All talks and trips have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
We are hoping this is a postponement of activities and we hope to run the talks and trips we have planned as soon as it is safe to do so.
skip to Main Content

Desmond Morris famous zoologist, ethologist and surrealist painter, as well as a popular author in human sociobiology, is known for his 1967 book The Naked Ape, and for his television programmes such as Zoo Time. His Wikipedia entry mentions that he was born in Purton, his family moved into Swindon when he was a child and his grandfather, William Morris founded the Evening Advertiser. What the Wikipedia entry does not say is that Desmond Morris has been Patron of the Friends ever since their inception 26 years ago! When he received a copy of the latest magazine, he was very pleased when he saw the image of ‘Girl Selling Flowers‘ on the front cover. This painting, a great favourite, was painted in 1948 when Desmond was 18.
Desmond emailed me to say that he would like to give the Friends a Christmas present. We could go and choose a painting of our choice from Rona’s Gallery in Oxford. I contacted Rona Marsden, the gallery owner, and in early January, three of us travelled to Oxford on the bus, met Rona and had a look around the gallery. I took photographs to record what was a very exciting morning.


Here’s the gallery from the pavement:

and in a bit closer:

I’ve taken photos of the paintings on the walls to give an idea of the choice we had to make…

Here are Tim Carroll and Erik Burnett-Godfree discussing the paintings, and how to make the choice…

These paintings were brought out of the window…

And here is Rona showing us a copy of one of Desmond’s books…

More chatting…

Three paintings that were in the window, were turned round for us to look at…

It’s interesting looking back at the process we went through in order to make our final choice.

I was keen on this one, and if I had gone on my own, might have chosen this one, not properly represented here because Rona’s Gallery is a pop up shop, and was a Russell and Bromley shoe shop, the fixtures and fittings, including the lighting were intended for showing shoes to their best advantage, so the white spots seen on the painting are spotlights.

These two were strong contenders at one part of the process…

While waiting for a decision about which painting to choose, I took a couple more photos…

And we have made our choice, Rona is showing us the title of the painting.

And here’s a lovely picture of Rona with our painting, with a lot of reflection from the lights!

I noticed there was a mirror which might give us an interesting photo…

Here is a close up of our new Desmond Morris painting which we love. As before, the white spots are reflections on the glass…

I finally took a photo of Rona filling in the paperwork for the painting, she then wrapped it beautifully and it was not opened again until it was shown to the Friends attending a Private View on the 21st of January.

We would like to extend a big thank you to Desmond Morris for this kind gift for the Swindon Collection, and belatedly wish him a happy 92nd birthday.
As Desmond noted, we now have an early, middle and late Morris in the Collection.

Back To Top