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Monday, 27 July 2020

An Art of the People: Collecting Studio Pottery

 Mike Yates, a passionate collector himself has recently written a beautiful booklet, about his own collecting journey, which not only goes into the history of studio pottery, but talks about some other avid collectors as well. It's an absolute must for anyone interested in ceramics.
Many of you will be familiar with Mike Yates from the talks he has given to the Friends, going back as far as 2012 when he gave a talk entitled 'Smashing Pots'  and more recently a talk on 'The Role of Ceramics' to accompany a ceramics exhibition of pots belonging to Mike and loaned for the exhibition. Here he is seen with an Ian Auld pot while talking to a packed gallery of members of the Friends..
Anyone who is a collector will recognise the collecting journey Mike takes us on, remembering the circumstances when each item in the collection was acquired. The main thing is that although there is a financial cost to collecting, it's always worth it if you love what you are collecting.
Mike mentions a bowl in the booklet made by Ursula Mommens , who has a fine heritage which he outlines. The bowl is just gorgeous, he bought it ten years ago from a gallery in London. The point is he still admires it and is still wondering if the fish look like flying fish; they do seem to be moving as seen below:
Another Mommens bowl, similar to this one, recently came up for auction it was part of a collection of some 1.200 pieces owned by Michael Evans, also known as Dayabandhu. His collection was featured in an article about his collection in a Design magazine produced by the Guardian recently:
 It's well worth clicking on the link to see the article and much better photos of Dayabandhu's collection.
One of the pieces Mike included in his booklet is this small pressed dish made by Shoji Hamada:
As well as considering the anatomy of collecting, Mike also gives helpful hints on where to find studio pottery including visiting Ceramics Fairs and where to find out about them.
This is a delightful book, if you are intrigued and would like to buy a copy please email
Mike has kindly offered to donate copies to us, so all profits from sales will go to the Friends. I'm selling them at £5 each including postage and packing. So please don't hesitate to buy one!!

Saturday, 11 July 2020

'From Response to lasting Image' a talk by Juliet Wood

We were fortunate enough to have the artist Juliet Wood talking about her life and work for our second Zoom talk a couple of weeks ago. Juliet ran through her early interest in art, when I think she and others recognised a real artistic talent, leading her to spend time as a student at The Slade, then a postgraduate year in Italy. Then followed 5 children, which it seemed might have had an effect on the progress of Juliet's life as an artist. However, Juliet's website gives a more accurate and succinct summary of Juliet's life, and her chronology an illustration of the wealth and breadth of her experience.
I first met Juliet at her exhibition 'Alone and Together, Brunel's People' where as Juliet says:
'In our ever faster moving world, I sat still in a fast food restaurant, a visual feast, recording hundreds of moments over more than a decade, gradually developing this series of themed paintings'. Juliet has also produced a video about these paintings here
 This painting above is called 'The Greeting' and really expresses the range of activities in the fast food restaurant really well, from the man sitting down at the end of his shift, the two men chatting to each other while a woman carries a bag behind them, and the people in the background are cooking food.
 I particularly like this painting because of the range of activities you can see, and also the fact that Juliet was photographed with Lakshmi who was cleaning the floor::
And here is Juliet drawing in McDonald's.
 Juliet has also produced some paintings of the seaside which make me long to be beside the sea.
These are of Cromer Beach and Pier
 and below the pier from the other side than shown above; Juliet stood in the water to draw this composition, with the tide rising!!
There were also some fabulous portraits, I particularly liked these, Juliet says:
‘At the heart of my painting is the expression of human life, and portraiture has always been a part of that.’ and there's lots more information on her website

 Above Ned, Jamie and Ellen Atiyah, three siblings
 This was a beautiful portrait, Juliet has conveyed so much here, and showed us drawings she had done of the hands.
This is a portrait of Chris Bretherton.
Maybe my absolute favourite portrait though is of one of Juliet's grandson's, Rex seen as a drawing and then the portrait:
 Here is the painting of Rex, with his father's portrait in the background, I think!
 I have only conveyed a fraction of the talk and what it covered here, but would like to thank Juliet Wood for giving us such a comprehensive overview of her work, and giving us such a pleasurable evening.
 Prints and books can be bought by clicking on the links.
And finally, as many of you know, while Swindon Museum and Art Gallery is closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, we have organised a selection of talks to hold via Zoom. It works this way, those who have joined the Friends, should be on my emailing list, and will receive a link to the Zoom talk just before it is held.It's a good way of keeping in touch with the Friends during these difficult times, and partly makes up for the fact we can't get together in the art gallery.
Here's a link to the video of the talk:
Coming up next:
Jeremy Holt on artist Caspar David Friedrich next Wednesday 15 July.

