Years ago, in my early years in Swindon, I recall going to the Arts Centre in Swindon and there being an old-fashioned vending machine there. You put your £1 coin and out popped a little box of art. Oh I thought this was simply the best thing. I still have the mini art works I got from that vending machine collected together in a display box.
But then the winds of changed blew: the Arts Centre was re-furbed (TBH I preferred it before) and the art box disappeared. *sad face*
But Lo! Some years later, visiting artists during Swindon Open Studies, I went to the home/studio of Tim Carroll. And – to my delight – there on the wall in the hall was an art box vending machine. Yay! Not the one I remember but another one. It turns out there was more than one back in the day.
‘ In collaboration with likeminded artist Gordon Dickinson, we found old KitKat and condom vending machines and converted them into one-pound coin operated dispensing machines of original art. These were a great success. We had several machines around town – in The Beehive, The Victoria and the Arts Centre. The pressure of producing hundreds of small art objects each month and keeping the machines operating smoothly eventually proved too much for us and the only machine still in action today is at my house.’
Swindon Open Studios
The fantastic community art event that is Swindon Open Studios is coming next month. Dates below. Brochures in the library and all over Old Town including the museum and art gallery. My favourite artists are taking part, including Tim Carroll, Ken White and David Bent. And many more besides! Check the website and the brochure to find out who’s doing what and when and where.
Since the first open studios fifteen years ago, the event has taken place annually, being organised by a committee of volunteers since 2008. After that the committee settled upon September as a good month because it didn’t clash with any other open studios events in the area.
It’s held over two weekends in September, to give flexibility to visitors, some of whom visit a few studios of their choosing one weekend. Though others try and visit all 60 odd studios over two weekends. It’s now a permanent fixture on the cultural scene in Swindon, attracting more visitors each year.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Call 07768 917466
The arts and crafts fair has a super selection of stuff. Among those represented are Tim Carroll – a great opportunity to get a copy of his 100 views of Swindon book. Just the best gift for someone – or a treat for yourself.
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
‘The economy of Swindon has, pre-predominately over the years, depended on Land, agriculture and livestock markets. William de Valence, Earl of Pembroke (½ brother of Henry III) is recorded as having held a market in Swindon from 1259. It is from these records that the name Swindon first appears, as well as ‘Chepyng Swindon’ in 1289 and ‘Market Swindon’ in 1336.
Although Thomas Goddard was granted a weekly market and two fairs a year in 1626, the Market in Swindon was in decline by 1640. However a cattle plague hit nearby Highworth in 1652, allowing Swindon’s livestock sales to increase. In 1672, John Aubrey remarked “Here on Munday every weeke a gallant Markett for Cattle, which increased to its new greatnese upon the plague at Highworth.”
Swindon Market was one of the 32 weekly markets held throughout Wiltshire up to 1718.
In 1814, John Britton passed through Swindon and recorded 1,600 people and 263 houses in the town. He also wrote of the weekly corn market, fortnightly cattle market and regular Horse sales. However, by the mid-19th century the cattle market was poorly attended.
A new Cattle Market site was built in 1873 to try to revive the Market, a site which remained until the late 1980s when the final auction was held. There is no longer a Cattle Market in modern Swindon.’
So the tented market is now to be demolished and proposals are in for a change of usage. What ever your thoughts on that, my personal opinion is one of sadness that the market is going. Not the structure per se – it’s a the end of its lifespan – but the concept of there being a market.
Indeed this feeling is echoed by Ash Mistry, owner of Eggelicious. Ash started his business in the tented market back in 2009 and is grateful to it as a place that gave him a start. In this brief YouTube clip you can hear him say just that:
Ash has now moved Eggelicious – or E3 as it’s called (E2 is on Wood Street). Here’s a couple of snaps taken while it was being got ready for opening:
And here they are on the last day of trading in the tented market:
The Mistry family on the last day of trading in the tented market
Print by Tim Carroll – one of his 100 views of Swindon
‘This work was commissioned just before the Swindon rail works was closed and made in association with the British Rail craftsmen. It was commissioned by the then Thamesdown Borough Council with financial assistance from Sun Alliance Insurance Group, Southern Arts, British Alcan and Metalfast Limited.’
The sculptor was Jon Clinch and were formed from Foundry cast aluminium alloy (LM6).
What that doesn’t say is that this sculpture was the absolute last thing made in the once great GWR works. That singular fact surely affords this sculpture a special significance?
It’s derided by many but I love it. And I STILL miss it. It’s soooooo joyful.
I recently chanced upon some photos on Facebook of Swindon-based artist Tim Carroll restoring the sculpture when it was moved from its original home in Wharf Green to its current location in a play park in Gorse Hill. This was some time ago I should add.
Now I had no idea that Tim had restored this fabulous, gorgeous sculpture – or if I did I’ve forgotten. This is quite likely.
Anyway, they’re great photos that deserve sharing. So thank you to Gordon Dickinson for letting me use them.
This wonderful, exuberant sculpture used to have a prominent position in Wharf Green. Now they’re in a play park in Gorse Hill. I do feel that’s a huge shame. I’d love to see them somewhere prominent once more.
Here they are duly titivated and in situ in Gorse Hill.