Despite recent rain art brings summer to me, usually. This autumn we know we have given and received pleasure from our Members’ exhibition Noticing the Ordinary. Every time I went into that part of the Brewhouse it lifted my spirits. Ten paintings were bought, thirty-one responses were put in the High 5s box, and the taking down of our work went well. My apologies for the confusion over the taking down date. I wrote to thank all those at the Brewhouse who had helped us, and Vanessa Lefrancois, Chief Executive, then wrote to ‘thank us for bringing such an excellent and diverse group of artists together for your second Summer Exhibition’.

It was clear that – in a modest way – we had put some good art into the heart of Taunton this summer, art which was accessible and free to look at. May that one day be an all-the-year-round happening!

The High 5s voting produced more cheer. There were 31 responses posted in the box. The five categories were 1.Favourite work, 2.One that made you Smile, 3.Favourite Landscape, 4.Work that made you Think, 5. Best ColoursDandelion Puffs by Lesley Bartrop-Clist & Tranquility by Lena Lewis both received 8 votes (across the categories) followed by Michael Tarr’s Beach Pedaso Roundabout & Andrew Bell’s Reflections, Ponte a Serraglio with 7 votes each. In the Favourite category Ron Cann & Pat Preater both had four works nominated, Alexandra Lavizzari & Lena Lewis had three, while Andrew Bell had two others, & Mike Tarr had one more. The following also had one singled out as Favourite: Lyn Mowat, Gillian Solomon, Andre Wallace, Geoffrey Bailey, Tami Boden-Ellis, Elizabeth A.Adams, and Peter Coate whose Farm near St. David’s also received two votes for best landscape, and is still for sale. In category 2 Gillian had 4 votes, Ron 3, Damien Parsons 2; and landscapes also chosen were by Kevin Saunders, Anna Mullett, Christine Marsh, and Sara Dudman. Our thanks to all who showed with us. We hope to return to the Brewhouse in 2020.

Your Committee met on 18 September to review the year so far. On their behalf I will now invite Annie Maw, Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, to be our President. Many of you met or heard her at the very enjoyable Private View back in July. She is a forceful and persuasive speaker, passionately supports what we are doing, and could be a powerful advocate for us. We will let you know her answer.

We have two Open events coming up. Please support them and bring a friend or family members, which could, among other things, lead to us recruiting more members. We have 62 currently. Our next event is our annual Ken Grieb Lecture, Saturday 13 October, 11.00 am in the Conference Centre, Bridgwater & Taunton College. Our speaker is Mary Acton. Her subject is The Spirit of Place in British Art from Bacon to Gormley which she lectures on and has written about. Our thanks go to Ken for his recent sponsorship grant to enable the series to continue into the 2020s.

The second autumn event is designed to encourage people to think about Public Art with particular reference to Taunton. On Saturday 24 November, 11.00 am in the Conference Centre Ann Jones and I will show examples of good and bad public art before hosting a discussion in the second half of the morning. It is hoped that Arts Taunton, which is seeking a sculpture of some sort for, say, Creechbarrow Hill, will participate in this debate that the Trust has arranged. County and local Councillors would be most welcome too.

Meanwhile there is a remarkable exhibition of African Tribal Art at CICCIC until 28th September (best to check first) and Somerset studios are open for one more week. I wonder if you saw the Picasso 1932 exhibition at the Tate Modern. Am I alone in not warming to much of his work of that year? You will, I know, enjoy Anna’s and Damien’s writing which follows this. Our thanks to them. Christmas Lunch for members and their guests is on Wednesday 12 December at the Quantock Restaurant in the College. Anna will be in touch about that. With my best wishes,

Jeremy (Harvey) 22 September, 2018

Pam by Gillian Solomon

Pam by Gillian Solomon

Damien Parsons on Indian Art at the Queen’s Gallery, London

To any reader visiting London I recommend strongly two exhibitions of Indian art at the Queen’s Gallery, together called Splendours of the Subcontinent.

