What is Art on Trees?
Art on Trees is an exciting trail that challenges participants to find ten vibrant artworks from Swindon’s collection, which will be hidden in Swindon’s green spaces throughout October.
Who can take part?
Anyone! Art on Trees is for anyone who wants to explore the great outdoors, find out more about Swindon’s art collection and perhaps get a little bit creative. If you’re taking part as a family you can access exciting resources to help you with the trail via the links below. If you’re a grown-up who would like to find out more about the artworks in the trail, there is information for you too!
When and where does it take place?
‘Art on Trees’ will tour to four green parks in Swindon throughout October:
Town Gardens – 6 – 11 October
Coate Water – 13 – 18 October
Stanton Park – 20 – 25 October
Lydiard Park – 27 October – 1 November
Why is it happening?
The trail encourages visitors to engage with nature and creativity, through Swindon’s beautiful green parks and nationally significant art collection.
With government guidelines around Covid-19 preventing Swindon Museum and Art Gallery from opening to the public, we’re finding safe and creative ways to help people explore its art collection. ‘Art on Trees’ is a part of Swindon Museum and Art Gallery’s learning and engagement project ‘Art on Tour’, which aims to share the collection with more people, in more places throughout Swindon.
How can I take part?
It’s easy! Just pop along to one of the participating parks during the dates listed above, and have a fun time finding ten bright banners displaying artworks from Swindon’s collection. These will be tied to trees… mostly!
What else do I need to think about before I set off?
- Parking fees may apply
- Don’t forget to dress appropriately for the changeable British weather
- The trail responds to the size of the parks, so do bear tired little legs in mind!
Artworks on Display…
David Bent, Mr and Mrs Aerobot and Babybot, c.2006
Swindon-based artist David Bent creates work responding to themes and events of contemporary life, including conflict, inequality, war and technology. Aerospace also informs a large amount of his work, and is perhaps the subject matter for which he is best known. Bent’s interest in aviation goes back to his childhood, as he was the son of an Aviation Enthusiast and a member of the air cadets at school. After a visit to Fairford’s Air Tattoo in 2003, images of aeroplanes began to appear in his work with great energy and vibrancy.
Mr and Mrs Aerobot and Babybot is part of the the Aerobot Series, which Bent began in 2006. These playful photocollages combine his own images of aircraft noses, with photo images from his past. For more insights into this piece, listen to Episode 12 of Art Snaps here.
To find out more about David Bent and his work, take a look at our Q&A with David Bent here.
Robert Bevan, Back of the Granary, Poland, c.1904
Robert Bevan was a founding member of the important yet short-lived Camden Town Group, which was active between the years 1911-13. Its members focused on portraying the realities of urban life, and their images of pre-war London are important within art history, and history in general.
However this piece demonstrates Bevan’s gift for capturing the atmosphere of an abundant rural scene through fluid, expressive strokes of paint, vibrant contrasting colours and a strong emphasis on light and shade. Though it is a small-scale painting, at around 34 x 41cm, it has great power and presence. It was painted in Szeliwy, Poland, during a visit to the family home of Staniswala de Karlowska, another painter represented in Swindon’s art collection, and Bevan’s wife.
Monster Chetwynd, Catpeople Collage #4, 2017
Monster Chetwynd (formerly known as Marvin Gaye Chetwynd) is one of the UK’s leading performance artists, but recently her work has evolved, blurring the boundaries between performance, painting, film and sculpture. Her work fuses popular culture and classic references, and embraces an amateurish technique, which is playful and expressive.
Catpeople Collage #4 is one of three pieces by Chetwynd which entered Swindon’s art collection in 2018. The piece draws inspiration from a number of sources, including the two low-budget Cat People Films of 1942 and 1982, renaissance art and medieval clothing. Bought together in one boisterous and exciting collage, these images poke fun at the hierarchies of art history, visual culture and commercialism.
Find out more about this piece by listening to Episode 7 of Art Snaps here.
