New Exhibition: ‘Under the Surface’ Paintings and Carvings by David West

Big Fish by David West © Maisie Hill 2017

Big Fish by David West © Maisie Hill 2017

For the very first time, Under the Surface brings together 70 of David West’s most important works from both private and public collections.  Spanning 60 years, it reflects the different strands of his development as a painter, sculptor and craftsman, deftly illustrating the progression and interaction between his use of paint and wood, in what is a landmark exhibition for this Dorset artist. 

Born in 1939, David West went to Sutton and Cheam School of Art (1956 – 1958) and Camberwell School of Art (1958 – 1960) where he studied painting and printmaking.  However, West found the emphasis on accuracy which was a feature of his student days too restrictive, and on leaving Camberwell he began to explore his love of decoration and strong pattern.

In the 1960s his work took an unexpected direction as he began to explore flexible ways to construct paintings within a three dimensional framework, which led naturally on to painting on wood.  Initially, wood was a substitute for canvas, but he soon became interested in its possibilities, and gradually there was more constructing and carving and less painting.

Gig and Fish by David West © Maisie Hill 2017

Gig and Fish by David West © Maisie Hill 2017

His carved wooden models are full of acute observation and humour, and reflect the strong interest West has in architecture, and the self-contained world within buildings.  His dolls houses were inspired by watching his daughter’s imaginative play, and the idea that within the basic structure of a house is a place where imagination can be released.

Some pieces portray actual houses, such as Parnham House and Forde Abbey, others are pure inventions.  Later models include a shop and theatre, and Dorset County Museum is lucky enough to have The Spode Set, a miniature theatre carved in wood based on the ‘Spode Italian’ ceramic design.  West’s woodcut prints became a natural extension of his carving.

West’s move from London to Lyme Regis in 1981 inspired in him a love of the Dorset landscape and coast, and a fascination with the ebb and flow of tides and water.  This influence can be clearly seen in his work as he began to carve sculptures based on walks along the beach at Lyme Regis.  He has taken an active part in life in Lyme Regis, and in the 1990s had a significant role in the restoration of the Town Mill, where there is a room named after him.

In fact, it was the commission to carve and gild a set of organ pipe shades for St Michael’s Church in Lyme Regis which led to using gold leaf to develop the 200 drawings inspired by his trip to Japan in 2008.  Variations of footpaths, waterfalls, fishponds and mountain streams are among the many gilded carvings and woodcut prints in the exhibition.  These were followed by works related to the Dorset landscape and coast, a series of gilded carvings, ‘Night Waves’ and ‘Moon’, combining influences from both Japan and Dorset.

Dorset County Museum is pleased to be welcoming David West back following a successful exhibition at the Museum almost 30 years ago.

This exhibition is supported by the Mansel-Playdell & Cecil Trust and PGP

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Lunch Time Concert – Dorchester Piano Quartet

Dorchester Piano QuartetOn Thursday 16 March 2017 at 1.00pm, the Dorchester Piano Quartet will be playing a lunchtime concert at Dorset County Museum.

The Dorchester Piano Trio was formed when Russell Dawson (violin) and Peter Oakes (piano) played a duo concert and Sally Flann, who was in the audience, introduced herself as a cellist who would be pleased to play Trios. After around ten years of the Dorchester Piano Trio, Russell stood down and Jenny Curiel (violin) and Pasha Willis (viola) joined Sally and Peter to form the Dorchester Piano Quartet.

This March concert includes Mozart Piano Quartet in G minor K478, Mahler Piano Quartet and Halvorsen Passacaglia for violin and viola

The concert takes place in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall on Thursday 16 March 2017 at 1.00pm. The performance is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Geology Revealed: The Late Triassic Mass Extinction Event and its Aftermath by Prof Richard Twitchett

Ichthyosaur fossil discovered at Lyme Regis © Dorset County Museum 2017

Ichthyosaur fossil discovered at Lyme Regis © Dorset County Museum 2017

One of the major mass extinction events of all time took place about 200 million years ago, triggered by volcanic activity associated with the birth of the Atlantic Ocean.  Elevated carbon dioxide levels at the time, led to global warming and associated environmental changes, some of which are similar to those we are currently experiencing. 

Southwest England contains some of the best locations to study the impacts of this extinction on marine ecosystems and this talk will outline some of the major advances that have been made recently.

