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

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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Geology Revealed: Coastal Heritage Risk by Professor Robin McInnes

Lyme Regis, Dorset by G Hawkins. Aquatint Engraving, c 1830. This view looks eastwards towards Black Ven and Charmouth. Rapid erosion and coastal landsliding is a feature of this frontage. © Private Collection

Lyme Regis, Dorset by G Hawkins. Aquatint Engraving, c 1830. This view looks eastwards towards Black Ven and Charmouth. Rapid erosion and coastal landsliding is a feature of this frontage. © Private Collection

Come and join us on Wednesday 22 February for a talk on Coastal Erosion by Professor Robin McInnes. The presentation will explain the results of a major study, ‘CHeRISH’,  commissioned from Coastal & Geotechnical Services by Historic England. The project has been examining the potential for historical images (1770-1950) to support  understanding and improved management of risks to coastal heritage sites in Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Somerset.

Robin McInnes is a geologist, coastal scientist and art historian. He read geology at Southampton University and gained his PhD at Portsmouth University in Coastal Zone Management. He was technical chairman of the Standing Conference on Problems Associated with the Coastline and chairman of the Coastal Groups of England & Wales between 1995-2009. He was appointed OBE for ‘Services to Flood & Coastal Defence’ in 2006. Robin was Visiting Professor at the School of Civil Engineering & Environment at the University of Southampton from 2010-2014. In 2007 he established his consultancy Coastal & Geotechnical Services specialising in coastal zone and landslide risk management; he has been an advisor to the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Commission, The Crown Estate and numerous other clients in the UK and overseas.

Alongside his technical publications Robin McInnes has a special knowledge of British coastal art and he wrote the standard reference work on this subject in ‘British Coastal Art 1770-1930’ in 2014. His has a particular interest in illustrating how art can support many aspects of coastal planning and management.

This lecture will be held in the museums’ Victorian Hall on Wednesday 22nd February 2017 at 7.00pm (doors open at 6.30pm) and 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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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

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

Lunch Time Concert – Lute and classical guitar with guitarist Kevin Avebury

Kevin Avebury

Kevin Avebury

On Thursday 8 December 2016 at 1.00pm. Kevin Avebury presents a programme tracing Christmastide music from medieval times to the present day on lute and classical guitar.

Kevin studied guitar, lute, piano, composition and figured bass at the Royal College of Music.  His specialisation is Continuo realisation (keyboard and fretboard), Renaissance and Baroque music history and compositional techniques.

He has performed concerts as a soloist, in duos, trios and larger ensembles.  He has worked with vocal soloists, small vocal and instrumental ensembles, Early Opera companies, cafes, restaurants, street events, festivals and pubs!

Kevin is also lead guitarist in the Dorchester based rock band Margot Escargot, which is recording in London this December for an EP release early in 2017.

The concert will take place in the Museum’s Victorian Hall on Thursday 8 December 2016 at 1.00pm. This lunch time concert is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to help 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: Like a Tramp, Like a Pilgrim: On foot across Europe to Rome by Harry Bucknall

Like a Tramp Like a Pilgrim On foot across Europe to Rome by Harry  Bucknall

Like a Tramp Like a Pilgrim On foot across Europe to Rome by Harry Bucknall

Thursday 17th November 2016 at 7.00pm. Come and join us for an interesting talk in our Travellers’ Tales series Like a Tramp, Like a Pilgrim: On foot across Europe to Rome by Harry Bucknall

Watching in disbelief as his computer was struck by lightning in 2007, Harry Bucknall had no idea that the subsequent trail of events would lead him to Rome – five years later, on foot.

Following the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrim path that dates back nearly two thousand years, Harry walks through England, France, Switzerland and Italy on a historical backcloth that is liberally coloured with tales of angels and saints, emperors and kings and war and revolution.  He uncovers a little known route that leads him through villages, towns and cities over rivers and mountains across Europe to the heart of the Eternal City, Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Like a Tramp, Like a Pilgrim is a joyous journey of Elizabethan proportion filled with anecdote, adventure and mishap as Harry observes the changing landscape around him, the people he meets, the places he stays and his assorted fellow pilgrims along the way.

Copies of Like a Tramp, Like a Pilgrim (published by Bloomsbury) will be available to buy on the night at the Museum.  Harry will be pleased to sign copies.

Thursday 17th November 2016 at 7.00pm (The Museum doors open at 6.30pm). 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