Last weekend saw me – and many others – in Swindon’s Old Town being part of The Journey.
The Journey, as described on photographer Elmar Rubio’s website, was ‘an immense, immersive theatrical telling of the Christmas story’. It entailed a processional performance that unfolded throughout Old Town that showed ‘the true nature, the faith and the fearlessness of those chosen to birth and raise Jesus Christ. It was truly epic, beautiful and moving and I offer my biggest and most heartfelt congratulations and thanks to all those who made it happen.
It began at Lethbridge School with crowd scenes, and the Romans telling the residents of Nazareth that they had to return to their birth place to be counted – for a census. The Journey progressed down to Wood Street, through a bazaar, and into Christ Church for the Nativity – with a real baby!
As I walked along with the performance it occurred to me how much the Christmas story carries resonances for all of us. Whether you’re a firm believer in God and Christ, are on the fence or strongly of the opinion that it’s nothing more than the greatest story ever told – it has resonances. Because, aside from the birth of Christ element, the Christmas story is one of people being made to move en masse, without fault and without choice. Whether it be fleeing from war, or famine or natural disaster – or forced from their homes for racist/political reasons – people have suffered mass exodus since time immemorial. The world hasn’t come to anything. Such atrocities were ever thus.
The residents of Nazareth, and all towns and villages in the region, were forced to undertake a long and arduous journey to Bethlehem because the Romans decided to count the population in its occupied territories. No matter if you were old, or sick or, like Mary, heavily pregnant – you had to go. Many must have died along the way.
And mass exodus is something that moved David Bent to paint his Movement 2000 collection. These works took David two years to paint. He undertook the project from feeling moved, inspired – driven even – to create a major piece of work in celebration of the new millennium. When he chose ‘Movement’ as the umbrella title for these paintings he was inadvertently prescient. Why? Because around this time the Balkan/Yugoslav raged. And, as we know, where ever conflict exists there are refugees. Where ever there is conflict there are people on the move seeking sanctuary.
David Bent exhibits at national memorial arboretum
It’s always the greatest pleasure to write about David Bent on this blog. Because he’s a Swindon artist and because I’m a fan of his work. ‘Nuff said. He’s featured here several times before and if you want to explore any of the other posts you’ll find them here: https://swindonian.me/category/artscultureheritage/david-bent/
Below is a clip of David Bent talking on British Forces radio about the RAF and his exhibition.
David is a talented chap with many brushes in his pot, but he is of course, well-known for his aviation art. So in this anniversary year of the RAF this exhibition is fitting. You’ll find the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. It’s year-round centre for remembrance.
Artistic tribute to the Royal Air Force to be unveiled at National Memorial Arboretum
An exhibition by leading modern aviation artist, David Bent Hon CRAeS, is to be unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire. ‘Tribute 100’ is a new collection of work; David Bent’s personal response and tribute to the legacy and ongoing contribution of the Royal Air Force.
The Arboretum, which is part of The Royal British Legion, is hosting the exhibition to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Air Force. The RAF was formed towards the end of the First World War, on 1 April 1918, and is the oldest independent air force in the world.
On display in the Arboretum’s Remembrance Centre from 30 March to 30 June 2018, this free of charge exhibition features a selection of individual pieces by David Bent. Visitors are encouraged to spend time looking closely at the artworks to discover elements and perspectives hidden within. As with much of David’s work, ‘the more you look, the more you see’.
As an artist, David Bent is inspired by the world around him, including the relationships between social issues, human design, technology and the natural world. Over the past 18 years, David’s pioneering approach to aviation art has attracted widespread support, including among many members of the Royal Air Force and the wider aviation community. His solo exhibitions include; The Royal Air Force Museum, Russell Cotes Museum & Art Gallery, The Royal Air Force Club, St George’s, Great Western Hospital, the Crypt at St Paul’s Cathedral, Farnborough & Dubai International Airshows and the Royal International Air Tattoo.
David Bent, said: “The Royal Air Force’s attitude has always been progressive and cutting edge; out there. For me, their motto Per Ardua ad Astra – from adversity to the stars – sums them up perfectly. From the earliest days, a century of hard work, imagination, skill and courage has taken the Air Force to the extremes of modernity and 3D space. This has provided the inspiration for my new collection of work.
“Using a variety of aircraft and propeller shapes representing one hundred years, these images attempt to evoke the spirit of that propulsive force that moves them forever forward, turning theory into evermore fantastical reality. I am very pleased that this collection is being launched at such a significant and meaningful place as the National Memorial Arboretum.”
