(News) Swindon Spring Festival Talk: The Story of Swindon’s Art Collection

Paul Ayshford Methuen ‘The Port of Bristol’ – One of the first paintings to enter the Swindon Collection
(c) James Methuen-Campbell; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

I spend a lot of time talking about Swindon’s art collection; the artists, the exhibitions, the techniques. Of course, the main plug is that it’s one of the best collections of modern British art in the UK. Naturally, the question I’m frequently asked in response to this, is something along the lines of “How did this important collection end up in Swindon (of all places!)?”

So when I was given the opportunity to give a talk for the fabulous Swindon Spring Festival this year, I saw it as an opportunity to discuss the bigger story of Swindon’s art collection. This seemed fitting for a festival that has its roots in storytelling (having formerly been the Swindon Festival of Literature), and thinking about the broader history of the collection shines a whole new light on how lucky we are to have it here in Swindon.

Of course, it was impossible to give the talk in person at gorgeous Lower Shaw Farm as initially planned. So instead we’ve released it on YouTube in a somewhat similar style to the Art Snaps. It’s a little bit longer than the podcast though, as it’s a big story to tell…

Through 12 (actually, it was technically 13 in the end) artworks I discuss the way the collection was established and how it has grown; from the first generous donations by Phelps and Bomford, to collaboration with the Tate’s Richard Morphet, grants from numerous organisations, recent exciting projects and significant contemporary gifts.  

Without a doubt there’s plenty I’ve missed out in this 30 minute talk, but my overall message is that the collection wouldn’t exist without the generosity and vision of the people and organisations Swindon Museum and Art Gallery has worked with over the years, and we remain very thankful to them!

I hope you enjoy the talk, which is still available via our YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwLHgHbvoC0OF8zDXyv-EPQ and Spring Spring Festival’s YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX2eEDmlB9SDS-iACQPzEhw

Katie Ackrill

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