Spotlight Exhibition: MIX: artwork by Maddy Down , Helen Francis and Peter Runeckles

End of Summer by Maddy Down

‘End of Summer’ painting by Maddy Down

From 4th February 2017 to 25th March 2017, The Dorset County Museum will host an temporary exhibition showing the work of three local artists.  They all have a long association with the Museum through their voluntary work in various departments. 

Maddy Down, Helen Francis and Peter Runeckles work in a wide variety of styles and media including oils, watercolour, pastels, textiles and enamels.  They have arrived at this point on their creative journeys by very different routes.

Maddy Down‘s interest in painting was prompted by gaining a degree in Art History at Winchester in 2001.  She was brought up in the Yorkshire Dales but has lived in Dorset for 45 years. The Dorset coast, cliffs and landscapes are her inspiration.  She conveys what she feels rather than a purely literal response.

Helen Francis trained at Loughborough College of Art gaining a BA (Hons) in Textiles specialising in embroidery.  After graduating she worked at the Hampton Court Palace and the Victoria and Albert Museum as a textile conservator.  An interest in historic needlework and costume continues through her work as a volunteer at the Museum.

Influenced by her garden, flowers and everyday objects Helen makes still life pictures using fabric, paint and thread.  Layers of dyed silk are used to create depth and intensity of colour.  Mark making with hand and free machine embroidery are added to accentuate the design.

Peter Runeckles has been painting since his school days when he was taught by R B Talbot Kelly the wildlife artist.  Since then he has worked independently producing paintings and sculptures.  He also joined a print making group at Bournemouth Art College.  Peter’s works in this show include paintings in oil and acrylic, Humbrol enamels, water colours, etchings and screen prints.   Peter has exhibited previously in Poole, Bournemouth and Dorchester.

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

Meet your favourite Sci-Fi and Superhero characters at the Dorset County Museum

StormtroopersIt’s nearly time for Dorchester Christmas Cracker night. The event that officially kicks off Christmas in the County town takes place this year on Thursday 8 December from 5.00pm.

This year by popular demand, everyone’s favourite Science Fiction and Fantasy Movie and TV characters will be back at Dorset County Museum. Come along to see a host of characters from the Superheroes from the Marvel Universe, Star Wars, Doctor Who and many more….

Delicious mulled wine and mince pies will be available to buy and the Tea Room will be open for tasty snacks and refreshments.  A browse in the Museum shop will reveal a wide range of gift ideas including toys, games, books and jewellery.  The current exhibition Speed to the West: A Nostalgic Journey an exhibition of 20th Century Railway Posters will be on display, with prints and railway memorabilia on sale in the shop for just a few more weeks – another fantastic opportunity to pick up a very special Christmas present.

scifi-and-superheros-at-dorset-county-museumEntry to the Museum on Cracker Night is FREE and everyone is welcome. All the galleries will be open on the night.

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

Dorset County Museum to host Sci-Fi characters and Father Christmas on Cracker Night

Dorchester Christmas CrackerIt’s nearly time for Cracker Night again in Dorchester. The event that officially kicks off Christmas in the County town takes place this year on Thursday 3rd December from 5.00pm.

This year by popular demand, everyone’s favourite science fiction characters will be back at Dorset County Museum. Come along to see characters from the Star Wars films and Dr Who. Bring the children to see Father Christmas in his grotto – every child will receive a bag of goodies in return for a small donation.

Pliosaur meets Darth Vader

Delicious mulled wine and mince pies will be available to buy in the Victorian Gallery, and the Tea Room will be open for tasty snacks and refreshments. A browse in the Museum shop will reveal a wide range of gift ideas including toys, games, books and jewellery. The current exhibition St Ives and British Modernism: the George & Ann Dannatt Collection will be on display in the exhibition gallery, and prints of some of the works will be for sale – another fantastic opportunity to pick up a very special Christmas present.

Entry to the Museum on Cracker Night is FREE and everyone is welcome. The ground floor galleries will be open on the night.

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

Nash Ensemble Evening Concert at the Dorset County Museum

The Nash Ensemble, © Hanya Chlala/ArenaPAL

The Nash Ensemble, © Hanya Chlala/ArenaPAL

The celebrated Nash Ensemble, resident chamber ensemble at the Wigmore Hall, London are playing at Dorset County Museum for one night only on Friday 19th June at 7.30pm.

