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Wednesday 27 January 2021

Desmond's Day in the Guardian today

 There was a lovely piece in today's Guardian's Culture section reminding us that while we are missing being able to visit art galleries during this third lock down, the Guardian are doing what they can to bring art from collections around the country into our homes. Today was the turn of Desmond Morris's painting 'The Mysterious Gift' presented to Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in 1965, Katie Ackrill, engagement officer wrote the lovely article which can be found in full by clicking on the link below:

Excellent publicity for Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, and of course our Patron, Desmond Morris.

A reminder about the 3 works we have of Desmond's work we have in the collection can be found here:

Above The Mysterious Gift 1965, and below 'Girl Selling Flowers', reputedly a painting of Morris's one time girlfriend, Diana Dors painted in 1946 when according to my calculations he was 18!!

and here's a recollection of collecting our latest work which Desmond Morris gave us as a Christmas present in 2019:

Thursday 7 January 2021

Congratulations Sir Christopher Le Brun

 Congratulations from the Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery to Sir Christopher Le Brun who was awarded a Knighthood for services to the Arts in the New Years Honours 2021. Well done and richly deserved.

His fabulous painting, Hyperion, entered the Swindon Collection 35 years ago, and was part of our 'Big Hitters' online exhibition on the Art UK website 

 We aim to have some sort of connection between our talks speakers and the Collection, and so were thrilled when he agreed to come and give us a talk, almost 4 years ago. Knowing we would need more audience space than available in the current gallery at Apsley House, we hired the hall at Swindon Dance for the occasion. The Curator at the time, Sophie Cummings, interviewed Sir Christopher Le Brun. It was wonderful being able to talk to the great man before the in conversation with Sophie, when I learned, among other things, that when Hyperion was acquired, it was hung in the stairwell of Swindon Dance, the great hook which held it is still in the wall!

The evening was documented in a blog post of course, please click here to read it.



Wednesday 6 January 2021

Our December Talk by James O. Davies

 We were very fortunate in having James Davies giving us a virtual talk in December, beginning with his early interest in photography, and talking about some of the projects he has been involved in over the years. The actual title of the talk was: 'The Photographer, the light, the building and getting it',  I did take some photographs of the computer screen during the talk, including some fascinating ones taken inside Silbury Hill in 2007, inside prisons, power stations and at Stonehenge. I don't think I should use these photographs, but will include some James sent me to advertise his talk to give you an idea of what he means by photographs:

Above is Tokyo Cathedral designed by Kenzo Tange
This is a photograph of the 12th Century archway round a door at St Andrew's church at Great Rollright
Above might be a photograph inside Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye
Above is a photograph of an Angel sculpture from Whitehall Palace in 1686 now at Burnham on Sea in St. Andrew's church and below the font is from a church in Roche, Cornwall

Above Landfall, Poole regarded as one of the finest Modern Movement buildings by one of the finest architects of the inter-war period, and below Malator at Druidstone, Pembrokeshire built in the earth house architectural style.
I'll continue with some information I found by looking up James Davies, and adding the 'O'

 'JAMES O. DAVIES has been an architectural photographer for English Heritage  for twenty three years. He has contributed to many books in that time and his work has been widely exhibited and published  throughout the world. He is also a portrait photographer, twice exhibiting in the National Portrait Gallery and having received various awards, including Nikon Independent Award, Ilford Award, and Jane Bown Portrait Award. He has taken the official Portrait of Her Majesty The Queen Mother, as well as the first ever photographic survey of English Prisons, published in two books. He is currently working on a book about post war buildings in Britain.'

 I then found information about James's book on Stonehenge which I have now bought:

'More than 4000 years old, the true meaning of this ancient, awe-inspiring creation and the secrets of its construction have been lost in the mists of time. Surrounded by mystery, Stonehenge never fails to impress. 

Over the last five years James Davies has been photographing Stonehenge at all times of the day and night, and all through the seasons. With privileged access to the stone circle he has built up a unique portfolio. A Year at Stonehenge brings together the best of his work, while a short expert text summarises our current understanding.

Published to coincide with the opening of a new environmentally sensitive visitor centre and the restoration of the surrounding ceremonial landscape, this is the most visually stunning book available on this most fascinating world heritage site.'

I took notes throughout the fabulously illustrated talk, which I'll include here in an abbreviated form. Keeping verticals true is important, as is waiting for the light to be just right, although it might take all day, with ambient light being particularly important in churches and cathedrals to give the right atmosphere. Moving clutter from the scene you are about to photograph, particularly bags, and making sure the scene is as you want it before photographing it is important. James talked about what makes a great photograph, and showed us examples where he thought he could have done things differently to improve the photograph. James is currently recording the last coal and oil powered power stations, and had some fascinating shots inside them. 

I've got a final note about getting low when taking photographs, and luck = readiness + opportunity there's also a mention of Tom Denny who made a fabulous tryptych at The Chapel of St.Thomas, Gloucester, do click on this link to see them, they were photographed by James O. Davies.

I also found a list of things to remember when taking photographs of buildings, please click on this link  below for a more informative list than mine. A final thank you to James, and a recommendation to follow his Twitter feed @JamesODavies where we find out how James spent New Year's Eve and the photograph he took by moonlight.