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.
Caroline Day and the Town Garden’s Artist Group: I got to know about Caroline’s work and about the group as a whole when it started appearing on my Facebook feed. Caroline kindly wrote me a lovely goest post back in 2014: https://swindonian.me/2014/02/28/old-town-gardens-art-work-swindon-living-the-dream/
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.
Here’s two of his Movement 2000 pictures:
The Christening party
See more in the post about David’s Movement 2000.
Working with the Harbour Project – The Harbour Project, in their art sessions, are exploring David’s work – in particular his use of symbolism in his “Movement 2000” paintings collection.
The hope is that they’ll exhibit some of the art work produced, alongside David’s, when he exhibits in Swindon Dance as part of refugee week, also in collaboration with Swindon175 and the Made In Swindon Art Trail. For more about Dave and his work, visit http://davidbentstudio.com or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Davidbentstudio/?fref=ts
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!
The Harbour Project:
“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 … “
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SwindonHarbour/?fref=ts
“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 … “
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/swindondancetemporary/?fref=ts
Tuesday 7th January 2014 Hello listeners. I’ve posted on here many times about the wealth of artistic and creative talent in this town. It runs the gamut from Ken White to David Bent both of whom are artists with an international reputation in their fields. But there’s just about everything imaginable in between in Swindon’s artistic cornucopia with the activities of the people at Artsite Ltd and the Old Town Gardens artist group to name but two. But of course I’m not the only person in Swindon that takes an interest in and writes about the talent of the town. The good people of Swindon Heritage Magazine also beat the drum. Thus this post is really by way of sharing a blog post from their website – you’ll see the link below. As they point out, it’s a crying shame that none of Ken’s much sought after work is included in the Borough’s otherwise very fine art collection. Hence they have now fulfilled an ambition to own two of his works which they intend to put to good use. But you can read more of that in their blog post: When heritage meets art – Swindon Heritage.
The Purpose of Art
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’ve posted about Ken White and Second Mouth.
We’ve had guest posts from Beatrice about being Out of the Centre and the fantastic Free Art Fridays. Not forgetting of course Artsite and the Postmodern.
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.
And of course there’s the small but perfectly formed Museum and Art gallery in Old Town with its terrific art collection. So who needs the Guggenheim?
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.”
Read more here: http://www.telluridepleinair.com/what-plein-air Their work also was lovely and I purchased a couple of lovely large postcards featuring the bowl in the gardens and the bandstand and cafe.
September 2016 – update
Since writing this post back whenever it was I’ve now written about David Bent. Read more here:
David Bent – Choosing Swindon: https://swindonian.me/2014/09/24/david-bent-choosing-swindon/
David Bent – Movement 2000: https://swindonian.me/2015/11/02/movement-2000-art-collection-seeks-home/
Find more posts about Swindon’s amazing creatives here: https://swindonian.me/category/artscultureheritage/
I’m re-blogging this post on the blog Swindon in the Past Lane: Ken White because I agree entirely with its sentiments. Why on earth doesn’t Swindon have at least one of Ken White’s works in its undoubtedly fabulous art collection? Frances is correct – it beggars belief.
It’s bad enough that all but one of his murals are gone but the lack of anything in the art collection adds insult to injury. It’s truly lamentable!
I’m a fan of Ken’s work. So much so that I have published several posts related to him here. I gave Ken White, entirely deservedly, a place in my list of ten things to celebrate about Swindon. If you think you don’t know his work you most certainly do – he created Virgin’s famous red lady emblem for a start.
So come on SBC. Get a grip!
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Works by Swindon’s internationally-known painter Ken White in the Red Rag gallery in Bath.
From their website: “Ken White was born in Swindon in 1943. At the age of 15 he left school and followed in the footsteps of his Father and Grandfather by working in the yards of the Great Western Railway. Ken started as a rivet hotter but later became a signwriter.
At the age of 17 Ken White’s interest in art led him to take evening classes at Swindon Art School where he passed A-level art. He then moved to London and became a commercial illustrator, designing magazine and book covers. A chance meeting with a young entrepreneur named Richard Branson resulted in Ken being asked to paint a mural for a London recording studio. Branson was so impressed that he paid White a retainer for the next 26 years as his personal mural artist. He travelled all over the world, meeting many of the famous musicians and rock stars of the day, and creating murals at Virgin recording studios, mega-stores, hotels and in the Virgin airport lounges …” Read more on the link below:
Ken WHITE Modern Art and Contemporary Paintings By Ken WHITE Artist Modern.
Museum purchases painting by Swindon treasure Ken White. So thank goodness for that! Brilliant news in this article by the Swindon Link magazine that: “Thanks to the Friends of Swindon Railway Museum, the STEAM Museum has now acquired a painting produced by Swindon’s internationally acclaimed artist and muralist, Ken White. The oil on canvas painting entitled The Rivet Hotters depicts a group of GWR rivet hotters who are gathered round a brazier, making their toast at lunchtime … ‘
Ken White’s murals have been a part of Swindon’s artistic landscape for many years now, though sadly much of his work exists only in photographic records held by Swindon local. As the Link Magazine article points out it is ironic that: “there is not a single painting of Ken’s in Swindon’s art collection, although McArthur-Glen bought seven canvasses for the Designer Outlet Village, and Steam Museum have a couple of Ken’s works on loan.”
It goes on to say that Ken is saddened by the disappearance of so much of old Swindon and the demise of its heritage … he further commented that: “Swindon doesn’t know what it’s got. We should keep what we’ve got and look after our history.” And, while I don’t especially want to rant and moan on this blog, I’m rather afraid I have to agree with him. There’s an old canal bridge with once lovely painted friezes on it going to rack and ruin for a start. And then most of the contents of the West Swindon sculpture tour are in need of TLC, ‘White Horse Pacified’ in particular but they could all do with a piff up.