Professor Richard Twitchett is a palaeontologist who has been researching the effects of Earth’s major mass extinction events for over 20 years.  Since 2014 he has been a Research Leader in environmental change at the Natural History Museum, London.  After graduating from the University of Bristol he completed his PhD at Leeds, and has undertaken research in the Americas, Asia, Europe & Australia, including fellowships at the University of Tokyo & the University of Southern California.

The forthcoming lecture will take place on Wednesday 8 March in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and is FREE to the public; however a donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 6.30pm and talks start at 7.00pm.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Literary Lives: Thomas Hardy and the Victorian School Mistress by Dr Jonathan Godshaw Memel

Kate Hardy (front left) with other teachers © DCM

Kate Hardy (front left) with other teachers © DCM

‘… she had altogether the air of a woman clipped and pruned by severe discipline, an under-brightness shining through from the depths which that discipline had not yet been able to reach.’

(Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure)

This description of Sue Bridehead during her brief time at college suggests the restrictive character of nineteenth-century teacher training. The two-year programme at Salisbury enforced standards of ‘humble femininity’ while preparing women from various social backgrounds for a vocation in the elementary schools.

Hardy’s sisters, Mary and Katharine (generally known as Kate), attended college at Salisbury while his cousin, Tryphena Sparks, trained at Stockwell.  As schoolmistresses their profession enabled greater independence from the pressure to marry, but their personal freedom was severely restricted during the process of qualifying. Trainee teachers were required to carry out extensive chores and study for long hours and their food portions were meagre. They were also subject to continual surveillance, while their choice of dress was restricted.

In this talk Dr Memel will consider representations of the work and training of female teachers in Hardy’s fiction, showing how the experiences of his female relations inspired acts of solidarity and resistance in his writing.

The forthcoming lecture will take place on Thursday 2 March in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and is FREE to the public; however a donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 7.00pm and talks start at 7.30pm.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Next Literary Lives talks:

  • Thursday 25th May, Hardy and Poetry of Encounter by Philip Mallett
  • Thursday 27th July, Mr Hardy and Mrs Henniker – an Enduring Friendship by Helen Angear
  • Thursday 14th September, The Infants’ Grammar by Dr Alan Chedzoy
  • Thursday 26th October, Hardy and Sex Education by Dr Karin Koeler

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Undersea Fun with the Dorset County Museum’s Craft Academy

craft-academy-dorset-county-museumLooking for something to do with the kids this this half term?  Come and join us for a morning of messy fun at Dorset County Museum’s Craft Academy on Wednesday 15 February 10.30am – 12.30pm

Taking inspiration from our current spotlight exhibition ‘Nautilus: Beautiful Survivor – 500 million years of evolutionary history’ based on the book by Wolfgang Grulke in the Victorian Hall children will have a chance to learn and create creatures that live in the sea and their environment.

We’ll provide the materials and the inspiration – you’ll create a wonderful piece to take home with you. Even better, it’s absolutely FREE thanks to sponsorship from Battens Solicitors.

Each time you create a masterpiece at one of our sessions, we will stamp your Craft Academy passport. If you collect three stamps we’ll give you a special certificate.

The next Craft Academy sessions for 2017:

  • Wednesday 12 April

  • Wednesday 19 April

  • Wednesday 31 May

  • Wednesday 2nd August

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Damian Clarke plays Dulcimer and Hurdy Gurdy at Museum’s Lunchtime Concert

Damien Clarke playing the hammer dulcimer © Damien Clarke 2017

Damien Clarke playing the hammer dulcimer

On Thursday 16th February 2017 between 1.00pm to 2.00pm. Local touring musician, Damian Clarke will be playing Dulcimer and Hurdy Gurdy at the Dorset County Museum Lunchtime Concert

He has been performing since 1986, mainly with the international folk band “Pressgang” which he founded. He has toured in 12 countries and made several albums.

Damian, who is also an artist and lives in Dorchester, has appeared on television programmes including BBC’s period drama series ‘Wolf Hall’, playing his instruments from the past – the Hammer Dulcimer and Hurdy Gurdy which he has taught himself.  He is probably the only performer on these instruments in the UK who regularly plays concerts and sings with them.

He also has some great stories from his years on the road, playing in many interesting places. He plays a mix of folk songs from the British/Celtic tradition as well as some of his own contemporary songs.