Friday, 3 July 2020

'Big Hitters', FSMAG Committee Picks!

The Friends' committee were recently asked if they would like to mount a virtual exhibition of works from the Swindon Collection. It didn't take us long to agree it was something we would really enjoy doing; the idea of showcasing some of the possibly most prestigious works in the collection in an online exhibition was very exciting. Remembering exhibitions being put up in the gallery, I thought how fabulous to come up with a theme, pick the paintings, and fix them into the wall. Now we had the opportunity to go through the same process; we chose 27 works, with quite a high degree of agreement about what to put into the exhibition. The title was not universally liked among the committee, but was voted in, the complete title being:
 'Big Hitters: Significant Artists in the Swindon Collection', if you click on the link, you can see the exhibition, and some information about each one.
A big thank you to Tracy White for her work in making this a reality, ArtUK for their fabulous website and promotion of artworks and Swindon Borough Council for supporting the Swindon MAG.
 These paintings are being used to advertise the exhibition:
 David Bomberg's 'South East Corner of Jerusalem' and below Maggi Hamblings's 'Descent of a Bull's Head
Please do have a look at the rest of the exhibition by clicking on the link above.
I'll also include the press release below:
(There should be the Swindon MAG logo in the top left hand corner)

Press Release
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery launches ‘Big Hitters’ virtual exhibition with ArtUK
Tuesday 23 July 2020

Swindon Museum and Art Gallery has announced the launch of a virtual exhibition through ArtUK, the online home of the nation’s public art collections. The exhibition is called ‘Big Hitters’, and has been selected by the committee of the Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, who aim to draw attention to some of the most important pieces in Swindon’s collection of modern British art.
Although the Bath Road venue is closed due to COVID-19, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery is making the best of digital resources to help people access the collection, which is credited with being one of the best in the UK. This has included the launch of ‘Art on Tour at Home’, which has developed a number of free online talks, activities and learning resources. ArtUK’s curation tool is also invaluable for sharing the collection with audiences during lockdown.
‘Big Hitters’ includes around 30 artworks from the collection, spanning the 20th Century and showcasing some of the most popular pieces in the collection by the likes of David Bomberg, Howard Hodgkin and L.S. Lowry. Linda Kasmaty, the Chair of the Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, explained why the initiative is so important. She said:
“When we were asked if the Friends’ committee would like to mount a virtual exhibition, we thought what a fantastic way of getting the collection shown to a wider, online audience. Since the beginning of lockdown due to COVID-19, many people have spent more time online, and many museums and galleries have greatly increased their online presence. We’re hoping this exhibition will complement the ‘Art on Tour’ initiative which has been a tremendous success, connecting with many people, both those familiar with the Swindon collection, and those who did not know Swindon had such a collection.”
Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for the Town Centre, Culture and Heritage, said: “Lockdown has really inspired us to come up with new and creative ways of showcasing our fantastic art collection here in Swindon and this latest exhibition is another fine example of that work.
“I would like to thank the Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery and ArtUK for their work in promoting these 30 wonderful artworks, and I’m sure it will be a big hit in keeping with its title!”
The exhibition will be available to view through ArtUK from Friday 3 July.
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery is also thrilled to be included in the Great British Art Quiz, which is compiled by ArtUK and The Guardian. Visit The Guardian’s website and test your knowledge about Swindon’s art collection by taking this exciting quiz -
Additional info:
Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery is a charitable organisation committed to supporting Swindon Museum and Art Gallery via promotion and fundraising. Please visit their website for more information about their activity and membership -
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery is located on Bath Road, in Swindon’s Old Town. As well as holding a significant collection of modern British art, it is the home to important collections of local archaeology, geology and social history, as well as Egyptology. Swindon Museum and Art Gallery is closed until further notice, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Visit for more information.
Art on Tour is a project dedicated to sharing Swindon’s art collection with more people in more places. A digital version of the project has been developed during lockdown –