Swindon used to be a town full of murals. Many, though not all, were the work of Ken White. Only one of his now remains and that’s the Golden Lion mural which you can see in the image below. Now though there are some new murals in Swindon.
‘The inSwindon BID team, in partnership with Artsite and Swindon Climate Action Network, launched the project to help re-energise the town centre and boost community arts.’
On his Facebook page, Martin says: ‘Locality is about things that take place within an area – theatre, arts, creativity – that’s what makes a place.’ He’s not wrong.
The quotation used on the mural is from our very own Richard Jefferies:‘If every plant and flower were found in all places, the charm of locality would not exist. Everything varies, and that gives the interest.’
Hello listeners. For all sorts of reasons too tedious to go into here, my foray into this year’s open studios starts and ends with what you see here. But there’s lots more and there’s next weekend too. Find out more here: http://swindonopenstudios.yolasite.com
Then finally onto to Tim Carroll’s home. There was great excitement there as he’d filled an art box with stuff. I remember there being an art box in the arts centre back in the day and I loved it. Every time I was there I would put my £1 in and get some art in a box!
Because I’m an idiot I forgot to take a photo of it – so I’ve nicked this from Linda Kasmaty’s Twitter stream so I hope she doesn’t mind:
So my friend and I duly inserted our £1 coins to get some art. My friend went first and got a teeny picture of the Great Blondinis. Great excitement at that. Then it was my turn. I had two goes and got two chickens! One on a magnet and one ceramic one. Now one chicken is fine but two…nah.
Seeing that yours truly was about to have a temper tantrum at getting two chickens when what she really wanted was The Great Blondinis Linda and Tim prudently took the second chicken off me and gave me a £1 coin to have another go. And – result – well I didn’t get the Blondinis but I DID get my other favourite thing: The David Murray John Tower. Well a picture of it. Not the actual tower cos that would be too big to get into an art box. #obvs.
So here’s the collection of stuff I came away from there with:
Know your art from your elbow with the Swindon 175 Art trail
5th June 2016- 3rd July 2016
From the Swindon Art’s Trail website:‘The Swindon Arts Trail will feature some of the very best art Made in Swindon, displayed at venues across the town. … Many of the artists featured draw inspiration from our industrial and urban heritage (Ken White, David Bent, David Robinson, Tim Carroll, Mark Worrall, Juliet Wood, The Visual Drop). Others highlight the natural beauty and open spaces to be found across Swindon (Beverley Greig, Caroline Day, Terry Humphries, Susan Carr).’
This listeners I’m really rather excited about. I might even have an art attack! 😉
Some of the artists featured in this art trail have been written about previously on this here Born again Swindonian blog. I own prints and other items created by a number of them but others in this list are unknown to me so I’m looking forward to discovering their work.
I’ll tell you now of some of them I know and those I miss I’ll beg your pardon
Ken White: When I first set up this blog Ken White was one of the ‘things’ I featured in my 10 things to celebrate about Swindon.Ken is famed for his murals, all but one of the Swindon ones sadly now gone. He’s also the creator of Virgin’s iconic red lady emblem and a huge body of work related to Swindon and its GWR past. Indeed Ken began his working life ‘inside’ – as working in the GWR Works was referred to.
Tim Carroll: I own a couple of pieces of Tim’s work. One that I think of as swimmers – it’s a sculptural sort of a piece -and the other is one of his 100 views of Swindon: the David Murray John Tower.
From the Swindon Advertiser: “… It all started with a vague notion of producing something completely different from his usual work, which often includes classically inspired themes or great leaps of imagination. He also quite fancied working outdoors.
Tim’s modus operandi is to make meticulously detailed drawings of street scenes in his sketchbook – which takes an average of three-and-a-half hours – before producing colourful acrylic or water colour versions back at his home studio.
He originally set himself a year to complete the project but it has taken much longer than anticipated.
Now he’s aiming for two years and two months – just in time for the 175 Swindon Art Trail which will feature several key local artists displaying images of the town at various venues to celebrate 175 years since the opening of the railway works and the beginning of modern Swindon.”
David Bent:I’ve only got to know David more recently. He’s very well-known as an aviation artist and that body of his work is the main thrust of this post: https://swindonian.me/2015/08/20/david-bent-refreshed/ It features a nice little film clip of him talking about the beauty of aircraft design.
He does though of course have a huge body of other work – notably his Movement 2000 collection – painted in 1999/2000 as an artistic response to the Balkan wars and the refugee crisis that created. And never was a thing more apposite than now.