The programme consists of:

  • Mozart Oboe Quartet in F K 370
  • Stravinsky Three Pieces for String Quartet
  • Michael Berkeley Oboe Quintet ‘Into the Ravine’
  • Ravel String Quartet

The musicians are Gareth Hulse (oboe), Laura Samuel (violin), Annabelle Meare (violin), James Boyd (viola), Adrian Brendel (cello).

Sunlit Ravine by John Craxton 1982-5

Sunlit Ravine by John Craxton 1982-5

One of the pieces being played on the night, Oboe Quintet ‘Into the Ravine’, was influenced by paintings, including one given to the composer Michael Berkeley’s father in 1962 by local artist John Craxton, to whom the concert is dedicated.

Michael Berkeley and his parents Lennox and Freda Berkeley were close friends of the Craxton family for many years. In 1962 John Craxton commissioned Lennox Berkeley to write an oboe sonata for his sister Janet Craxton the oboeist. In return he gave Lennox a painting of a Greek Ravine, which later was to be the inspiration for ‘Into the Ravine’.

In 2012 after the death of John Craxton, Michael Berkeley wrote ‘Into the Ravine’ in memory of the artist.

‘Into the Ravine’ is a melancholy piece beginning with the oboe intoning three plaintive notes around which the strings gradually entwine. The final bars seem to imitate a solitary bird making a final lonely call before taking to the wing and disappearing into the clouds.

John Craxton, Hydra, Greece, 1960 - Wolfgang Suschitzky

John Craxton, Hydra, Greece, 1960 – Wolfgang Suschitzky

John Craxton’s work, including the paintings that inspired Michael Berkeley, is on display until 19th September in a temporary exhibition at the Museum, ‘A Poetic Eye: John Craxton on Cranborne Chase and Crete’. Doors will open early at 7.00pm on the night to enable a viewing of this intriguing exhibition before the concert begins.

There will be a raffle sponsored by Goldcrest Jewellers and refreshments on the night with all proceeds going to the Collections Development Centre fund at Dorset County Museum. The Museum has been successful in its bid to win £10.3 million of Heritage Lottery Funding but needs to find a further £3 million in match funding.

Tickets can be bought from Dorset County Museum’s shop or by phone on 01305 756827 and cost £30 each.

About the Nash Ensemble

Chamber Ensemble in Residence at Wigmore Hall, the Nash Ensemble is regarded as a standard-bearer of British music-making around the world and this year celebrates its 50th anniversary. To mark this achievement its founding artistic director, Amelia Freedman, devised a series at Wigmore Hall consisting of repertoire performed to great acclaim including some of the 193 commissions which it has premiered over the past half century.

Recent highlights include concerts in Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the USA, including a residency at Princeton University. Recent releases include a CD of Hollywood composers for Hyperion, connected to the Ensemble’s highly praised 2013/14 American series at Wigmore Hall; Harrison Birtwistle’s The Moth Requiem for Signum Classics; and a recording of John Tavener’s Russian Folk Songs for NMC. The Ensemble has received two Royal Philharmonic awards “for the breadth of its taste and immaculate performance.”

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Cecil Waller – Life and Landscape by Brian Davis

'Threshing, Burt's Farm', Minchington 1965 by Cecil Waller

‘Threshing, Burt’s Farm’, Minchington 1965 by Cecil Waller

In his lecture on Cecil Waller, which is one of the events related to the John Craxton Exhibition, Brian Davis will be giving an account of Cecil Waller’s career as a portraitist and landscapist. He will reflect on how perfectly good artists can come to be ignored or side-lined. What motivations and pressures influenced the art world in Waller’s lifetime (1908 – 1992) and what influences public taste and decides an artist’s reputation.

Brian Davis studied English at Cambridge and taught the subject in schools for the first half of his working life. During that time he was a pupil of the Russian harpist Maria Korchinska and later he studied History of Art at the Courtauld Institute. In the second half of his career he worked as a professional harpist and as lecturer in literature and the history of art. He has been Occasional Lecturer for the Tate and National Portrait Galleries, Visiting Professor to the University of Colorado and lecturer for the Adult Education departments of Cambridge, Bath and East Anglia Universities.

