Monday, 4 January 2016

Visiting the Lightbox in Woking

A Google search for the Lightbox says  'The Lightbox in Woking is one of the most exciting cultural spaces in the south east with three galleries, a museum, a Cafe, a Gift Shop and the option to hire the rooms.' I'd agree, and also with this statement about the Ingram Collection: 
'The Ingram Collection is a unique private collection of Modern British and Contemporary Art, the vision of media entrepreneur and philanthropist Chris Ingram. He started collecting in 2002 and since then it has become a constantly expanding collection which includes work by the major artists of the 20th century, and also explores the work of  emerging artists of the 21st century, such as Aleah Chapin and Haroon Mirza. The Ingram  Collection spans over 100 years of British Art and includes works in oil and on paper, sculptures, installations and videos. Chris is passionate about sharing the collection and  wants as many people as possible to enjoy it.'
The permanent collection is comprised of over 650 works collected in the last 14 years by media entrepreneur, Chris Ingram, there are 2 volumes of books available in the shop which show photographs of the Collection, well worth buying at £9.95 for the pair.
I was interested to see what a new museum and art gallery in a town like Woking would be like, bearing in mind we're hoping to do the same soon in Swindon.
The Lightbox is situated very near the huge shopping malls and multi storey car parks, but also by the canal, so it's in quite a quiet niche despite being right in the centre of the town, and although the shopping centre appears huge, the population of Woking is 99,000, less than half that of Swindon.
From the road, there are huge signs advertising the fact it's there:
 And behind that wall, there's a deceptively small looking boxy building
 with lovely gates
 and a sitting outside area in front of the cafe and beside the canal, decorated with glass sculptures
 The downstairs houses the shop, the cafe, some sculptures, lockers, toilets and an interactive sustainable living exercise
 One of the panels explaining the Ingram Collection and what's going on in January:
 The current exhibition in the main gallery on the first floor is called Bodies! Here's an overall view of the gallery:
I've photographed a few favourites of mine on this visit:
 I think this piece by Allen Jones, 1983, deserves 2 photos, a quote from Chris Ingram says ' Allen Jones is rarely subtle in showing his love of female bodies; almost always erotic and often sexist by today's standards. It may take a few seconds to work out what this is, but pretty soon you'll work out he's in the groove with this one too.'
 Below is an example of one of 4 paintings by an American artist, Aleah Chapin, bought by Chris Ingram, this is unusual for him because he usually only collects British art.

 This is 'Garden of Eden, 1926, by William Roberts. In 1928 this was exhibited at Southport Municipal Gallery and was withdrawn after the first week because of complaints about the portrayal of the subject matter.
 Above, this beautiful watercolour was painted by Edward Burra in 1976, the year he died, which makes it even more spectacular.
 Here's another painting by William Roberts entitled 'Beauty Queens and painted in 1974.
 Above an ink and wash piece by Michael Ayrton in 1965 entitled Demeter and Kore, in Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of agriculture, or the harvest. Kore is her daughter, the personification of spring growth.
 This is one of several statues by Elisabeth Frink, entitled 'Riace Figure lll' 1986, it's cast in bronze.

 A lovely pair, above 'Reclining nude' by John Piper 1954 in pen and ink, wash and chalk, and below
 Christopher Wood's 'Seated Nude' undated, in pencil it's simply gorgeous.
 Having seen the exhibition, I went to watch the 25 minute video of a chat between Chris Ingram and the painter Aleah Chapin, seen below, it felt very personal and gave a fascinating insight into both the interviewee and the interviewer.

 Here they are in front of an amazing painting of women. Aleah specialises in painting women she knows, and often older friends of her mothers naked.
 After watching the video, I had a look round the historical section which included features on saving our heritage
 I then went upstairs to look at the Quentin Blake exhibition, but before that had a look at the paintings in the corridor, by three different artists, I liked them all, but by this time, I had to ration the photos, so chose Simon Palmer's work. These are 'Boundary beech Trees' 1990.
 And in the same year, he painted 'Thoroughbreds in Transit', seen below, both painted in watercolour.
 No photos allowed in the Quentin Blake exhibition, but there was another very high quality video in there with a particularly interesting part showing how Quentin Blake draws and colours in his people.
Great experience at the Lightbox, do go if you can.

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