One part is A Prince’s Tour of India 1875-6 and the other shows miniature paintings from the Mughal and Hindu courts.

The Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, travelled around many princely courts as a Progress planned by Victoria and Albert to educate him about this part of the Empire, and to establish diplomatic links.

The Tour meant the exchange of gifts, and the Prince received wonderful treasures of superb design and craftsmanship. A selection is well displayed here to dazzling effect – jewel-encrusted objects of great richness and beauty: jewellery, caskets, arms & armour, courtly objects, ‘curios’ (a peacock inkstand, models of buildings), & so on, in 10 cases.

When the vast & glorious collection came to England it was shown in many British cities, and in Paris. Thousands saw it, and Indian products became very fashionable.

Other rooms show wonderful paintings, mainly in sequences telling stories about the Gods and Kings of Mughal and Hindu cultures. Here too everything is of exquisite beauty.

Tickets give entry for as many visits as you like for a year. The Royal Collections can support many exciting exhibitions. A forthcoming one will be of Leonardo drawings.

If you should go to Barcelona
This is a city full of museums of all kinds; archaeology, ethnology, zoology, early and modern art, Catalan art, Gaudi, Picasso, music, chocolate and wax to name but a few. There is even a museum dedicated to the Giant Mammoth which unfortunately we were unable to track down. We had gone principally however to see the art and we were not disappointed.

If you take the open-top tourist bus you not only gain a very good idea of the layout of the city but are able to get on and off near the places you want to see. Wendy and I went round the city several times (not always intentionally). To the west of the city set in lovely gardens is the Fundació Joan Miró, a beautiful gallery designed by Miró’s friend the architect Josep Lluis Sert. The first impression is one of whiteness and light, the spacious galleries show the artist’s works arranged chronologically and stylistically, much of it donated by family and friends. Drawings, sculpture and paintings reflect Miró’s many influences and interests including Surrealism, the Spanish Civil War and his desire to turn poetry into paint. From the rooftop you get a panoramic view of Barcelona, with Gaudi’s wonderful Sagrada Família towering above the neighbouring buildings. As an added bonus there was a striking exhibition by the French Algerian artist Kader Attia, ‘Scars remind us that our past is real’ whose work on the subject of war and its traumatic after effects left us feeling subdued and thoughtful.

A visit to the Picasso museum was very different. Situated in an old building in the Gothic quarter it houses much of Picasso’s student work which demonstrate his extraordinary early talent. Picasso is reported to have said that he could paint like an old master as a youth and spent the rest of his life trying to draw like a child. Certainly the paintings which he did when he was fifteen and sixteen are remarkable and include a wonderful three quarter length portrait of his mother, her skirt billowing out in shimmering white pastel. After this period in his life the exhibits changed to a variety of later work, including many drawings which relate to his fascination with Las Meninas by Velásquez. My favourite room was devoted to the many paintings of doves Picasso painted in the fifties as a diversion from Las Meninas.

Another of the excellent museums in Barcelona which should not be missed is MNAC, the national museum of Catalan art. It is situated in the Palau Nacional, a magnificent building originally built for Barcelona’s 1929 International Exhibition and reached by a series of stairs and escalators. From the steps you have another wonderful view of the city, including at the foot of the steps the so-called Magic Fountain which at night sends up jets of water in a myriad of colours.

The museum is beautifully laid out, light and airy (and free to the over 65’s – an added bonus for some!) MNAC has four main galleries, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Modern. The Romanesque galleries were astounding. Catalonia is very rich in medieval wall paintings but by the early twentieth century many of them were in danger of disappearing as the chapels and churches where they were situated fell into disrepair. In order to save these wonderful frescoes the decision was made, mostly with the consent of the local population to remove them from the walls (a remarkable process in itself) and re-situate them in the museum. You can now see these beautiful paintings in rooms carefully constructed to resemble their original settings. Sadly we did not have time to visit the Gothic and Renaissance galleries.
If you should go to Barcelona this is just some of the art we enjoyed and you might too.

Anna Mullett

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