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Saturday, 24 February 2018

The Grosvenor School Linocuts- a talk by Gordon Samuel

The first sell out talk of the year was a real eye opening excursion into the world of linocuts by Gordon Samuel, who has appreciated, collected and bought and sold them for years, firstly at the Redfern Gallery, and latterly at the Osborne Samuel Gallery. When the Redfern Gallery first opened in 1923, linocuts by Claude Flight were being sold for 5 guineas, now they can fetch up to £150,00.
Apparently in 1927 when Claude Flight wrote a book about linocuts, he said 'A linocut colour print should not look like an oil or watercolour painting, it's a print from a soft linoleum block and so it should not be taken as a woodcut, a wood engraving, or an etching, it should take its individual place on a wall and be recognised as a linocut'.

The Grosvenor School of Modern Art was a private British art school. It was founded in 1925 by the Scottish wood engraver Iain Macnab in his house at 33 Warwick Square in Pimlico, London. From 1925 to 1930 Claude Flight ran it with him, and also taught linocutting there; among his students were Sybil Andrews, Cyril Power and Lill Tschudi. Thanks to Wikipedia for the concise summary.
If you click on the link, you'll find lots of images of linocuts.
I took a few photos during the talk, they are atmospheric
 Gordon explained how linocuts are made, with slides to show us the stages to achieve 3 or 4 colours.

 The linocuts Gordon showed us on the screen were fantastic, for their depiction of everyday London scenes, movement in sport and leisure and workers in the landscape.
 Above 'Gymnastic Exercise by Lill Tschudi and below 'In Full Cry' by Sybil Andrews
 'The Eight' by Cyril Power in 1930 is a beautiful image
 It's hard to pick out favourites, The Escalator' was also a particularly lovely linocut, also by Cyril Power.
 After the talk, people stayed around for a while chatting, and having more drinks.

 A great start to our 2018 season of talks. Thank you to Gordon Samuel for providing such a great insight into the history of linocuts and showing us such memorable images.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Euston Road School - lunchtime talk

Last Friday, Sophie Cummings gave a fascinating talk on the Euston Road School exhibition in the small gallery to a large crowd. The Euston Road School last from 1937-1939, and was characterised by acutely observed paintings often of naturalistic subjects with a bit of a dull appearance, as though they need cleaning.
 I've included three photos of the people who came to listen, it was a very popular talk. Above Curator Sophie Cummings just visible on the right hand side of the photo.

 Below, the gorgeous painting by David Tindle RA, 'Teasel Plant, 21, Warwick Crescent, W2 painted in 1955, influenced by the Euston Road School.
 there were some paintings on loan for the exhibition including some from Basil Rocke, lent by his family. This one below is entitled 'Dried Flowers and Oil Lamp' is very closely observed.

 The painting above is by John Dodgson, 'Landscape, Provence', there's also a preparatory drawing.
Although there's a bit of reflection, you might be able to see the artist in the foreground with a couple in the background. It's by William Roberts, 'Nature Morte', watercolour and pencil on paper. Roberts was an associate of the Euston Road School.
 This drawing is also by William Roberts, it's study for 'Bank Holiday in the Park. Sophie drew our attention to the two dogs in the bottom right of the picture, greeting each other with lots of sniffing as dogs do.
Duncan Grant was an associate of the Euston Road School, seen below the magnificent 'Standing Woman'
 There's also 'Seated Man' by Duncan Grant
 The piece above is by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, 'Burden' and is one of the 50 Gift of 2017, in honour of Meryl Ainslie. It's very good to have this wall signage, really a hangover from the previous Janet Boulton exhibition.
 It was a fascinating and informative talk, here's the Wikipedia entry:

The Euston Road School is a term applied to a group of English painters, active either as staff or students at the School of Drawing and Painting in London between 1937 and 1939. The School opened in October 1937 at premises in Fitzroy Street before moving to 314/316 Euston Road in February 1938. The School was founded by William Coldstream, Victor Pasmore and Claude Rogers. Graham Bell was a substantial theoretical influence on these teachers and Rodrigo Moynihan was also closely associated with the School.Students at the school included Lawrence Gowing, Tom Carr, Peter Lanyon, and Thelma Hulbert. The writer Adrian Stokes and the poet Stephen Spender attended drawing classes. Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant were among visiting teachers to the School.[3] The emphasis was on acute representational painting based on observation. The School emphasised naturalism and realism, in contrast to the various schools of avant-garde art then prevalent. Many of the members were on the political left, and naturalism was seen as an attempt to make art more relevant and understandable to non-specialists and members of the public. To this end, Bell and Coldstream spent three weeks in working-class lodgings in Bolton, Lancashire in April 1938 painting cityscapes showing local factories. The resulting paintings were not highly regarded locally in Bolton. Later in 1938, the Euston Road artists contributed to the Fifteen paintings of London exhibition held at the Storran Gallery. In an attempt to engage the wider public, private invitations were sent to everyone named Brown, in the Post Office telephone directory.
The School closed at the start of the Second World War, as its members joined the Armed Forces, worked as war artists or, in the case of Pasmore, were imprisoned for being a conscientious objector. A small exhibition, Members of the Euston Road group was held at the Ashmolean Museum in 1942. In 1945 Pasmore, Coldstream, Rogers and Gowing were all teaching at the Camberwell School of Art and two further exhibitions followed, The Euston Road School and others at the Wakefield Art Gallery in 1948 and a group retrospective organised by the Arts Council which toured Britain throughout 1948 and 1949. By the end of 1949 the artists had embarked on separate projects, with Coldstream leaving Camberwell for the Slade School of Art.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Charity Wine Tasting at Magnum Wine 8 February

