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Curator Sophie Cummings gave another really insightful lunchtime talk on Friday 18 October on this wonderful exhibition which reminds us how truly fabulous some of the paintings are in the collection!
In 1959, the Swindon Collection of Modern British art began a tour of 16 towns and cities of the United Kingdom.
‘From Falmouth to Sunderland, Southend-on-Sea to Bolton, thousands of museum visitors were introduced to paintings by Paul Nash, LS Lowry, Gwen John and Graham Sutherland. This new exhibition celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of this tour, which introduced the people of Britain to Swindon’s remarkable art and established the reputation of the ‘Swindon Collection’. This exhibition brings together the 44 works of art sent ‘on tour’ in 1959 and presents them alongside some of the most important acquisitions we have made in the decades since. The exhibition explores the history of the collection and the ambitions and challenges of touring so many pictures to so many places’.

There were at least 20 of us assembled to hear the talk. There’s always something new to learn about the collection and Sophie always brings it to life with anecdotes and stories. For example there was one painting that didn’t return from the tour. There’s a photograph on the wall at the far end of the gallery showing what it looked like, it depicts the platform at Swindon station, and as Sophie remarked, considering the quality of the work on tour, that painting would have been the least covetable.

 Here’s Sophie talking about Ben Nicholson’s ‘Composition in Black and White’ painted in 1933 and gifted by H.J.P.Bomford in 1946. The photo I have taken is a bit full of reflections. I’ll find a substitute soon. I had never before really appreciated this painting, but Sophie’s explanation of its qualities made me really look again, and I saw much more in it.

Another Bomford gift is a big favourite with many visitors, seen below, ‘Winter in Pendelbury’, 1943 is a beautifully captured and composed snowy scene.

What I hadn’t noticed before was the pub sign seen below, have a look next time you look at the painting.

The current ceramics exhibition is called ‘Time for Tea’ and has lots of tea related pieces. I hadn’t seen this beautiful jug before, it’s by Glyn Colledge, stoneware with painted glazes, purchased in 2014.

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