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 email@example.com‘
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.
I am the mural man, I come from far away and I can paint – yes I can paint. What can you paint – I can paint murals!
‘It’s a small world’. A cliché? Yup. But true. And listeners it doesn’t get much truer than this!
In the early days of this blog I devised a list of things to celebrate about Swindon. And on that list I placed Ken White. A son of Swindon, Ken has made his mark on the world literally and figuratively with his artistic talent.
I’m fortunate in recent years to have got to know David, and his fabulous wife Carole, very well. And it was on a recent visit to David’s studio – Swindon Open Studios maybe? – anyway – that I learned that he too had been a mural painter back in the day.
In a wonderful bit of symmetry that life, the universe and everything (42) is full of it turns out there was a time when, unknown and unbeknownst to each other, they were painting murals in London with only a street or two between them. David was working as a youth worker specialising in art project work and Ken was working on one of his famous commissions for Richard Branson – he of the Virgin empire. As Carole herself said, it’s not impossible that they drank in the same pubs.
And now here they are, living in the same town, still painting. Though no muriels sadly. That said – if anyone is offering I’ve got a garden wall crying out…
The image below shows an article in a 1979 issue of The Telegraph featuring both David Bent and Ken White painting their murals in London at the same time. Like I said – it’s a small world. Albeit with big murals. And pots and pots of pots of paint.
‘I’m the kind of girl that things naturally happen to. When they don’t, I give them a push’.
A Diana Dors Blue Plaque. Well! It’s not every day you see a candy pink Cadillac in Old Town that’s for sure. How come? The occasion of the unveiling of a blue plaque to commemorate someone that surely must rank as Swindon’s most famous daughter? None other than Diana Dors!
And about time too I say. So all kudos and thanks to the people of the now extinct Swindon Heritage magazine for adding Diana to the growing number of blue plaques gracing Swindon’s walls.
We’ve so far got Edith New, Swindon’s suffragette, and the Starr brothers – now Diana joins them.
It’s really kinda odd. When I watched Diana Dors in films and TV when I was growing up who would’ve thought I’d end up living in the town that was her birthplace? I like that. I’ve always been something of a fan.
Dors was often given the epithet of the ‘British Marilyn Monroe’ – but I think that’s to do her an injustice. She was a fine actress. And one that we can argue never reached her full potential.
Jason Lake, Dor’s son (from her final marriage to Alan Lake) and her granddaughter Ruby – who I fancy has a look of Diana about her – unveiled the plaque.
Diana’s Infamous Pink Car
Here’s the car that serves as a mytonomy, well a Thunderbird and Ford Mustang too I guess, of the American Dream that was so incongruously parked on a street in Old Town today. Isn’t it amazing? How wonderful must it have been to drive around in that in the Hollywood sunshine? So, so cool. I’m so jealous.
Below you’ll find an Amazon shop of Diana Dors related media products. I have an affiliate programme set up with Amazon. Should you click through and buy something I get a little bag of glittery poo – or similar. Thank you!
David Bent, Russell-Cotes and a bender round Bournemouth
David Bent at Russell-Cotes. Well I say bender. It was more a sedate meander with Carole Bent around the wonderful Russell-Cotes museum, David’s exhibition there and beautiful Bournemouth on the best, brilliantly sunny and perfect day.
David is currently exhibiting at the Russell-Cotes museum so Carole kindly took me down there to visit as she had a meeting there. While she was busy doing important meeting stuff I was lucky enough to have a gander around this utter gem of a place. I’d never heard of it let alone been to it – and if you haven’t then you must! Preferably while David’s exhibition is still running because his art is wonderful and worth seeing always – but just generally too.
So now you get the pleasure of some of my characteristically out-of-focus photos – it’s my trademark okay?
And yes – I KNOW this blog is about Swindon not Bournemouth but David has lived here for eons now so he’s as much a Swindonian as I am. And he and Carole are involved in many Swindon things and this is his art and anyway – as I’ve said many times – there’s no point having a bloody blog if you can’t give a shout-out to friends. So here we are. 😉
In that five I included two songs by a talented young Swindon man by the name of Hitesh Mistry. But this post is dedicated entirely to Hitish and his newest song: ‘Higher’. He wants to get lots of views on it on his YouTube channel #obvs. So if you click on the link below and have a listen he’d be highly delighted I’m sure.
