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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Festival of Archaeology at the Dorset County Museum

Festival of ArchaeologyThe Festival of Archaeology, coordinated yearly by the Council for British Archaeology, showcases the very best of British archaeology by presenting special events hosted by museums, heritage organisations, universities, societies and community archaeologists all over the UK.

As our contribution to this year’s festival, Dorset County Museum will host a variety of events including Viking re-enactments and a rare opportunity to tour the Museum’s archaeology store.  “This is a fantastic opportunity for people to see a whole range of artefacts that aren’t normally on display,“ said Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum.  “In the past these tours completely sold out as so many people were interested in coming along – we hope it will be even more popular this year.“

Viking at the Dorset County Museum

Vikings will be invading the museum during the festival

Visitors to the museum can also see the newly refurbished Ancient Dorset gallery which tells the fascinating story of the past of the ancient peoples living in this county, from the Lower Palaeolithic Age 3 million years ago to 1066AD. With a brand new display of the recently discovered mass Viking burial discovered on the Ridgeway outside Weymouth.

Events at the Museum:

  • Tuesday 19 and 26th July – Tour of the archaeology store in All Saint’s Church, High East Street, Dorchester.  See behind the scenes and experience some of the millions of objects we don’t have space to normally display. Tours will commence from the Museum at: 10.30am, 12noon, 1.30pm and 3.30pm. Places limited, booking is essential. Normal admission prices apply.
  • Wedneday 20 July – Archaeology Day will be held at the Museum with activities throughout the day, including displays, hands on archaeology and meet the experts, mini-talks and the finds ID surgery. Bring in objects you have found – coins, buckles, pottery, anything! Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen, Finds Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme will be able to explain what they are. The Finds ID Surgery is at 10.30am and 2pm, and you will need to book. All other activities will happen through the day and you can just drop in. Normal admission prices apply.
  • Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 July – History is being brought to life as the Vikings invade Dorset County Museum! Come and meet the Vikings from 11am until 4pm. Witness hand to hand   combat, visit craftspeople to find out how chain mail and fishing nets were made, watch Norse cooking demonstrations, mint a Viking coin and listen to exciting Viking sagas full of adventure. Normal admission prices apply.
  • Wednesday 27 July – Roman Dorchester a rare chance to visit inside one of the best-preserved Roman Town Houses in Britain and see the beautiful mosaic floors at close range. Tours will commence from the Dorset County Museum at: 11am, 12noon, 1.30pm and 3.30pm. Places limited, booking is essential. Normal admission prices apply.
Dorchester Roman Town House

Dorchester Roman Town House

  • Saturday 30 July Family Archaeology Day will be held at the Museum with activities throughout the day suitable for younger visitors. Hands on activities and trails, and meet some archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology and Context One Archaeological Services.  Find out about bones and how archaeologists use new technology with displays and mini-talks for the family.  Normal admission prices 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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New Exhibition: Pardoes ANIMATE! exhibition opens on the 13th July 2013 at the Dorset County Museum

Animate Exhibition 2013Pardoes ANIMATE! exhibition is an exciting new exhibition opening up the world of film animation to all enthusiasts of this fascinating art form.

Yvonne Hellin-Hobbs, curator of the exhibition said, “We hope the ANIMATE! exhibition will illustrate and illuminate the background of the animation art form for a whole new generation of fans. It will also awaken memories in an older generation by bringing some all- time favourite characters to life again at Dorset County Museum.”

ANIMATE! will include over 120 objects on loan from Exeter University, the British Film Institute Archive, The Ray Harryhausen Foundation, David Hand Productions and independent local animators.

One of the Hydra heads from the 1963 film 'Jason and the Argonauts' - The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation © 2013

One of the Hydra heads from the 1963 film ‘Jason and the Argonauts’  © The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation

The artefacts range from Victorian Flick books, zoetropes, shadow theatres, puppets and early animation machines to posters, catalogues and publicity material, original Disney and Hungarian film cells, concept sketches, sheet music and merchandising toys.
Visitors can follow the development of animation through time and see how the technology has developed to the present day, highlighting the work of ground-breaking animators along the way. There will also be a computerised animation package available within the exhibition space for youngsters to make their own, simple animated films.

A screening area will show examples of animated films from the simplicity of early work to the complex 3D animation that we are now so familiar with. It will illustrate how animation has and can be used in commercial

Shaun the Sheep © Aardman Studios

Shaun the Sheep © Aardman Studios

and political forms, such as advertising and propaganda, charting the development of animation during war and peacetime, prosperity and depression. Find out how technology itself has had an influence, with the coming of Television, 3D and games.

A series of events and talks at the museum will complement the exhibition – full details are available on the Museum website, facebook or on the ANIMATE! flyer available from the Museum or local TICs. Look out for a series of workshops to show just how it’s done from modelling a ‘Shaun the Sheep’ to creating 2D animated films.  The exhibition opens at Dorset County Museum on Saturday 13th July and runs until 19th October.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

Dorset County Museum is grateful to the main sponsor, Pardoes Solicitors and to the other generous supporters who have enabled this exhibition to take place:

  • The Mansel-Pleydell & Cecil Trust

ANIMATE! Two Centuries Of Animation From Pencil To Pixel 13th July – 19th October 2013

Shaun the Sheep © Aardman Studios

Shaun the Sheep © Aardman Studios

For summer 2013 Dorset County Museum is mounting a major exhibition called Animate! which will cover the chronology and development of the art and technology of animation and its cultural impact.

Dorset County Museum is working in partnership with The Bill Douglas Centre at University of Exeter, Bournemouth University National Centre for Computer Animation, the British Film Institute and Aardman, as well as and the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation. We are also delighted to have been able to work with Animated Exeter – the South West’s most exciting animation festival, inspiring the animators of the future.

The exhibition will look at the progression of animation from the early Victorian parlour toys, zoetropes, magic lanterns and flip books, through the work of Eadweard Muybridge, on into the golden age of animation in the early 20th century. Displays, installations and objects cover the rise of Walt Disney and the groundbreaking work of Halas and Bachelor, as well as the transition from silent to sound and from cinema to TV. An interactive exhibition suitable for all the family, Animate! will trace the use of animation in commercials, propaganda, pop videos and youth culture and the innovations of CGI, Pixar and recent computer games.

Alongside the Animate! exhibition there will also be an exciting programme of events including talks by Aardman animator Loyd Price. A full range of family activities will also be on offer, including a special half-day model-making workshop on 1st August with expert plasticine artists from the Aardman studios. To find out more about this fascinating series of activities see our events listings.

Dorset County Museum would like to thank the following sponsors for their generous support of the Animate! exhibition: