Archaeology Field Trip: Walk at Down Farm, Wimborne St Giles with Dr Martin Green

Martin holding an extraordinary highly polished flint rectangular blade flint or plaque. A prestige object from the late Neolithic © Martin Green 2017

Martin holding an extraordinary highly polished flint rectangular blade flint or plaque. A prestige object from the late Neolithic © Martin Green 2017

On Saturday 3rd June 2017 starting at 2.00pm, Martin Green will lead this trip to explore the archaeological landscape of Down Farm.

This will include the Fir Tree Field shaft containing evidence of Mesolithic to Beaker activity, a rare pond barrow, the Dorset Cursus and other prehistoric features.  We will also visit Martin’s museum containing his extraordinary collection of archaeological artefacts, mainly found in the area.

Martin is a Dorset farmer and renowned amateur archaeologist, awarded an honorary doctorate by Reading University for his life long contribution to the archaeology of Cranborne Chase.

The walk 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

For Directions

Down Farm, near Wimborne St Giles, Dorset, grid reference ST 999 149 . Turn off the A354 signposted Wimborne St Giles. Continue a short distance along this road. Take the tarmac lane on the right (signposted ‘Down Farm’). The farm is past the cottages on the right hand side.

Lecture: John Craxton’s Crete by Ian Collins

Four Figures in a Mountain Landscape by John Craxton © estate of John Craxton / Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives

Four Figures in a Mountain Landscape by John Craxton © estate of John Craxton / Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives

On Friday 18th September, Ian Collins, Curator of Dorset County Museum’s John Craxton Exhibition and Biographer of the artist, is giving a talk at Dorset County Museum which will focus on the period of the artist’s career when he was residing and painting in Crete.

John Craxton (1922-2009) was one of the most interesting and individual British artists of the 20th century. After years of travelling around the Mediterranean after World War 11, Craxton settled in Crete in 1960. His life story, starting with wanderings on Cranborne Chase, was as colourful as his later pictures of the light, life and landscapes of Greece.

Ian Collins with Sir David Attenborough at the opening of the John Craxton Exhibition - Jonathan North / DCM © 2015

Ian Collins with Sir David Attenborough at the opening of the John Craxton Exhibition – Jonathan North / DCM © 2015

The exhibition at Dorset County Museum in Dorchester charts 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. The exhibition runs until Saturday 19th September.

All are welcome to the talk on Friday which starts at 7.30pm. Doors open at 7.00pm. The talk is free of charge, but 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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Discover the Art of John Craxton this weekend

'Poet in Landscape', 1941, Ink and watercolour by John Craxton

‘Poet in Landscape’, 1941, Ink and watercolour by John Craxton

John Craxton once described the county in saying “The Dorset landscape is not an obvious physiognomy but, like a person, has many hidden aspects – the mysterious enigmatic earthworks, tumuli and barrows, the atmosphere of conspiracy from the great days of smuggling still lingers, the deep, impenetrable forests with King John’s hunting lodge to prove that time is ever relative”

On the 15th May, Ian Collins will be re-visiting the Dorset County Museum with his talk exploring John Craxton’s early life and his passion of the Dorset landscape and history that was an inspiration for the work he produced. Whilst staying with his artist uncle and aunt in a cottage on the Cranborne Chase.

Ian’s talk takes place a 7.30pm on Friday 15th May (doors open at 7.00pm). The event is FREE of charge but a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs.

Ian Collins with Sir David Attenborough at the opening of the John Craxton Exhibition - Jonathan North / DCM © 2015

Ian Collins with Sir David Attenborough at the opening of the John Craxton Exhibition – Jonathan North / DCM © 2015

On the next day, Saturday 16th May a private tour of Dorset County Museum’s current exhibition, A Poetic Eye: John Craxton on Cranborne Chase and Crete. The tour will be led by the exhibition’s curator, Ian Collins

The tour is a great opportunity to see the exhibition up close and hear the story of John Craxton’s journey from Cranborne Chase to Crete, exploring his journey into warmth, light and colour. Following the tour, a brunch will be provided in the Museum’s Tea Room.

The tour starts at 11.00am on Saturday 16th May and tickets cost £10.00. There are a limited number of spaces available and places must be booked in advance.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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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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