The lunchtime concert is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Lunchtime Concert performance by Thomas Hardye Students

Thomas Hardye Music Students © Thomas Hardye 2017As part of the preparation for their A-level performance exams, sixth form students from the Thomas Hardye School will perform their recital programmes in lunchtime concerts on  Wednesday 8 February 2017 and Wednesday 22nd February 2017 at the Dorset County Museum between 1.00pm to 2.00pm.

This is an ideal opportunity for the students to road-test their performances given that the exams will take place in the Victorian Hall of the Museum. Over the years, audiences have enjoyed performances on a wide variety of instruments and in a wide variety of styles given by the very talented students of our local school.

These lunchtime concert is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Archaeology Unearthed: The social role of non-metal valuables in Late Bronze Age Britain by Dr Joanna Brück

Necklace of jet and amber from High Throston. Co. Durham © Tees Archaeology 2017

Necklace of jet and amber from High Throston. Co. Durham © Tees Archaeology 2017

Bronze Age metal objects are widely viewed as markers of wealth and status.  Items made from other materials, such as shale and amber, tend either to be framed in similar terms as ‘prestige goods’, or to be viewed as decorative trifles of limited research value.  However, such simplistic models dramatically underplay the social role of objects.

In this talk Dr Joanna Brück will examine objects of amber, jet and shale in Late Bronze Age Britain, addressing in particular their contexts and associations as well as patterns of breakage to consider the cultural meanings and values ascribed to such items and to explore how human and object biographies were intertwined.

Dr Bruck’s primary area of research is the archaeology of the British Bronze Age.   She is particularly interested in the treatment of the human body and concepts of the self; depositional practices and what these reveal about the meanings and values ascribed to objects; and the relationship between space and society including domestic architecture and the changing organisation of landscape.  Dr Bruck has also developed research interest in historical archaeology, including Victorian and Edwardian public parks, and recently published an edited volume on the material culture of the 1916 Rising in Ireland.

This talk will be held at the Dorset County Museum on Friday 3rd February 2017 at 7.30pm (The Museum doors open at 7.00pm). The talk is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

 

Travellers’ Tales: Sand, Rock and Snow with Caroline Richards

Caroline RichardsOn Thursday 26th January at 7.30pm, come join us for a fascinating talk by Caroline Richards who has run on four different continents far off the tourist trail.

Caroline will take you on a visit to four wilderness areas on four different continents, far off the tourist trail.  These remote environments provided a backdrop for multi-day, self-sufficiency running events in which she participated.  The talk is seen through the eyes of an ultra-runner, but provides varied insights and anecdotes into the diverse cultures involved.

At the age of 40, she decided to increase her level of fitness so that she would be able to climb Mont Blanc.  This positive outcome has subsequently encouraged her, over the last fifteen years, to test her limits.  Caroline has participated in multi-day, self-sufficiency events across the world’s deserts and mountain ranges.

Thursday 26th January at 7.00pm (The Museum doors open at 7.00pm). The talk is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

An Exhibition of Merrily Harpur’s Artwork

Merrily Harpur at Work

Merrily Harpur at Work

Dorset County Museum is pleased to present an exhibition by Merrily Harpur, the well-known cartoonist and illustrator, her work having appeared regularly in all the national broadsheets, and in books by Kingsley Amis, Miles Kington, Gerald Durrell, John Michell and others.  She also found time to write the authoritative study of Britain’s mystery big cats – the panther- and puma-like creatures regularly spotted in our countryside, not least in Dorset.

Rodden the Wind from the Sea by Merrily Harpur

Rodden the Wind from the Sea by Merrily Harpur

However she has always been a secret painter of landscapes, and upon moving to this county fell hopelessly in love with its beauties and surprises – the unexpected changes of angle and perspective that West Dorset offers with each half mile travelled.  She paints en plein air or, more accurately, in situ – sitting in the car, enjoying the scent of turpentine and listening to Radio 3. If you spot a mossy, mud-bespattered car in an unlikely corner of a field or lane, this could be her – probably paint-bespattered – attempting to conjure up, in paint, the genius loci – the particular magic of our place.

She now lives and paints in Cattistock, where in 2013 she inaugurated the Fox Festival, and wrote the libretto for Nick Morris’s acclaimed oratorio The Fox That Walked on Water.

Merrily’s work will be on view from 16 January 2017 – 1 April 2017 in the museum’s Tea Room, and it will be FREE to come and view. Her work will be for sale during the exhibition.

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