That’s a really fabulous and exciting initiative and something for us all to celebrate as well as the art trail as a whole. In answer to the question: ‘What’s Swindon got in a the way of art?’ – rather a bloody lot frankly!
“At The Harbour Project we welcome and support refugees and asylum seekers in Swindon.
To those who’ve risked their lives, families and homes fleeing war and persecution, we provide friendship and hope for a future. With this purpose, we’ve been working tirelessly since the Kosovo crisis in 2000. Today, we’re aiding people from across the world.
We became a registered charity in 2003 when a small team of staff committed resources to running daily drop-in services, Monday to Friday. Whether it’s recreational activities, assistance with legal processes or help with social welfare, we’re still giving all we can to new visitors … “
“Swindon Dance is located in the heart of Swindon, where from its base in the town’s former Victorian Town Hall, it has for over three decades been a leading innovator in Dance Development in the UK.
Each year thousands of people of all ages and abilities Take Part in a comprehensive range of quality classes, project and performances. For many this will be a leisure pursuit and a fun pathway to health and well being but for many others Swindon Dance has provided a step into an amazing career in dance … “
Lynette operates from, and is involved with, Artsite and the Postmodern and Number Nine in Theatre Square. I love that place and have bought several pieces there – including one of Lynette’s at it happens.
Through December Lynette is running mosaic workshops so if you fancy having a go at this art form now’s your chance:
‘MOSAIC WORKSHOPS IN DECEMBER
Learn to cut, glue and grout a mosaic…. using found objects, jewellery, mirror and coloured glass to either work on your own projects or make presents for Christmas. All materials are provided.
If you would like to come along to a workshop there are still some spaces left on a Tuesday evening 7.30 – 9 pm. £10 per session. It is held at Number Nine in Theatre Square which is opposite The Post Modern Gallery.
To book a place email Lynette at: firstname.lastname@example.org’
The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls. – Pablo Picasso
Well listeners, if we stretch that analogy a little further and consider the wealth of art of all kinds that goes on here in Swindon we can find ourselves washing the dust off our souls in a veritable ocean of creativity – much of which has featured at various times on Born again Swindonian.
I popped in there today too and met Lynette Thomas who works with mosaics. I ended up buying a piece of her work and having a good old natter with the lovely people in Artsite. Lynette has created a wonderful mosaic homage to the Magic Roundabout a couple of pictures of which are in the gallery below. I like it. I want it. Don’t give me any other… I find myself drawn to mosaics.
Earlier this year I bought a mosaic piece from another of the artists at Artsite which now has pride of place in my garden. Maybe I was a Roman in a past life? Anyway…
Paul Sullivan & S.Carr/T.Humphries
Magic roundabout mosaic
This year too I’ve learnt of the existence of David Bent about whom I really need a blog post. DONE! Missing still is Tim Carroll. That needs to be addressed – I’ll get there. As well as the small piece up above I’m the proud owner of one his 100 views of Swindon. I LOVE them all. I like a lot of his work in general.
A few months or so ago art work by Caroline Day started appearing on my Facebook timeline. I started sharing it on the Facebook page for Born again Swindonian – an act that resulted in a lovely guest blog post from Caroline in which she explained all about the work of the Old Town Garden’s art work.
So today it was a great pleasure to finally get to meet Caroline, up in the town gardens and to see some of her lovely works first-hand as part of the Old Town Garden’s Little Big festival and Swindon Open Studios art event. I like her work very much. Many of her prints have interesting juxtapositions of photographs of the band stand and even her children set against drawings of flowers.
Plein Air artists
Two artists I also had the pleasure to meet today were Terry Humphries and Susan M Carr. Susan is, amongst other things, a ‘Plein Air’ artist. A little bit of internet research reveals that ‘En plein air’ is a French expression meaning ‘in the open air’. It’s used particularly to describe the act of painting outdoors. “Artists have long painted outdoors, but in the mid-19th century working in natural light became increasingly important to multiple schools of art.
The Barbizon school of France was of particular influence on the Realists, who focused their work on everyday subjects versus prominent figures. These Realists inspired the Impressionists, whose style included visible brush strokes, ordinary subject matter, and an emphasis on light in its changing qualities.
The popularity of painting en plein air increased in the 1870s with the introduction of paint in tubes, which replaced the task of grinding and mixing dry pigment powders with linseed oil. It was also during this period that the “Box Easle “, typically known as the French Box Easel, was invented. This development increased the ease and portability of art supplies, making treks into the forest and up the hillsides less intimidating and more appealing to those looking to paint new landscapes.”