Spitfire and Hurricane Ad Astra on White – (c) Copyright David Bent 2018
Sarah Oakden, Head of Marketing at the National Memorial Arboretum, said: “This exciting exhibition will allow visitors to explore an amazing collection of colourful works that celebrate the contributions of the Royal Air Force. Our new Remembrance Centre has allowed us to host a series of inspiring and engaging temporary exhibitions and this selection of vivid images from David Bent is a brilliant cultural addition and an important component of our programme marking the centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force. We will have a wide range of RAF 100 events and activities taking place between April and July and further information will be available on our website over the coming weeks.”
If you’ve been paying attention at all listeners, you’ll have noticed that, over the last few months I’ve shared stories from friends and clients that I felt fitted with the notion of Switch on to Swindon. I had every intention of doling a round-up at the back end of last year but never got round to it. So, seeing this article from the Swindon Advertiser on social media kicked me into action. Just about a whole year has gone by since the SOT campaign launched. Yikes! Happy anniversary SOT! Pop the corks!
2017 has been a busy old year for me. With personal, blogging and business stuff via AA Editorial Services. The high point for me came late in the year with a contact, via this blog, from a Glocs based publishing house. The upshot of all that being I now have a commission to write a book about Swindon. Double yikes!
Anyway, simply so they’re all in one place, and starting with my own (and why not?!) are some SOT stories. Some of them, like myself, are SOT ambassadors. But all of them have positive things to say about our fabulous town.
And finally a couple from the Switch on to Swindon website. David Bent – because he’s a friend and I can. But also because I like what he says. Below is the strapline from his SOT story. I like that because it is. Swindon IS surprising and has so much going on. He’s not wrong!
I was keen to get to see David to get a good gander at one of his latest aviation related works: ‘Circus’ – having only had a glimpse of it until now. So here it is with its artist.
But what and who I particularly want to talk about in this post is Tim Carroll, some of his work, and his book ‘100 Views of Swindon’.
Tim’s work came onto horizon some time ago now – well before I knew him – when I bought a small piece of his from Artsite and the Post Modern. I hung my nose over it for long enough and hemmed and hawed so in the end I bought it – despite being skint. I love it. I’m can’t explain why – I just do. And – as I’ve explained in this post – that’s enough! As far as I’m concerned anyway. Here it is:
Tim uses this motif a lot – sometimes in ceramic form. Others in painted form. Sometime they are more rounded – but I like the angular nature of this one. I like to think of then as synchronized swimmers.
100 views of Swindon
The other thing I wanted to talk about on here is Tim’s 100 views of Swindon. Doing a Ronseal this is exactly what it says it is: a collection of paintings that comprises 100 personal and intimate views of Swindon. #obvs
I love these paintings. I love the style and I love the colours. And yes, I love them because they’re of Swindon. I also love because they don’t focus on the iconic and what one might consider to be the picturesque but rather prosaic, everyday Swindon scenes. The ones that we see all the time but yet rarely notice.
And now Tim’s collected them all together in to a lovely little book.
As it says in the book’s foreward: ‘… Tim’s 100 Views of Swindon wholeheartedly embraces the town from his own perspective; at street level, peering round a corner or over a rooftop. He brings urban scenes to life by accepting the awkward angles from which you might approach them, including what might be considered obstructions to the view such as street signs and parked cars.’
It’s a super collection of work. When I was deciding which to buy I had a terrible time selecting one. And there had to be a choice as I simply don’t have the wall space. In the end I plumped for one that featured the David Murray John tower because I love that building. So I’ve contented myself with that one and a few others in postcard form – notably The Blondinis. This post shows Tim, a few years back now, doing some restoration work on this gorgeous and exuberant piece of public art.
Print by Tim Carroll – one of his 100 views of Swindon
NB: Eggelicious are now in the new food court, The Crossing in the Brunel Centre. And E2 on Wood Street.
Of course, what we have here is bit of artistic foreshadowing what with the tented market now earmarked for demolition. So not only is 100 views a super affordable (£10) coffee table book that’s a perfect gift for any Swindonian it’s also a unique record of a town that was three years in the making!
The gorgeous book is available from the central library on Regent Circus or from Linda Kasmaty. If you’re a Twitter user look for @kasmaty
I do like share a bit of good news on this blog listeners. And this is certainly that.
