Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Group Visit to the National Museum of Wales on 12th December 2014

Participants able to attend: Gilly Thomas, Eleanor Brooks, Noel McCready, Wanda Zyborska, Noelle Griffiths, Huw Jones, Linda Davies, Marged Pendrell, Jane McCormack, John Renshaw, Iwan Lewis and Andrew Smith

from l to r: John Renshaw, Wanda Zyborska, Noel McCready, Gilly Thomas, Huw Jones (standing) Noelle Griffiths , Jane McCormack and Marged Pendrell


After early morning train and car journeys we congregated in the main café area of the museum at 11.30am and were met by Bryony Dawkes, Partnership Projects Curator. Conversations immediately started on the possibilities of having access to the entire collection in a focused session. There had been planning with many requesting particular items; Daumier’s works on paper; the sketchbooks of Terry Setch; drawings and sketchbooks of Thomas Jones; Prunella Clough; John Hoyland; Magritte and Gwen John. For others this was a time just to look and find. We were able to visit the store rooms to view specific works and here, other works not on display were also discovered. There were so many surprises; a small Sutherland green and orange; a Gwen John, a Keith Vaughan. This was something of a treasure trove with unexpected works by artists being revealed as the racks were pulled out.

John Renshaw, Bryony Dawkes (NMC) and Jane McCormack view Hodgkin

We were impressed by the scale of the collection. When confronted by so many quality works in a small space there is a potency in the experience not replicated in any other form. Howard Hodgkin, Ceri Richards, Max Ernst, Zobole and Sutherland were among some of the surprises with other unexpected discoveries like Carol Robertson and Karel Appel.
from l to r; Iwan Lewis, John Renshaw, Noelle Griffiths, Jane McCormack, Gilly Thomas and Linda Davies receives instruction from Brony Dawkes, Partnership Projects Curator

Discussions ranged early on from the connections that may be made between works in defining a place to start new work. The visual experience and process; looking for the everyday; colour field painting and the hidden were among some conversations. Many sketches and notes were made with Monet providing inspiration for actual planned painting studies in the gallery.
Huw Jones takes on Monet while Gilly Thomas looks on

The prints and drawings room was equally amazing as the store with Daumier drawings and prints; sketchbooks by Jones, Setch and works on paper by Sutherland among some of the works viewed.

Gilly Thomas, Wanda Zyborska and Eleanor Brooks

Another highlight of the day was looking at works in the gallery not currently open to the public. Here the larger works requested from the collection had been brought up to the gallery and resting on the floor these works acquired a kind of intimacy not usually found in the conventional setting; two Morandi’s placed together on soft blocks; a large Caulfield and Appel; Magritte, Ernst and several more Gwen Johns.

Gilly Thomas, Wanda Zyborska, Eleanor Brooks and Noelle Griffiths
For everyone, this was a day of revelation and discovery because despite the planning and identification of works prior to the visit, there was surprise and the unexpected. For others, it was a time to browse what exactly was on display and to make decisions on the works that might lead to the development of a new series in situ; the immediate response to the collection. Our thanks go to all the museum staff that were with exception friendly and accommodating and particular to Bryony for all the planning that meant in five hours we were able to achieve so much.

Marged Pendrell, Wanda Zyborska and Eleanor Brooks
Noel McCready and John Renshaw

Tuesday, 16 December 2014