Literary Lives: The Influence of Hardy on the Cornish poet Jack Clemo by Dr. Luke Thompson

Jack Clemo

Jack Clemo. Heather Spears/ Luke Thompson © 2016

Jack Clemo (1916-94) was one of the most unusual poets of the twentieth century, a deaf-blind, syphilitic, self-proclaimed sex mystic who placed his God within the scarred landscape of the china clay mining country in Cornwall. 

But Clemo began his writing life as a novelist, intending his work to be ‘the Christian counterpart’ of Thomas Hardy’s.  Hardy’s influence on Clemo’s debut novel, Wilding Graft, is unmistakable, and it is an influence to which Clemo would return throughout his writing.

On Thursday 3rd November 2016 at 7.30pm (The Museum doors open at 7.00pm).         Dr Luke Thompson will explore Thomas Hardy’s role in Clemo’s life and work, in the poetic and novelistic influences, and in the role of fate and faith, reading from poems such as ‘Wessex and Lyonesse’ ‘Tryphena’ and ‘Max Gate’

Dr Luke Thompson is a writer, editor and academic from Cornwall, who has written the first full-length biography of the poet Jack Clemo, entitled Clay Phoenix (Ally Press, 2016).

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

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An Evening with the Curator Speed to the West: A Railway Journey in Art

‘Speed to the West:  A Nostalgic Journey’ by Paul Atterbury and Richard Furness

‘Speed to the West: A Nostalgic Journey’ by Paul Atterbury and Richard Furness

This Thursday, 24th March at 7.00pm at Dorset County Museum in Dorchester, Richard Furness will talk about the development of the humble railway poster, and give a tour of the West Country using a series of stunning railway posters to coincide with the Museum’s extensive poster exhibition which runs until January 2017.

The talk will cover the historical development of railway posters over 130 years from the early Victorian lithographs through to modern digital images.  It will be based on the five south-western counties of Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall, which will be used to illustrate the enormous change in styles before we tour the region with some of the finest pieces of commercial art ever produced in the UK.

The talk is a stunningly visual introduction to the extensive poster exhibition being hosted by Dorset County Museum, which the BBC Antiques Roadshow expert Paul Atterbury and the Speaker have jointly curated.

Available to buy on the evening at £9.99 will be the brand new book ‘Speed to the West:  A Nostalgic Journey’ by Paul Atterbury and Richard Furness.

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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Museum launches a new exhibition of stunning railway advertising posters of the 20th Century

Nothing is more evocative of the golden age of travel than the railway poster, and Dorset County Museum is thrilled to be staging an exhibition featuring over 50 famous examples that opens on 19th March. These beautiful works of art were created between 1916 and the 1970s with one aim in mind: to encourage holiday makers to escape the humdrum of every day life and travel by train to the resorts, towns, countryside and special places of Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.

A truly classic railyway poster advertising the trip to come: GWR poster from 1938 by Charles H. J. Mayo

A truly classic railyway poster advertising the trip to come: GWR poster from 1938 by Charles H. J. Mayo

The posters conjure up a bygone age of steam engines and old fashioned bathing suits, sunny beaches and the gentle clinking of boats in harbours. There are stunning and iconic landscapes too, immediately recognisable, painted in wonderful colours and promising days out filled with sunshine and relaxation. Town and city views are populated with elegant people, a streamlined locomotive heads a Pullman train – these images bring together the excitement, spectacle and nostalgia of the age.

On display alongside the wide range of posters are some 21st century items that use classic poster design principles, locomotive nameplates, old station totem signs and diverse railway publicity materials and ephemera celebrating the great holiday routes in the West of England. Together they will, without doubt, provoke many nostalgic travel memories.

Speed to the West has been curated by Antiques Roadshow expert and writer Paul Atterbury and Richard Furness, collector, writer and publisher of the Poster to Poster series that have become the definitive books on the subject, supported by the staff of Dorset County Museum.

Paul Atterbury said “During the interwar years the ‘Big Four’ railway companies found that art sold tickets, and between them commissioned an astonishing range of posters from the leading artists and designers of the day. This tradition was maintained, even expanded, in the 1950s and 1960s by the newly nationalised British Railways, whose legacy is a second golden age of posters. This is a wonderful collection that is well worth coming to see, and I’m very pleased to be involved with this exhibition.”