We had a very pleasant evening at Magnum Wine in Wood Street on Thursday, for our first event of the year, a charity fundraiser. There was a great mix of Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, and people who had bought tickets from Magnum and didn't know very much about the current museum, or the plans for the new one, but were keen to know more.
Brian Saunders, owner of the shop, introduced us to a selection of hand picked wines and led us gently through the tasting, encouraging a swirling of a glass here, a sniffing there, until we were able to drink more intelligently than before, possibly.
We started the evening with some fizz, not prosecco because it tends to be mass produced, the British apparently now they have a taste for it, drink 80% of the prosecco produced.
This was followed by 3 white wines, my favourite being the Te Mata Cape Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Hawkes Bay NZ. We had some delicious Cornish Brie after the last white wine and before the first red wine, then we had double Gloucester before my favourite red, the Casas Del Bosque Reserve Carmenere 2015  Rapel Valley Chile, we then had some Ardennes Pate before the last red wine, and some Taw Valley Cheddar before moving onto the port.
The port was De Bortoli Old Boys 21 yr old Tawny, absolutely gorgeous stuff, and we finished up with home made carrot cake.
It was lovely to see our logo on the wine tasting sheet as we walked in, such a thoughtfully prepared evening.
I bought the wines I've mentioned. I can give anyone who wants to know what the others were, the full list.
 Here are some general photos of those present
 And Brian behind the counter giving lots of background information on the wines.
 I think this photo below was after the event had finished and people wanted to buy some of the wines tasted.
 Brian was assisted in the pouring of wine and handing out of cheese, pate and cake by his brother, Sarah and Hannah Dosanjh. In this lovely painting below, you can see Sarah in the middle of the picture behind the counter, and Brian on the right.
It was an absolutely fabulous evening, Brian is a fantastic entertainer and raconteur and knows his wines.
Thank you also to those who came along, bought raffle tickets, donated raffle tickets and generally made it such a wonderful fundraising event.
We raised £693 which goes towards restoring paintings, buying artworks, sponsoring exhibitions, refurbishing the archaeology gallery and improving our communications.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

2018 Programme of Events

Happy New Year to everyone, let's hope it's a good one as they say.
We have an excellent programme of events for the first 6 months of the year which I'll outline below.
All members of the Friends will be receiving a flyer with all the information you see here with their Journal later on in January. In the meantime, hard copies of the flyer can be obtained from the museum.
We're kicking off the new year with a wine tasting at Magnum Wines in Wood Street on Thursday 8 February starting at 7pm. Brian Saunders will be introducing us to some excellent wines, and sharing his extensive background knowledge of all of them. There will be cheese and nibbles in between wines.
Brian is seen above posing with a bottle of wine for promotional purposes. The tickets, seen below are £15 and are obtainable from Magnum Wine in Wood St, or the museum. Please encourage your friends to come along, the evening is an opportunity to meet up in a social situation and raise funds for the museum.
I'll now post pages of the flyer which I hope you can read, starting with the summary on the front cover:
and the two events in February next, the wine tasting and a talk by Gordon Samuel on Thursday 22 February. Tickets for the talks can be obtained by visiting our website
On 29 March, Sophie Cummings will be talking about German modern art, and on 9 April, we have a coach trip to London.
Our April talk on Thursday 26 April is by Jon Ratcliffe on Cellars, Towers and Tunnels, with a trip to the Craft Study Centre on Tuesday 15 May
Our May talk on 31 May is by Richard Henry on 50 Finds from Wiltshire, and we have a trip to a Sculpture Exhibition at Urchfont Manor on Friday 22 June.
 That leaves our talk on Thursday 28 June by Kate Malone, we have yet to book a venue to hold the talk, we though there might be more than 53 people wanting to hear Kate talk, so we will hire somewhere else. Swindon Dance, in the former Town Hall has proved an excellent choice when we want a larger venue, but they are occupied on that date.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Lunchtime Talk - A Seeming Diversity

The day after our last talk of the year, we were lucky enough to be back again in the gallery for a free lunchtime talk with Curator Sophie Cummings, with I think a record number of people attending.