Brian Davis talk takes place at 7.00pm for 7.30pm on Thursday 9th April. The event is FREE of charge but a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs.
For further information contact the Museum on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

A Poetic Eye: John Craxton on Cranborne Chase and Crete

Figure in Tree Lithograph by John Caxton (1944)

Figure in Tree Lithograph by John Caxton (1944)

John Craxton (1922-2009) was one of the most interesting and individual British artists of the 20th century. His life story, starting with wanderings on Cranborne Chase, was as colourful as his later pictures of the light, life and landscapes of Greece.

A new exhibition at Dorset County Museum in Dorchester will chart Craxton’s journey from Cranborne to Crete, from early paintings of dark and menaced war-time landscapes to joyful scenes painted under bright Cretan skies.

“John Craxton was one of the art world’s best-kept secrets, but his reputation has surged since his death,” said exhibition curator Ian Collins.”The retrospective exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge earlier this year attracted a huge number of visitors and we are hoping for a similar reaction here.”

“This exhibition will bring together many paintings and drawings never previously exhibited,” said Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum. “It covers an extraordinary range of work from his early life in rural Dorset to Greece where he lived after the Second World War.”

Born in London into a large, musical and bohemian family, Craxton’s nomadic habit began early – staying lengthily with relatives and family friends and briefly at school after school until being pronounced unteachable.

From an early age Craxton lodged with an artist uncle and aunt in an ancient cottage, a short walk from the Pitt Rivers Museum in Farnham. Within this Aladdin’s cave of treasures from all periods and places, Craxton educated himself in art history and archaeology while revelling in untamed Dorset.

At 14 he saw Picasso’s Guernica in Paris with the paint still wet, and at 16 he was drawing in the French capital until forced home by looming war. Rejected for military service, he drew his first masterpiece at 19 – heralding a long series of haunted paintings and drawings which were studies in entrapment. A procession of solitary figures in dark and threatened landscapes were all emblematic portraits of the artist himself.

Mentored by Graham Sutherland, and enjoying a close friendship with Lucian Freud, Craxton won youthful fame with pictures hailed as highlights of the Neo-Romantic movement (a label the artist hated). He had great charm and luck. In the week that the Craxton family home was blitzed, his textile designer friend EQ Nicholson was moving into Alderholt mill house, on the Dorset-Wiltshire border. Craxton moved in too, and reflected the surrounding scenery in many of his war-time pictures.

In the first post-war summer, of 1945, John and Lucian went to the Scilly Isles as stepping stones to warmer climes. A year later John Craxton led the partnership to Greece, where, while always travelling widely, he would be based for the rest of his life.

Pictures initially inspired by Samuel Palmer and William Blake, and then by Picasso and Miro, finally owed more and more to Cretan frescoes and Byzantine mosaics as Craxton developed a linear colour language all his own. His singular art evolved from dark to light and from disquiet to joy. But to the end he visited Cranborne Chase – with late elegiac paintings and drawings of dead elms which seemed to come full circle with his war-time pictures of six decades earlier.

The new exhibition at Dorset County Museum, curated by Ian Collins, John Craxton’s biographer and executor, will explore Craxton’s journey into light and colour – following his travels from Dorset to Greece. The exhibition will run from 28th March to 19th September 2015, moving to Salisbury Museum early in 2016. The Museum is open from 10.00am to 4.00pm, Monday to Saturday.

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Dorchester Museum to host Sci-Fi characters and Father Christmas on Cracker Night

Dorchester Cracker Night

Sci-Fi characters at Dorset County Museum at a previous Cracker Night.

It’s nearly time for Cracker Night again in Dorchester. The event that officially kicks off Christmas in the County town takes place this year on Thursday 4th December from 5.30pm.

This year everyone’s favourite Science fiction characters will be back at Dorset County Museum by popular demand. Come along to see characters from the Star Wars films and Doctor Who – and bring the children to see Father Christmas in his grotto in the Museum’s Victorian Gallery. A small donation is requested, and every child will receive a bag of goodies.

Delicious mulled wine and mince pies will be for sale in the Tea Room and the Museum shop will be open with a range of gift ideas including toys, games, books and jewellery. The current exhibition by local artist, Phyllis Wolff will be on display in the exhibition gallery and many of the works are for sale – another fantastic opportunity to pick up a very special Christmas present.