Now if it were left to me I’d have a place in Swindon’s art collection for dozens of Swindon artists. But until that’s possible it’s great that, in addition to works by the fabulous Ken White, both Creative Wiltshire and Swindon Borough Council have acquired works by David Bent. Because they both absolutely deserve to be there. So hurrah!
Swindon Borough Council are delighted to announce their most recent acquisitions to the Collections via the Creative Wiltshire project
‘These new works include a stunning landscape painting and prints by local artist David Bent. The painting, Beach House West of Looe, from David’s Landscape Geometry series will go on display from 19 July until 18 November as part of ‘The Lie of the Land exhibition’, which explores Modern British Landscapes from the Swindon Collection. This exhibition will also feature artists such as Richard Long, Mary Fedden, Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell.
The Museum and Art Gallery has also obtained two prints from his innovative Aerobot photo collage collection which were first exhibited at the nearby Royal International Air Tattoo. David is credited as leading a new movement in modern aviation art.
This work has been purchased by the Creative Wiltshire project, which aims to acquire works by creative people across Swindon and Wiltshire.
The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and also recently secured a work by Swindon artist Ken White for the Swindon Collection as well as ceramics by Sasha Wardell, Trevor Chaplin and Patricia Volk, paintings by David Rolt, and prints by Howard Hodgkin and Joe Tilson.
Creative Wiltshire has also purchased David’s work (including books, a box set of Movement 2000 and prints) for the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre and said “We are delighted that Swindon has acquired these wonderful works by David Bent. David is a talented and popular artist who has such a strong connection with Swindon and the surrounding area. It has been a pleasure working with David to select the works for Swindon and for the History centre and we feel they provide a fitting tribute to David’s long career. We hope visitors will enjoy discovering his work in forthcoming exhibitions.”
David said: “I am proud to have my work represented in the prestigious Swindon collection, sitting alongside works created by a number of great artists that have inspired and influenced me. I am equally pleased that the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre have chosen to acquire a number of pieces.”
For further information please contact Nicki Western, Marketing Manager, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, 01793 466560 or firstname.lastname@example.org‘
David Bent David Bent lives and works in Swindon. His long career has taken him all over the world. Born in Dover, he has travelled extensively. His art shows the influences of the places he has visited, as well as his fascination with current affairs. In recent years he has been strongly associated with the Red Arrows, who have inspired a number of paintings within his Art of Flight series. David was recently awarded the rare distinction of Honorary Companionship of the Royal Aeronautical Society in tribute to his work. He is the first artist in 30 years to be awarded this.
Question: The Aerobots series is a departure for you. What was your inspiration?
David Bent: I am inspired and led to a certain extent by my general interest in science and technology, but nature and the human condition are also big influences on me. As a practicing artist, I always aim to infuse my work with the power of personal observation, skill and insights.
For me the relationship between Art, Science and Mathematics can be described as a drawn circle with a small gap at the end. Art is at one end of the open circle and science at the other. They are very close if you are prepared to jump the gap, if not you have to travel all the way around the circle and they become a long way apart. I like to jump the gap.’
Creative Wiltshire Creative Wiltshire is a five year project which started in 2015 and aims to acquire work by creative people from Swindon and Wiltshire to fill significant gaps in the collections across Wiltshire.
Wiltshire Local Studies, based at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham, received £178,000 HLF Collecting Cultures grant towards the five year project totalling £213,550 and materials are being acquired by accredited museums in the county of Wiltshire and Borough of Swindon, including Swindon Museum and Art Gallery and the Salisbury Museum.
When I first started this blog I was familiar with the work of Ken White. As time went by, and due entirely to Katie Hopkins (it’s a long story which I’m prepared to dine out on. 😉 ) I came across David Bent.
Since then I’ve got to know Caroline Day, Susan Carr and Terry Humphries, the lovely people at Artiste and the Post Modern and Tim Carroll. Most of them have been represented on this blog with the exception of Tim Carroll. And that situation must be adressed soon.
This post though features David Bent. Because I wanted to mention that he’s exhibiting at London’s RAF Club during July and August 2017.
I must stress that this exhibition is hosted by the RAF club for their members. But don’t despair! Many of the pieces can be seen in Swindon – the Swindon Open Studios event is a perfect opportunity. Indeed a number of the originals can be seen at Open Studios – something that David has taken part in since 2002.
This painting was also included in the exhibition at the RAF Museum , London 2012 – 2013 that David and his lovely wife took 60 kids from Churchfields Academy too … & introduced them to the Red Arrows. Lucky them!