Use was made of the folded seats

Several views of the 'crowd'
Sophie also unrolled some of Ian Hamilton Finlay's works on paper:
Janet spent many summers with Ian at Little Sparta
After the talk, people continued to look at the exhibition.

The next three free lunchtime talks are:
Friday 26 January 12.30pm on Face the Music exhibition
Friday 16 February 12.30pm talk about The Euston Road School exhibition
Friday 23 February 12.30pm talk about the Paper exhibition

Janet Boulton in Conversation with Sophie Cummings

Last Thursday, we were fortunate enough to have a wonderful evening with Janet Boulton in conversation with Curator Sophie Cummings, it was our last event of 2017, and a real treat for those who have admired Janet's exhibition: A Seeming Diversity:working with watercolour currently on show in the gallery until 20 January 2018.
The museum's website says this about the exhibition:
'Janet Boulton is internationally known for her watercolours and paper relief works, but few know of her connections to Swindon. This exhibition celebrates her works on paper and will include paintings inspired by music, still life and gardens.
Boulton was born in Swindon. After art school, she returned to the town and worked as an art teacher at Swindon College, Commonweal and Hreod Parkway. In 1977, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery hosted her exhibition, ‘Windows and Reflections’, inspired by her views from classrooms in the town. Since the late 1970s, she has worked at Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden at Little Sparta, the Villa La Pietra, and the Garden Museum. Her work is in public and private collections in the UK and abroad.
This exhibition is a welcome return to Swindon from this important artist. It celebrates both her innovative use of watercolour and her engagement with nature, beauty, architecture and music.'

 The evening started with the premier viewing of Janet's beautiful film to accompany the exhibition, made by Zuleika Kingdon. You can see the film on Janet's website
After watching the film, Sophie asked Janet about her her teaching experiences in Swindon and Abingdon, where she moved in 1977. Janet worked part time as an art teacher for many years, and continued to develop her own practice.
there was a large, enthusiastic audience:

I was particularly interested in Janet's paintings of Barnsley House garden which I was fortunate enough to visit when the late great Rosemary Verey was pottering around the garden and keen to talk to anyone looking round and showing an interest. Developing and painting gardens are important themes in Janet's work, she is a very keen gardener and has invited 10 Friends to look round her garden in the summer. There are still 8 spaces if you'd like to come, please let me know, date to be arranged.
Other themes featured in the exhibition include still life with bottles and lines, 'eye music' and paper relief works .
Three of Janet's earlier works, currently on display in the Paper exhibition in the larger part of the gallery, have been gifted by Wiltshire Council's Creative Wiltshire project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
 The piece featured above is called 'Physics Room Window, Hreod Burna Senior High School', it was painted in 1974 when coincidentally I was teaching Science at Hreod Burna, so our paths crossed all those years ago. The school was named Hreod Burna after the stream that ran through the school grounds, it has now been rebranded as Hreod Parkway, it was Hreod Burna when Janet and I taught there.
Tom Seaward, Swindon Advertiser reporter has written a lovely piece on the evening:

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Lunchtime Talk about the new Paper Exhibition

Curator Sophie Cummings gave us a wonderful tour of the new Paper exhibition at lunchtime on Friday 1 December. The lunchtime talks are free and start at 12.30pm and last half an hour, with time for questions afterwards. They are well attended and extremely enjoyable and informative.
Above some of those who turned up to hear the talk, and below Sophie talking about a group of drawings
and below talking about Nicholas Munro's 'Igloos'.

The pieces Sophie particularly picked out to discuss are seen below:
above you'll all recognise this Alfred Wallis picture 'Ship amid Tall Waves', oil and pencil on board
above not so typical of Edward Bawden's 'Essex Housing Estate' painted in 1954
Above John Nash's 'Buoys at Harwich' painted c 1955, it's watercolour on paper, and below 'Grey and White Drawing' by John Walker in 1965-6. It's an amazing piece, the way it's executed makes it look like it's made form many different pieces of paper, but it's a clever optical illusion.
And this piece by Nicholas Moore is a screen print called 'Igloos' has been used to promote the exhibition.#

Above Alison Lambert's 'Amal' a drawing with collaged elements, 2008.#
Below 4 pieces by Cecil Collins, Head, Head, Sun Head and Studies.
Below this is Goshawk by Charles Tunnicliffe it's a wood engraving on paper.
With a bit of reflection, a drawing by Duncan Grant entitled 'Kneeling Figure'#
Below Michael Ayrton's etching entitled 'Narcissus' 1976 #
Those pieces with a hashtag beside them are examples of pieces from the Meryl Ainslie Gift, an anonymous gift of fifty works on paper given in tribute to the artist and gallery owner Meryl Ainslie.
The next FREE lunchtime talk will take place on Friday 15 December at 12.30pm and will look at the Janet Boulton exhibition.