Hitesh lives in West Swindon and his videos are so far all made around Swindon. So, if nothing else it’s quite fun seeing what you recognise.
15 years old and the son of Ash & Sheela, owners of the Eggelicious empire, Hitesh is the youngest member of the clan. He’s been writing songs since he was 11.
Much like the subject matter of this collection of eight paintings – refugees, migrants and people on the move generally – Movement 2000, by Swindon-based artist David Bent is looking for a home. One in which they can be viewed, absorbed and digested at length. All of which they certainly need and deserve.
Before I go any further, I should state that I’m in no way an art expert. I know nothing of the art world nor do I know anything about the discourse of art. But, as with a piece of music that either appeals to my ear or it doesn’t, so it is with art. It appeals to my eye or it doesn’t. And I’m not much interested in art for art’s sake – merely art that I like. And I DO like David’s art. Pretty much all of it. So there! Right, now I’ve got that off my chest we’ll move on.
But of course, as you’d expect from a prolific and talented artist, there’s more bristles in his paintbrush than that.
And his Movement 2000 works, two years in the making, are just one example.
I wouldn’t like to say that this collection is the most important or best work David has produced – who know what lies ahead? But nevertheless I reckon the term ‘Magnum Opus’ is an appropriate enough description for these works.
On a visit to David’s Open Studio I got a glimpse of this body of work and a sense of its importance to David. But it was just a glimpse – other visitors etc, etc. So David kindly invited me to his studio again to have a proper look at them and to tell me more about the collection.
So I learnt from David that it was in the late 1990s as we headed towards the millennium, that he was inspired, moved, driven even to create a major piece of work to celebrate and to mark the world’s calendars turning over into a new century.
He wanted these paintings to make a big visual statement. And they do – in every sense of the word ‘big’.
Choosing ‘Movement’ as the umbrella title for this group of paintings David was inadvertently prescient as around this time the Balkan/Yugoslav conflict was raging. And of course, wherever there is conflict there are refugees. People on the move seeking sanctuary.
And never were these paintings more relevant than they are today. Sixteen years later the world is seeing the greatest exodus of people possibly since Biblical times. And, interestingly enough, ‘The Christening Party’ features an obvious Biblical reference.
The Circle of life
I’m loathe to say much on what the paintings are ‘about’ as we each take different things from art. But I’m sure David won’t mind my saying that, although full of detail, they are also pretty easy to deconstruct. As far as I’m concerned that’s a virtue.
What goes around comes around and the circularity of the world and of life is, I think, central to these paintings. As is the notion that where we are in life is largely an accident of birth. ‘There but for the Grace of God go I’.
On a slighter lighter note I think it’s safe to say that planes, trains and automobiles – and ships – feature in these works also – though you might have to look for them. So there’s movement literally as well as metaphorically.
Conceived as an installation piece, these paintings demand that you spend some time with them. They work on more than one level for sure. Certainly the more you look at them then the more you see. Get close up and you see one thing – step back and you see another. Then once that ‘thing’ is seen you can’t stop seeing it.
With a broad geographical theme, they’re structured works, each of them running from right to left, then from left to right with a central focus and detail along the bottom of them. Like much of David’s work there’s lots of personal detail in them too. Himself as a teenager, his dad, his brother – people, places and things that have resonances for him are peppered throughout the paintings.
David’s ideal home for the works is a sort of rotunda with ten sides. Each of eight sides will house one painting, one side for information and the tenth side missing to form an entrance.
From the exterior it looks rather like a temporary shelter/a yurt like structure such as might be seen in refugee camps – as is fitting with the subject matter of the paintings with ‘Home Sweet Home’ above the door.
It has a central post with mirrors on allowing for a different perspective and a solar panel on the roof. I don’t think President Obama comes with the paintings though …
The pictures below of David’s model ideal home gives a better idea than me trying to describe it.
Aside from a period in 2009 when they were exhibited in Swindon’s Artsite building they’ve not left the studio.
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing for these works about movement to do some moving of their own to a new home where they can be appreciated fully?