxford on the bus, met Rona and had a look round the gallery. I took photographs to record what was a very exciting morning.
Here's the gallery from the pavement:
and in a bit closer:
I've taken photos of the paintings on the walls to give an idea of the choice we had to make
Here are Tim Carroll and Erik Burnett-Godfree discussing the paintings, and how to make the choice
These paintings were brought out of the window
And here is Rona showing us a copy of one of Desmond's books
More chatting
Three paintings that were in the window, were turned round for us to look at
It's interesting looking back at the process we went through in order to make our final choice
I was keen on this one, and if I had gone on my own, might have chosen this one, not properly represented here because Rona's Gallery is a pop up shop, and was a Russell and Bromley shoe shop, the fixtures and fittings, including the lighting were intended for showing shoes to their best advantage, so the white spots seen on the painting are spotlights.
These two were strong contenders at one part of the process
While waiting for a decision about which painting to choose, I took a couple more photos
I imagine the small shelves were put on the wall for displaying shoes
And we have made our choice, Rona is showing us the title of the painting.
and here's a lovely picture of Rona with our painting, with a lot of reflection from the lights!
I noticed there was a mirror which might give us an interesting photo
and here is a close up of our new Desmond Morris painting which we love. As before, the white spots are reflections on the glass
I finally took a photo of Rona filling in the paperwork for the painting, she then wrapped it beautifully and it was not opened again until it was shown to the Friends attending a Private View on the 21st of January.
We would like to extend a big thank you to Desmond Morris for this kind gift for the Swindon Collection, and belatedly wish him a happy 92nd birthday.
As Desmond noted, we now have an early, middle and late Morris in the Collection.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Angels, Buckets and Bells

This exhibition in the downstairs rooms at Swindon MAG is a creative response to St. Mary’s Lydiard Tregoze, one of Swindon’s most historic and beautiful buildings. The Grade 1 listed church  was awarded funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2018 to conserve its medieval wallpaintings, monuments and decorative schemes. It brings together the sketches and finished work created by the project’s Artists in Residence, Felicity Cormack and Judy Thomson, which will be exhibited alongside treasures from the church.
I went along to the opening night last Tuesday and thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition, Judy's work is on the right as you go into the museum, and Felicity's is on the left. I was so intrigued by their responses to St.Mary's that I didn't really pay much attention to the treasures exhibited in the cabinets, and must go back for another look. All work is for sale.
 The woodcut print seen above titled 'Buckets at Lydiard Tregoze' is one of Felicity's, and below only just about visible because of reflections is the original woodcut.It depicts workers seen during the restoration project when they carried buckets of water in and out of the church.
 'Bell Ringers' seen below is another of Felicity's woodcut prints
 and here's the original woodcut with a bell ringing cord
 Here's a photo of Felicity discussing her work
 and a photo of Sue beside some of Felicity's charcoal drawings.
 The opening night was very well attended, and as usual, there were drinks and nibbles and speeches. Here's Sarah Finch-Crisp, below,talking about the project at St.Mary's and this particular part of it. The church received its first grant in 2016, and they have now had the second amount, with work due to be completed by the middle of this year.
 And onto Judy's work. This mixed media piece, 'North Tombs' really stands out.
 And this piece in one of the cabinets depicts the inside of the church when there was scaffolding in there. Judy said they couldn't go and draw when people were working there in the week, so went at weekends. This piece might be 'Looking up the Aisle' and it's metalpoint I think, it's really fine drawing and is amazingly detailed.
 These are a mixture of cyanotypes
 and this is 'South Window Angel' a unique cyanotype print.
 As you can see, I need to visit the exhibition again when I'm not in a hurry and there's more room to move and have a proper look at, and understanding of what's in there.

Monday, 13 January 2020

Friends Farewell to Sophie Cummings

After six and a half years at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, Curator Sophie Cummings has made a huge impact on the place, with regular change overs of exhibitions both in the downstairs and upstairs galleries, there have been reasons for regular return visits. The Friday lunchtime talks have proved very popular and given people insights into works they might have otherwise not had.
I know a lot of other things went on behind the scenes and lots of others contributed to the recent successes at the museum, but I was concerned when I heard that Sophie was leaving because of the huge positive impact she had made. There was a card to sign and donations were made towards a present of garden tokens and a hamper from Dapaolo  Cafe and Delicatessen also featured in Angela's blog.
We got together today for afternoon tea to give Sophie the card, tokens and present. Lots of Friends turned up, and I thanked Sophie for the high standard of exhibitions  and positive impact she has made. Sophie gave a speech thanking us, and ended with a piece from the Adver in 1989 when Sophie visited a bicycle exhibition. I took a few photos, starting with this one, where Sophie could be giving a lunchtime talk:
Refreshments included a Victoria sponge cake made by my daughter Helen, and some scones with jam and cream, accompanied by cups of tea.
 Here's a photo of the Dapaolo hamper
 and a few general photos of those who came to say goodbye

 It was a lovely event, it was great that so many people could come along

 a couple more views of Sophie during her speech
 and here's Sophie holding up the newspaper cutting
The newspaper article with a lovely photo of Sophie in the museum
 and interestingly on the reverse of the photo is a piece about Steam, a second national railway museum for Swindon. with this thought 'Swindon is looking to tourism as one means of increasing its prosperity. There is still a long way to go before the town will be in a position to rival some of its more historic neighbours.'
 Katie Ackrill, newly appointed Engagement Officer seen below
 and Tracy and Sophie
 I took this photo from the museum's Facebook page.
Yes it was an emotional event. Good luck Sophie, and thank you for all you have contributed ove rthe last 6 and a half years.