Saturday, 16 July 2011

Highworth Roman Pot

Dr Phil Parkes from Cardiff University analysed the staples on our Roman Pot from Highworth on 20 June 2011 at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Chippenham, where the pot is being conserved.

Analysis was carried out using a hand-held X-ray fluorescence analyzer with the aim of identifying the metal alloy used to make the staples. The spectra from the analyses showed that the staples consist of lead. A small amount of iron was also visible due to dirt on the surface of the staples.

Dr Phil Parkes says, 'The use of lead staples to repair vessels is well recorded in Roman Britain (Fulford and timby, 2001). Although more commonly associated with Samian Ware, it has occasionally been used with coarseware, where sherds can be found with a hole drilled near to a break edge for the staple repair.

The results of the analysis indicated that the vessel was repaired in Roman times.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Amazing Magic Lantern Show

A Magic Lantern Show by Patrick Furley will be held in the Art Gallery Friday 13 May 7.30 – 9.00 pm. This is a Museums at Night event.

It is an entertainment from the days before the advent of the cinema and television and gives a little bit of magic lantern history too!

Patrick will show many different kinds of magic lanterns and original slides from around 1860 to the 1920s.

Plus you can see ‘Picturing the Past’ exhibition

A journey through Swindon Museum’s collection of photographs and photographic equipment from magic lantern slides, Victorian family albums and stereoscopic viewers to digital technology including a great display of novelty cameras.

Exhibition is free
Talk Tickets: £4.50, £3.50 (Friends of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery)
Telephone: 01793 466556

Artist Ray Ward called in today to discuss an Open Studios project to be held at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery during this year's Swindon Open Studios in September.

On eight separate days between 7 September and 17 September Ray will stage 8 museum pop up exhibitions using quirky collections from elsewhere, one per day. The specific dates are:

7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16 and 17 September.

As we develop the idea, more news will appear in the blog so keep reading.

By the way, in the photograph, Ray is looking at a DVD he produced showing historic postcards from the museum collections which can be seen on Flickr at

They show Swindon people and environs including outlying villages.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Collecting with an artist's eye - Hans Coper

The current ceramics exhibition 'Collecting with an artist's eye' features work by Joanna Constantinidis, Hans Coper and Lucie Rie.

Hans Coper allied himself with two groups of makers. Firstly with the anonymous potters of the distant past and of tribal cultures, whose artefacts were refined by endless repetition and who saw no separation between form and decoration. Secondly with certain twentieth century artists whose work is the result of a compulsion to get closer and closer to a basic truth. In Hans' own words, '... like a demented piano tuner one is trying to approximate a phantom pitch.' Hans Coper admired fellow artists such as Brancusi, Giacometti plus Beckett, Stravinsky and Chagall. LIke Coper they were all ex-patriates who left their home country and settled in another land where their art flourished.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Ceramics Photography

Peter Benson, a professional photographer, who photographed the modern ceramics collection, delivered the photographs to us today complete with a poster idea shown on this page. The photographs are stunning! Peter photographed over 100 ceramic pieces and took great care to produce informative and aesthetically pleasing images. Many of these artworks are currently on display in the museum and art gallery. Why not come and visit?

Friday, 26 November 2010

Pottery 'Toys'

We have three unusual ‘pots’ in the Swindon Collection of Studio Ceramics: a train set, a Volkswagen car and a row of Victorian houses all made out of clay, of course, and currently on display in the art gallery.

The train tea set by “Wez” has an engine, a tender, trucks and barrels. The engine is a tea pot. The tender and trucks act as holders for the barrels from which one can drink tea, in theory at least as this is an art gallery piece. For pottery enthusiasts the set is slip cast.

The green Volkswagen car was made by Shona Small when she was a student at Bristol College of art back in 1977. She kindly donated the piece to our collection. It is shiny dark green and black with red, orange, white and matt black enamels with silver lustre trims and black and white checks. A truly colourful object.

By contrast the derelict terrace houses are very subtly coloured and very detailed. Victorian House 1977 by Ian Beamish is a realistic sculpture of three partly demolished five-storey Victorian houses. It is painted in subtle browns, pink and green and was purchased from the potter in 1977.

Visitor Comments

I just had to share with you the most recent comments from the art gallery comments book. They include:

"Worth the train ride from Bristol. Thanks."
"A pleasure to visit this exhibition."
"It's wicked!"
"We enjoyed the children's room and making a puppet show, and this room is the biggest room I've ever seen in the world. From Freya (nearly 4)

and my favourite:

"Good use of the rates over the years"

Why not come in and share your responses with us?