Richard Furness said “Dorset is a beautiful county whose coastline is the subject for some wonderful artwork. Having been studying, collecting and writing about railway art for many years, I am delighted to be playing a part in bringing this unique collection to Dorchester. This exhibition brings together posters spanning a century, and is rounded off with the latest GWR poster which demonstrates that the slogan ‘Speed to the West’ is still actively in use today. Visitors should have a lot to see and reminisce over. Do come and see us!”

Dr Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum said “I’m really excited about this exhibition. The posters and railway memorabilia we’re exhibiting are within living memory for many people, forming a direct link to the past. Added to that, the posters are, of course, things of beauty in their own right and it’s great that they will be here in Dorset for people to see all year.”

A book, illustrating in colour the posters in the exhibition plus others that enrich the story, will be on sale throughout the exhibition priced at £9.95.

  • The exhibition ‘Speed to the West’ A Nostalgic Journey opens at Dorset County Museum on Saturday 19th March 2016 to Saturday 7th January 2017

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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St Ives and British Modernism: The George and Ann Dannatt Collection Exhibition extended to 23rd January 2016

Denis Mitchell, Selena, 1969, Pallant House Gallery, The George and Ann Dannatt Gift (2011)

Denis Mitchell, Selena, 1969, Pallant House Gallery, The George and Ann Dannatt Gift (2011) PHG © 2015

Dorset County Museum is pleased to confirm that the current exhibition St Ives and British Modernism: The George and Ann Dannatt Collection has been extended and will run until Saturday 23rd January 2016.

Director of Dorset County Museum, Dr Jon Murden commented “This has already proved to be a very popular exhibition, and I’m really pleased that it will be staying in Dorset for three extra weeks, giving locals and visitors alike the chance to come and see it.”

Ancient Landscape by George Dannatt - Dorset County Museum © 2015

Ancient Landscape by George Dannatt – Dorset County Museum © 2015

Marking the centenary of George Dannatt’s birth in 1915, the exhibition explores one of Dorset’s most significant art collections – that assembled by George and Ann Dannatt.
The collection includes a largely unseen and newly conserved group of paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints by key figures associated with the St Ives Group of Artists in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, including Terry Frost, Roger Hilton, Peter Lanyon, Ben Nicholson, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and John Tunnard.

The collection is one of the most significant private collections of its type, not least because Dannatt was a friend of many of the artists, and was himself an abstract artist. A selection of his own works will be included in the display, as well as archival photographs of the Dannatts with their artist friends and rare artists’ books and illustrated volumes. In addition to the St Ives Group, the collection includes works by artists associated with a poetic strain of Neo-Romanticism in Britain, including Paul Nash, David Jones, Prunella Clough and Keith Vaughan, as well as interesting prints by international artists such as Jean Arp and Eduardo Chillida.

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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The Place of St Ives by Brandon Taylor, Professor Emeritus of History of Art, University of Southampton

Ancient Landscape by George Dannatt - Dorset County Museum © 2015

Ancient Landscape by George Dannatt – Dorset County Museum © 2015

On Thursday 10th December at 7.30pm, Dorset County Museum invites you to come to an interesting and informative talk about British modern art which complements the current temporary exhibition at Dorset County Museum, St Ives and British Modernism: The George and Ann Dannatt Collection.

The talk will consider the character of ‘The St Ives School’ of painters and sculptors during the 1940s and 1950s, the nature of their links to the coastal environment, and the relation of their work to transatlantic and European tendencies of the day.

Professor Taylor is currently a visiting Tutor in History and Theory of Art at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford. His latest publications are After Constructivism (Yale University Press 2014) and St Ives and British Modernism (Pallant House Gallery Chichester 2015).

This talk is on Thursday 10th December 2015, Dorset County Museum, 7.30pm
(doors open at 7.00pm) and is open to everyone and is FREE of charge, although we do encourage a donation of £3 to cover costs.

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

New Exhibition: St Ives and British Modernism: The George and Ann Dannatt Collection

Denis Mitchell, Selena, 1969, Pallant House Gallery, The George and Ann Dannatt Gift (2011)

Denis Mitchell, Selena, 1969, Pallant House Gallery, The George and Ann Dannatt Gift (2011) PHG © 2015

Opening on Saturday, 3rd October 2015 and marking the centenary of George Dannatt’s birth in 1915, this new exhibition at Dorset County Museum will explore one of Dorset’s most significant and discerning art collections – that assembled by George and Ann Dannatt over a period of 50 years at their modernist home on the Dorset-Wiltshire border.

