Presenting 18th-century English drinking glasses

Recently, as research curator at Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, I gave a ‘Friday Focus’ talk about the new display of 18th-century English drinking glasses that I have curated. This talk looked at the collector of the glasses, including an aspect of his life in Leamington, and then considered the different types of glasses that were created throughout the 18th century – and the various techniques used to decorate them. Lastly, I looked at why I chose to display the collection as I did:

Background to the collection and collector

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‘The Collector’ by Henry Holland, 1918, LSAG&M

This display highlights a selection of Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum’s collection of 160 English drinking glasses from the 18th century. They were purchased from the collector Francis Jahn in 1955 with the help of the National Art Collections Fund and the V&A Purchase Fund.

Jahn, who was born in 1871 and died in 1967, was a collector of oriental art, ceramics and 18th-century glasses. He followed his German father, Louis Jahn, a curator at the Hanley Museum, who built up a vast private collection of 18th-century Staffordshire pottery during his lifetime, which he left to his son. Many of the finest items were later bequeathed by Francis Jahn himself to Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum.  Continue reading

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In memory of Bristol architect Colin Beales

Bristol architect Colin Beales

Bristol architect Colin Beales

This information is on display at The Beales Bequest exhibition at The Ken Stradling Collection.

The collage of photographs

The photographs within the collage displayed in The Beales Bequest exhibition at The Ken Stradling Collection include some of the buildings that Colin designed or worked on during his career as a successful Bristol architect. Derek Balmer took many of the professional photographs of the buildings and their interiors.

Collage wall at Colin's old flat

Collage wall at Colin’s old flat

The images have been arranged in a collage formation, which is reminiscent of Colin’s way of working on architectural projects. It is also similar to the collage wall in his old flat at 19 West Mall. A photograph of this collage is featured. It provides a wide range of inspirational images, from furniture, sculpture and food, to even a cat.

The Dickinson Robinson building

The Dickinson Robinson building

 

The Dickinson Robinson Building, or 1 Redcliffe Street

The Dickinson Robinson Building, or 1 Redcliffe Street, was the headquarters for Dickinson Robinson Group (DRG) in Bristol, designed by its own architecture department and completed in 1963. Modern buildings were accepted for DRG’s factories, so they were eventually persuaded that a modern building for their headquarters would be appropriate too.  Continue reading

Bertoia’s Diamond Chair in ‘The Beales Bequest’ exhibition

This article is published on The Ken Stradling Collection blog

Colin Beales sitting in The Diamond Chair

Colin Beales sitting in The Diamond Chair

Harry Bertoia, an Italian-American sculptor, university lecturer and furniture designer, created The Diamond Chair in 1952 for the firm Knoll International. It comprises of a series containing a small and large version of the chair, a chair with an raised back and a footstall, a child’s chair and a bar chair. The Knoll website refers to them as the ‘wire collection’, and this post illustrates the classic Diamond Chair, The Bird Chair and The Side Chair from this collection. The chairs are sculptural, sturdy and functional; they are surprisingly comfortable and supportive.

Most chairs in the mid twentieth century were made of wood, so it was relatively novel that a chair like Bertoia’s Diamond Chair was made with steel. This technique of using steel was familiar to Bertoia due to his experimental work as a sculptor. The fluid lines of the bent metal are pleasing to the eye and unusual in furniture design.

The chairs holds an interesting shape from all sides. Although wide, the spaces between the wires give it a quality of lightness and airiness, so it doesn’t seem to impose upon a space. This makes it an appropriate chair for a small or minimalist room.

Continue reading

Etchings in ‘The Beales Bequest’ exhibition

This post is published on The Ken Stradling Collection blog

Jennifer Beales's etching of Brandon Hill, Bristol

Jennifer Beales’s etching of Brandon Hill, Bristol

Dispersed among the beautiful array of objects in the current exhibition, The Beales Bequest, at The Ken Stradling Collection are clusters of Jennifer Beales’ own artworks. She made many oil paintings and etchings, particularly during the 1970s and 80s when she took printing classes at The Bristol School of Art. These illustrate domestic interiors, many of which were familiar or personal to Jennifer. There are also unusual views from windows and into art studios.

