Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Artists of Great Bardfield exhibition at Braintree Museum

I came across the Great Bardfield artists at an exhibition at the Fry Gallery in Saffron Waldon when staying with friends, there was a wonderful exhibition including some of the principle artists. Friends I was staying with also bought me a book by Janet Dyson giving more details of life in the village of Great Bardfield. Here's a Wikipedia entry on them:

'The Great Bardfield Artists were a community of artists who lived in Great Bardfield, a village in north west Essex, England, during the middle years of the 20th century.
The principal artists who lived there between 1930 and 1970 were John Aldridge RA, Edward Bawden, George Chapman, Stanley Clifford-Smith, Audrey Cruddas, Walter Hoyle, Eric Ravilious, Sheila Robinson, Michael Rothenstein, Kenneth Rowntree and Marianne Straub. Other artists associated with the group include Duffy Ayers, John Bolam, Bernard Cheese, Tirzah Garwood, Joan Glass, David Low and Laurence Scarfe. Great Bardfield Artists were diverse in style but shared a love for figurative art, making the group distinct from the better known St Ives School of artists in St Ives, Cornwall, who, after the war, were chiefly dominated by abstractionists.
During the 1950s the Great Bardfield Artists organised a series of large ‘open house’ exhibitions which attracted national and international press attention. Positive reviews and the novelty of viewing modernist art works in the artists own homes led to thousands visiting the remote village during the summer exhibitions of 1954, 1955 and 1958. As well as these large shows the Great Bardfield Artists held exhibitions of their work in Cambridge (1956) and Bristol (1959). The artists also organised a multi-city tour of England and Ireland during 1957 & 1958. The early 1960s saw the majority of the Great Bardfield artists leave the village.'

There's a  blue plaque commemorating Eric Ravilious in Castle Hedingham a neighbouring village to Sible Hedingham where friends live.
They alerted me to this latest exhibition at Braintree Museum of the Great Bardfield artists which runs until 15 April, it's called 'Life in an English Village'
It's well worth having a look if you're able to do so, there are some lovely things collected together in one place. It's interesting that these artists had 'open house' in the 1950s, a forerunner of our open studios.
One of my favourite pictures in the exhibition was this linocut by Richard Bawden, son of Edward Bawden, entitled 'A Splash in the Pant', it depicts his parents and the Raviliouses swimming in the River Pant, watched by the local policeman.
 Above Ethel House by Kenneth Rowntree in 1942
Below a Heartsease teaset made by Wedgewood in 1952, designed by Edward Bawden
 Some of the illustrations used on book covers shown below

 Below a linocut by Edward Bawden of Braintree station 1960.
 Another teaset, this time with an Eric Ravilious design

 Below The Vegetable Garden, Place House by John Aldridge, 1966. John Aldridge and Edward Bawden were both keen gardeners, the two acre garden at Place House often featured in his paintings.

 and this is his painting of The Orchard.
The last picture is entitled 'Two Cats in the Dining Room', it's a watercolour by Richard Bawden.
 It's a beautifully intense painting.
Lovely exhibition celebrating the Great Bardfield artists

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Degas to Picasso at the Ashmolean

This special exhibition at the Ashmolean continues until 7 May, and is described on the website:
'In works by Matisse, Manet, Chagall, Renoir, Degas, Léger and Picasso, this ground-breaking exhibition tells one of the most compelling stories in the history of art – the rise of modernism.
From 1800 to the mid-twentieth century, this story was played out in France, especially in Paris where international artists were drawn by salons and dealers, the creative exchange between poets and painters and the bohemian atmosphere of such places as Montmartre and Montparnasse.
With over 100 works from a private collection that has never been seen in Britain before, the exhibition plots a course from Romantic artists such as Ingres, Gericault and Delacroix via the dramatic artistic transformations of Van Gogh and Cézanne, to the radical experiments in Cubism by innovators such as Picasso and Braque.'
The poster for the exhibition is delightful, but photographs were not permitted inside this exhibition, so the Leger painting of Mother and Child is the only one I can show here, although there are a few more on the website.
Having seen the Degas to Picasso exhibition, I went to have a look at the Hiroshige's View of Mount Fuji exhibition which is in Gallery 29 until 26 March. It's a beautiful exhibition, well worth a look:
 This first woodblock print depicts Mount Fuji behind 2 trees losing their leaves in autumn
 In this one, Mount Fuji is viewed through the split trunk of an ageing cherry tree.
 This lovely print shows 2 people fishing on the Sagami River, with egrets flying around.
 Here Mount Fuji is framed between blossoming cherry trees.
 From there I looked around the large ceramic pots thinking how attractive they would be in the garden!
 On the left is a jar decorated with palm trees, from the Loomweight Basement, Knossus, Crete 1850-1800BC. The other half of the pot is is in the Heraklion museum. The jar on the right decorated with a six-tentacled octopus and murex shells is from the Palace at Knossus, 1450-1400 BC.
 The jar below was also magnificent
I loved this Stanley Spencer painting of Cacti
 and then was very pleased to find a William De Morgan cabinet with lots and lots of wonderful pieces inside it:

 Above a snake tile panel
 Above a jardiniere and below a beautiful bowl.
 Below a carnation tile panel

 Above a Blackbird bottle, as you can see in the cabinet, there were also golds and reds, but i prefer the amazing blues and greens of these pieces.
There were also amazing blue skies when I visited the Ashmolean last week, on arrival at the bus station:
and on leaving the Ashmolean, the sky was still quite blue.


