We were fortunate enough to have a wonderful evening with Janet Boulton in conversation with Curator Sophie Cummings. It was our last event of 2017, and a real treat for those who have admired Janet’s exhibition: A Seeming Diversity: that was on show in the gallery until 20 January 2018.
‘Janet Boulton is internationally known for her watercolours and paper relief works, but few know of her connections to Swindon. This exhibition celebrates her works on paper and will include paintings inspired by music, still life and gardens.
Boulton was born in Swindon. After art school, she returned to the town and worked as an art teacher at Swindon College, Commonweal and Hreod Parkway. In 1977, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery hosted her exhibition, ‘Windows and Reflections’, inspired by her views from classrooms in the town. Since the late 1970s, she has worked at Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden at Little Sparta, the Villa La Pietra, and the Garden Museum. Her work is in public and private collections in the UK and abroad.
This exhibition is a welcome return to Swindon from this important artist. It celebrates both her innovative use of watercolour and her engagement with nature, beauty, architecture and music.’
The evening started with the premier viewing of Janet’s beautiful film to accompany the exhibition, made by Zuleika Kingdon.
After watching the film, Sophie asked Janet about her teaching experiences in Swindon and Abingdon, where she moved in 1977. Janet worked part time as an art teacher for many years, and continued to develop her own practice.
I was particularly interested in Janet’s paintings of Barnsley House garden which I was fortunate enough to visit when the late great Rosemary Verey was pottering around the garden and keen to talk to anyone looking round and showing an interest. Developing and painting gardens are important themes in Janet’s work, she is a very keen gardener and has invited 10 Friends to look round her garden in the summer. There are still 8 spaces if you’d like to come, please let me know, date to be arranged.
Other themes featured in the exhibition include still life with bottles and lines, ‘eye music’ and paper relief works .
Three of Janet’s earlier works, currently on display in the Paper exhibition in the larger part of the gallery, have been gifted by Wiltshire Council’s Creative Wiltshire project
, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
One of the works, ‘Physics Room Window, Hreod Burna Senior High School’, it was painted in 1974 when coincidentally I was teaching Science at Hreod Burna, so our paths crossed all those years ago. The school was named Hreod Burna after the stream that ran through the school grounds, it has now been rebranded as Hreod Parkway, it was Hreod Burna when Janet and I taught there.