Entry to the Museum on Cracker Night is FREE and everyone is welcome. The ground floor galleries will also be open on the night.

For further information visit www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or telephone the Museum on 01305 262735.

Landscape and Identity: An exhibition by artist Phyllis Wolff

Brownsea Island by Phyllis Wolff

Brownsea Island by Phyllis Wolff © 2014

Dorset County Museum is delighted to welcome back Dorset artist Phyllis Wolff in November of this year. Phyllis has exhibited at the Museum before and the new exhibition promises to be her most exciting to date.

Landscape and Identity will contain about 80 paintings based around the concept of the identity which Dorset’s rural landscape establishes within the artist and the connection this makes with the work itself.

“Phyllis’ paintings are incredibly vibrant – full of life and colour – and represent the best of contemporary artists working in Dorset today,” said Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum. “We look forward to seeing her work back in the Museum and are sure this exhibition will be as successful as the last one.”

Phyllis Wolff has lived and painted in north Dorset for nearly 40 years. She moved there soon after graduating from St Martins’ School of Art in the 1970s to be closer to the landscape which she wanted to paint. That is precisely what she has done, more or less consistently, since that time.

Phyllis has been described as a 21st Century impressionist – her Dorset garden is a rich source of inspiration to her. She paints with spontaneity and immediacy, diving into her work and suffusing it with life and colour, making it all look very easy. The use of abstracted brushstrokes and painterly marks all help to create her very distinctive and beautiful paintings.

Accompanying the exhibition will be a selection of greetings cards and a booklet on sale in the Museum shop. Entry to the exhibition is FREE.

Dorset County Museum is open from 10.00am to 4.00pm, Monday to Saturday. Phyllis Wolff: Landscape and Identity will run from Saturday 22nd November until 24th December 2014 and is the perfect opportunity to find that very special Christmas present!

For more information please Tel: 01305 262735 or visit our website at www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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New Art Exhibition by local artist Carolyn Fields

Durdle Door by Carolyn Fields

Durdle Door by Carolyn Fields © 2014

From the 24th February to 21st June 2014, A brand new exhibition of pastel paintings by a local artist opens on Monday 24th February at Dorset County Museum.

Carolyn Fields lives in Dorchester but was born in Singapore and brought up in Scotland. She is a science teacher but spends her spare time painting. Her pictures are beautiful pastel paintings of many of the most recognisable of Dorset’s landmarks including Portland Bill, Kimmeridge Bay and Durdle Door.

Clavell Tower, Kimmeridge Bay by Carolyn Fields

Clavell Tower, Kimmeridge Bay by Carolyn Fields © 2014

Carolyn said, “I share a love of pastel painting with my mother who is also an artist. I have painted in Italy and Ireland but am most at home painting the Dorset landscape, in particular the Jurassic Coast.”

Carolyn’s paintings will be exhibited in the Museum’s popular Tea Room and every piece will be for sale. For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735. Entry to the exhibition is FREE.

The Painter of Victorian Dorset, Henry Joseph Moule by Gwen Yarker, BEM

View from the North side of Poundbury by Henry Joseph Moule, 10th July 1880

View from the North side of Poundbury by Henry Joseph Moule, 10th July 1880 © DCM

On Thursday 30th January 2014, local art historian and curator Gwen Yarker is giving a lecture at Dorset County Museum on the watercolour paintings of Henry Joseph Moule.

Henry Joseph Moule produced several thousand paintings of the Dorset countryside, particularly around Dorchester. An antiquarian and author, he was first curator of the newly built Dorset County Museum.  Thomas Hardy and Moule were close associates and through Moule’s paintings this lecture will illustrate the Dorset they both knew and loved.

Gwen Yarker has been a curator of art in national and regional museums. She has produced a large number of exhibitions featuring local artists, including two exploring the Dorset watercolours of Henry Moule. Most recently she curated the highly successful Georgian Faces exhibition at Dorset County Museum. Through an important curatorial grant from the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art, Gwen is now researching a major exhibition on twentieth-century painters working in Dorset

The talk is FREE of charge but a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.  Doors open at 7.00pm and the talk will commence at 7.30pm.  For further information please see www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or telephone 01305 262735.