Most of the places depicted are in Bristol. Jennifer always had a little sketchbook in her bag to capture details around the city, as well as further afield. She loved travelling and her art reflects this; it often depicts picturesque Italian towns or countryside.

Oil painting of Tuscany by Jennifer Beales

Oil painting of Tuscany by Jennifer Beales

Humour is another theme in Jennifer’s etchings, which is enhanced by their short and considered titles. For Jennifer, art was a creative way of socialising and having fun, as well as understanding the world around her and recording special moments. Some of the works that particularly stand out as being humorous are those illustrating cameos within art exhibitions. We eagerly stare at the etched figures that in turn thoughtfully consider Impressionist paintings within the frame of the print. This suggests a playful exploration of what it is to look at art and to be aware that we are its viewer.  Continue reading

The opening of The Beales Bequest exhibition at The Ken Stradling Collection

The Beales Bequest PosterA version of this article is on The Ken Stradling Collection website

From tomorrow, Wednesday 14th January, the latest exhibition at The Ken Stradling Collection will be open to the public. I have co-curated this show, entitled The Beales Bequest, and wrote the gallery’s information texts. I also contribute to their blog, and will be writing a series of blog posts about individual objects featured in this exhibition.

The Beales Bequest revolves around the eclectic objects that a Bristol architect and founding trustee of The Ken Stradling Collection left with his artist wife to the Collection when they died last year.

Colin and Jennifer Beales were great friends with Ken Stradling. Colin often drove around Bristol with Ken, and they travelled together to parts of Europe, to view or purchase furniture, ceramics and art. He in particular had a long association with The Bristol Guild. Jennifer also made significant contributions, such as formulating the title of the Collection’s catalogue, “The Incidental Collector”, which Colin helped to write and edit.

On display in the exhibition there will be a great variety of ceramics by many important British makers from the 20th and 21st centuries. Think Dan Arbeid (who The Guardian has described as “one of the pioneers of unconventional vessel-based handbuilt forms”), Mick Casson, Stig Lindberg and Herbert Krenchel.

There will also be bold and often humorous pieces of glasswork and sculpture, as well photographs of Colin’s main architectural projects and some of the Beales’ own art – pottery, etchings and paintings – exhibited too.

The Beales Bequest will be open to view every Wednesday 10 – 4pm and by appointment until 11th March (the exhibition has been extended beyond the original date of the 4th February).

Pieces by Stig Lindberg, Erik Hoglund and Herbert Krenchel

Pieces by Stig Lindberg, Erik Hoglund and Herbert Krenchel

 

Crafts Magazine: another review published

I was very pleased when the editor of Crafts Magazine contacted me to commission a review of Ellen Sampson’s current exhibition at Northampton Gallery. Sampson is a shoe designer and and is also over half way through a PhD at the RCA where she is exploring the affective life of shoes.

My review is published in the January – February issue of Crafts Magazine, 2015. My copy of the magazine arrived on New Years eve: 2015 has got off to a good start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See my earlier blog post about the first writing commission that I received from my favourite crafts magazine, which is attached to Crafts Council.

 

‘Plaster reproduction in the context of 3D printing’

Published on the UCL Art Museum blog

DSC_0017-2-300x211Mona Hess, the project co-ordinator of the Petrie Museum’s 3D imaging project, curated a Pop-Up display this November on 3D printing and scanning at UCL Art Museum. 3D printing is a new and high profile phenomenon that started in 2007. The aim of the Petrie research has been to make use of the opportunities this technology creates in the museum space, such as engaging with a diverse and wide audience through the creation of 3D objects.

This Pop-Up workshop wove together film clips of low cost 3D scanning to demonstrate how different types of technology works, as well as addressing techniques first-hand with the use of a mini hand scanner.  Continue reading