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Original Artwork Lottery at Swindon Festival of Literature

Last year we were fortunate enough to be able to advertise Swindon Open Studios at the Swindon Festival of Literature by holding an Original Artwork Lottery.
Last year we raised £600 for The Prospect Hospice and this year we are raising money for Twigs.
To find out more about the event we're holding this year, and how to take part, please visit the SOS website:www.swindonopenstudios.org.uk .
We asked artists to submit artwork on card or paper measuring 5''x7'', including Eileen Cooper, Keeper at the RA who submitted a painting of an exuberant woman giving a high kick.
We framed the postcards, and they were mounted on large structures and hung on the landing at the Arts Centre where many of the events took place during the Swindon Festival of Literature.
There were some fabulous postcards submitted as you can see in the photos below:

 The postcards were unveiled by Matt Holland, organiser of the Festival:
Lottery tickets will be available during the Festival, as they were last year, costing £2 per ticket, or 3 tickets for £5.
The Launch of this year's festival is next Thursday 16 March, and from midday, we'll all be able to buy tickets for the SFL events, I've copied this information about this, the 24th Swindon Festival of Literature, it looks fabulous:

Authors due to appear in May are varied and many. They include author-politician David Owen; prize-winning novelists Lionel Shriver, Mark Lawson and Xiaolu Guo; columnist Polly Toynbee; psychiatrist-author Oliver James; philosophers Roman Krznaric and Stephen Law; courageous funny woman Francesca Martinez; science guru Marcus du Sautoy; kidnap-survivor Terry Waite; Archers’ linchpin Graham Harvey; royal writer Ingrid Seward; solo explorer Benedict Allen, and radio’s Charlotte ‘the voice’ Green.

As well as these, there are also numerous other talks, discussions, readings, and storytelling at theatres, arts venues, libraries, parks, museums, and even an ex-cowshed, in Swindon! 

Festival standing dishes also include the early-morning Dawn Chorus; the eighth and unique Swindon Think Slam; a Children & Families Day; the twenty-first Swindon Slam; and the fabulous Poems, Pints, and Music Finale! 

In lovely Lydiard Park, on the very first day of the Festival, there will be a freedom run, a health walk, and a fascinating talk!                                                          

The Festival is now firmly established on Wiltshire’s cultural calendar. It is loved locally and held in high regard nationally.

Jon Snow hailed it ‘remarkable, and a real surprise: the Tate Modern of the M4 corridor’; John Major, ‘perfect and punctual’; Joan Bakewell, 'delightful'; John Carey ‘terrific’; Melvyn Bragg ‘down to earth’; Will Self ‘sans spelling mistakes’; Chris Redmond ‘lots of heart and zero pretence’; Shaun B ‘comparable to love’; and John & Mary D ‘one of the main reasons we moved to Swindon!’

The Festival of Literature continues to thrive thanks to funding from Arts Council England, whose support represents recognition of the growth, value, and popularity of Literature-related activities in Swindon.

Other main partners and loyal sponsors of the Festival are Dominic Winter Auctioneers, Swindon Borough Council, Swindon Artswords, Swindon Libraries Service, Adult Community Learning, and Lower Shaw Farm. Further assistance comes from Wyvern Theatre, Swindon Arts Centre, Richard Jefferies Museum, Poetry Swindon, Waterstones Bookshop, The Tuppenny, Switch on to Swindon, Acorn Press, Pink Handbag, Swindon Viewpoint, Swindon Open Studios, Swindon Advertiser, Link Magazine, The Swindonian, BBC Wiltshire, Total Swindon, Swindonweb, Swindon Community Radio 105.5, plus a host of other local organisations and individuals.

Lastly here's a photo of last years winner of the Eileen Cooper postcard:

IWD in the Central Library

There was a real buzz in the Central Library last weekend for International Women's day celebrations, I took a few photos and chatted to a few people, including Karen Roswell, the main organiser of the events, who had done a wonderful job to get so many people together for IWD.
In the Courtyard beside the Library, these figures looked majestic, and inside the Library
 there were lots of people
 including the Old Town Belles with Jane Caudwell in the centre.

 There's also a lovely exhibition in the Courtyard Gallery which I'm going to have a better look at on Tuesday and will have more information on it then.
I particularly liked this picture
 and here's a general view of the gallery.
The exhibition runs until the end of the month.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

IWD at the No.9 Gallery PPs

International Womens' Day is on Wednesday March 8, so the majority of the festivities in Swindon were held yesterday, although there is an evening focusing on women stepping into the public domain entitled 'Amplify Your Voice' at The Central Library, Regent Circus, SN1 1QG from 7.15-8.45pm, it costs £8. More on the website.

I started off at Artsite's Number 9 Gallery where they were holding a workshop entitled Pavement Pigeons from 10am, I'd seen the event on Facebook, and thought it looked interesting.

 Above a photo of the IWD banner outside the number 9 Gallery, and below a window display by Sasha Ward
 and below the window display from the further away. It looked bold and enhanced the window considerably.
 Moving inside the number 9 Gallery, I saw a completed pigeon with its message:'Get to know your neighbours' in its beak

 We were shown the idea behind the pigeons by Sally Taylor who had moved her studio into the gallery for the day:
And then we began selecting paper to stick on our templates. I chose a pigeon with wings rather than a dove type outline.
I love those events where you can sit round a table chatting, and this proved to be one of those.
 Above my pigeon with the message 'Let's talk to each other' in its beak, and below a dove type of pigeon
 and this lovely one says 'Let there be love'
 Vicky Silver seen below with another sort of 3D pigeon
 Some of the pigeons were going to be hung from a tree, or you could take it home, or leave it on the pavement for someone to pick up ......
Lovely event, thank you for the Pavement Pigeon workshop