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Monday 30 November 2020

Beauty of Nature: Incompetence of Painting, a Talk by Dr Mike Pringle

 We were very pleased to welcome Dr Mike Pringle, a professional in the arts and heritage sector, for our November Zoom talk. For those not yet familiar with Mike, there's a great interview with him here where he talks about taking over the Richard Jefferies Museum over 10 years ago, and the way forward, and here's more information on the Green Rook website.

 I slightly worried by the title of the talk, it's challenging, but being Mike, he researched it very well, and he treated us to a fantastic slide show of photographs, many of which appear in his latest book, out soon, and all taken by local photographers. I did my usual photographing from the computer screen, but it gives you an idea of some of the images Mike talked about.

Mike started by talking about a Lascaux cave painting estimated to be 17 thousand years old, and invited us to compare the depictions of the animals with what those animals may have looked like.

The next painting depicted two horses, the one on the left is fairly horse like, but the artist had clearly not seen a horse from the front.

Depictions vary, and artists can produce photorealistic paintings of horses, do they capture the beauty of the horse? Mike then introduced the writer Richard Jefferies who grew up at the farmhouse depicted here by Tim Carroll.

Jefferies loved the countryside around where he grew up, his parents were farmers, his sister Sarah painted these cattle seen below.

Jeffieries was a nature lover, he had a passion for the countryside, and created a fantasy world around Coate Water as Bevis. He is known for his depiction through words of the countryside around him, he was a landscape painter in words, and struggled to find words to describe the wonder of the natural world, just as a painter might struggle to find the right paint to depict a landscape.

Jefferies was the first person to use the word wildlife rather than wild life, in his book Wildlife in a Southern County. The OED mentions the first used the term in 1879 by Jefferies, in some cases the cover of the book has Wildlife and others Wild Life. It wasn't until 1982 that the term wildlife was in common usage and appeared in a dictionary with Jefferies listed as the first person to coin the term.

I've included a painting of the Old Town Mill above and Jefferies farmhouse below
I think this is a photograph of Coate Water with the diving board on the right
And below this is 'Gamekeeper's Cottage, Hodson' by Frank Quentin, I wondered when it cam eto this point whether Mike thought that Frank had captured the idyllic nature of the cottage.
Mike used Tara Parker-Woolway's painting of Liddington Hill to compare a photo of the hill with Tara's painting. He wondered why she had transposed it, the reason being that Tara lives in Bourton and saw it from a different perspective.

Below is Turner's depiction of a train, Mike felt this was an abstract painting, but I can see identifiable things in it.

It was certainly a very thought provoking and fabulously illustrated talk. Thank you Mike. I look forward to the publication of your next book on Jefferies in 2021.

I hope this is a copy of the video of the talk, when you can find what Mike really said:


Monday 2 November 2020

From Seed to Steel: a talk by Joseph Ingleby

 For our last Zoom talk, we were very pleased to welcome Joseph Ingleby. whose sculpture, 'Turtle Storm' has resided in Queen's Park for the last 25 years. Fascinated by the sculpture, and the person behind it, I looked up Joseph, found his website, contacted him and asked if he would consider talking to us via Zoom. Based in Glasgow since 1989, there is no way we could have brought him to Swindon in person, but I am really pleased we were able to find out about his subsequent work.

Let's start with the sculpture 'Turtle Storm' seen below:

This was a response to the effects on a turtle colony of nuclear testing in the Pacific in the 1980s, it is composed of irregular natural forms including turtle shells, making an abstract work. It started life at Kelmscott Manor from 1989-94, and when Kelmscott was run by a Trust, a decision was made to have only artefacts on the premises made by William Morris. Turtle Storm was then donated by the Dufty family to Thamesdown who sited it in Queen's Park. Thank you to Angela Atkinson for this information in her 2015 blog piece on Queen's Park, which can be read here. Angela has written a blog piece in response to this talk, mainly about 'Turtle Storm', lots more information on the piece here.

Joe seems to have been influenced by natural forms, converting them into large steel structures, or not so large structures. I took a series of photos from the screen and took copious notes, starting with this one, 'Shelf Life' described as 'man made with an organic twist' by Joe

Flywheel seen below is a post graduate piece made from sheet metal
Spring Release below, made in 1992, is made from forged metal, and has much energy and movement in the piece
I don't think we were ready for 'Time Vessel' a breath taking commission on a large scale, it's a plate copper sculpture reminiscent of a ripening seed pod and can be found in Alloa, commissioned by Clackmannanshire Council.
This podded fern was commissioned by Sustrans
'Slipstream' was commissioned by Scottish Enterprise, Lanarkshire for South Lanarkshire Council, and now stands beside the river Clyde at Dalmarnock Bridge, Rutherglen, Glasgow, as you can see, it's lit at night.
Not all pieces are very large, Greta's Star celebrating his daughter's birth, is a copper sculpture
Joe starts with drawings, he showed us the drawings made before 'Turtle Storm' and also for
'Waterland' about freshwater life, and below, the scale models for the resulting sculpture in Nottingham
Joe also talked about the River Wall sculpture which is opposite Slipstream, there are lots of photos online, and it's a large piece, click here to see it, and lots of other images of Joe's work
We were then privileged to hear about Joe's latest work for Lerwick, Shetland, shown above are preparatory drawings, and below scale models of the abstracted guillemot's egg
and as seen below cut open to reveal elements of Shetland

For the definitive, accurate version of the talk, please click on the link here:

Thank you once again Joe for a fantastic talk.

 This was the information Joe gave us to publicise the talk:

 'From Seed to Steel' Joseph Ingleby is a sculptor working in metal, his work informed by an interest in nature and its uneasy relationship with the man-made. Based at Glasgow Sculpture Studios since 1989, Joe makes both large-scale works for outdoor public spaces, as well as smaller pieces for exhibition and interiors.Sculptures in the public realm are site-specific and draw on themes that reflect both historical and contemporary aspects. It is these‘hidden histories’ with their rooted points of reference, giving clues to the nature of the place, that he sees as the focus for the creation of his public artworks. In this talk,Joe will retrace his creative journey since the making of‘Turtle Storm’ in 1986, giving insight to his methodology and his artistic development as well as the importance of drawing to his practice. He will also consider how he works on a practical levelthe materials he uses and how he constructs his sculptures. Illustrating how the commissioning process happens with its various key stages, Joe will show examples of some of his public work, as well as the small-scale gallery work that is the bedrock of his practice, enabling a constantly evolving approach of focus and refinement.Joe trained at West Surrey College of Art and Design, Farnham (now University College for the Creative Arts) graduating in 1986, and then at the Slade School of Fine Art, London,in 1988. In 1989, seeking affordable workshop and studio space, he moved to Glasgow and has developed his work at the GSSsince then. He has exhibited and had commissioned work located across the UK. Significant major awards include from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York, in 1996and the Gottlieb Foundation, New York in 2013.