Left as a gift to the Pallant House Gallery, the collection includes a largely unseen and newly conserved group of paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints by key figures associated with the St Ives Group of Artists in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The featured artists include John Wells, Terry Frost, Roger Hilton, Peter Lanyon, Ben Nicholson, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and John Tunnard. The artist Turner visited St Ives in 1811, and the modest Cornish fishing port has been a hub for artists attracted to the quality of light, mild climate and beautiful coastal scenery ever since.

Ancient Landscape by George Dannatt - Dorset County Museum © 2015

Ancient Landscape by George Dannatt – Dorset County Museum © 2015

The collection is one of the most significant private collections of its type, not least because Dannatt (1915 – 2009) was a friend of many of the artists, and was himself an abstract artist. Born in Blackheath, London he became a chartered surveyor and freelance music critic. From 1948 he started to visit Dorset taking photographs while roaming the coast with his old artist friend John Wells. The photographs proved inspirational to his work, and many of them are held at Dorset County Museum.
In 1993 Dannatt exhibited at Dorset County Museum in association with his book ‘One Way of Seeing’. In Dannatt’s Artist’s Statement for the exhibition he explained “Every artist creates through a process of abstraction from what he sees. One of the significant influences in my work is that of the form and pattern in landscape. This influence, more fully and more slowly

evolved in my later work, found its beginnings in my response to the Wessex and Cornish scene. Where the work becomes purely abstract, where colour and texture are intrinsic, the forms still derive from this same experience.”

Dorset County Museum is lucky enough to own two of Dannatt’s paintings, Ancient Landscape 1982 and Poundbury Landscape, Dorset 1997. These will both be included in the exhibition along with a wider selection of Dannatt’s works, as well as archival photographs of the Dannatts with their artist friends and rare artists’ books and illustrated volumes.

Dannatt also spent time in Wiltshire before heading down to Cornwall in the early 1960s where he began to paint seriously. From 1970 to 1983 he was a regular exhibitor at the St Ives Penwith Gallery and from 1973 he also exhibited at the Newlyn Art Gallery. In addition to the St Ives Group, the collection includes works by artists associated with a poetic strain of Neo-Romanticism in Britain, including Paul Nash, David Jones, Prunella Clough and Keith Vaughan, as well as interesting prints by international artists such as Jean Arp and Eduardo Chillida.

This exhibition at Dorset County Museum will run from 3rd October 2015 to 2 January 2016.  Standard museum admissions apply.

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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An Englishman’s Home – a play by Major Guy du Maurier

An Englishman’s Home – a play by Major Guy du MaurierA dramatic play reading provides the final event associated with Dorset County Museum’s current exhibition, A Dorset Woman at War. On 16th October The New Hardy Players will be reading a play originally published in 1909. An Englishman’s Home caused a sensation when it came out anonymously under the name, A Patriot. It later came known to be the work of Captain Guy du Maurier, a British officer. An uncle to Daphne du Maurier, his play was said to have influenced her famous novel, The Birds. An Englishman’s Home went on to be a long-running success and was later made into a film.

“This play was politically provocative and was deliberately designed to frighten its audiences” says Jon Murden, director of Dorset County Museum. “Writers like du Maurier were frequently criticised as scaremongers by leading politicians of the day, but unfortunately their fears were ultimately proved correct by the outbreak of the First World War.”

The semi-staged play will be performed with some costumes and props and is set almost entirely in the sitting room of a suburban house in Essex. It tells the story of a fictional attack on England by an unknown enemy (generally assumed to be Germany). The alarming nature of the story, at a time of increasing tension between Britain and Germany, served to highlight the unreadiness of Britain to repel such an attack and was credited with boosting army recruitment in the years immediately prior to World War I. It also influenced Mabel Stobart, the subject of the Museum’s current exhibition.

Tickets for the play reading cost £7.00 and include a complimentary glass of wine or a soft drink. The event starts at 7.30pm on Thursday 16th October and all are welcome. Tickets are available now from the Museum Shop on 01305 756827. For further information see www.dorsetcountymuseum.org