Roger Fry, The Black Sea Coast, 1911
Roger Fry (1866-1934) was an influential artist, art critic and curator at the beginning of the 20th Century. He staged exhibitions that bought the most edgy European modern art to the attention of the British public for the first time; shocking audiences changing the face of British art in the 20th Century. He was s member of a famous collective of artists and thinkers named The Bloomsbury Group, who were among the first to embrace Fry’s exhibitions and ideas.
The Black Sea Coast – Studland Bay demonstrates interesting new developments in early modern British art. These include large planes of flat colour, and bold outlines which draw attention to the forms of the landscape. For Fry, capturing the atmosphere of Studland Bay required a focus on form and colour, rather than specific detail.
Discover more about Roger Fry and the Bloomsbury Group by listening to Episode 13 of our Art Snaps Podcast here.
Howard Hodgkin, Gramophone, 1964-66
Howard Hodgkin (1932 – 2017) is one of Britain’s most important abstract artists. He decided to become a painter at just 5 years old, and studied at the Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, right here in Wiltshire from 1950-4. In 1962, aged 30, he presented his first solo exhibition, and held a show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London with Allen Jones (also featured in Art on Trees). In 1984 Hodgkin represented Britain at the Venice Biennale, in 1985 he won the prestigious Turner Prize, and in 1992 he was knighted.
Hodgkin’s paintings always began with the people and places he knew and attempted to express a feeling for a particular moment in time. Swindon’s painting started with two friends listening to music on a gramophone. Over the years he added layers of paint to conceal specific detail, and emphasise the musical quality of the work through colour and organic forms.
To hear more about this fascinating painting, listen to Episode 21 of Art Snaps, ‘Lost in Music’ here.
Allen Jones, One Night Only, 2003
Allen Jones is a pioneering figure of British Pop Art, which emerged in the 1960s in response to consumer-driven culture, mass media and developments in technology. Jones’ work is characterised by vibrant colour and graphic precision, and he has had great influence on fashion, graphic design and photography. He is most famous for his sculpture, painting and lithography, but has also been involved in producing posters, costume and stage design.
One Night Only is a screenprint, which almost looks like an advertisement for a film. A woman’s face is depicted with a few graphic lines against a yellow background, and the animated form of a male figure is playing a piano. His arms and legs are repeated several times, giving the impression of vigorous movement in his performance.
Find out more about One Night Only and other interesting artworks from Swindon’s collection by listening to our talk ‘The Story of Swindon’s Modern Art Collection’ here.
Desmond Morris, Girl Selling Flowers, 1946
Desmond Morris has earned his fame in many guises over the years, contributing valuable work in broadcasting, filmmaking, zoology, anthropology, writing and surrealist painting. It was in Swindon that he began his successful artistic career, and met his inspiration for this early work.
Girl Selling Flowers was painted when Morris was just 18 years old, and depicts his girlfriend at the time, Diana Dors. The big red lips and blonde hair were defining characteristics of the Swindon born actress and model, and other signs of the glamorous Dors can be detected in the shapely leg and black stiletto heel. But these latter details are almost swallowed up in the rest of the scene, which represents the noise and colours Morris encountered at the Petticoat Lane Market in London.
Discover more about Girl Selling Flowers, and other vibrant artworks from Swindon’s Collection, by reading ‘Five Uplifting Artworks from Swindon’s Collection’ here.
James Quin, Landlocked, c.2011
James Quin is an award winning painter, and a lecturer at the Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts. His work observes and explores narratives of contemporary life through a push and pull between reality and fantasy. Shapes and forms overlap, move in and out of focus, and oscillate between abstraction and figuration. The resulting works are ambiguous and otherworldly.
Landlocked is one of a large group of artworks from the Contemporary British Painters, which were donated to Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in 2013. To hear more about this acquisition, listen to Episode 22 of Art Snaps here.
Edward Wadsworth, Bright Intervals, 1928
Edward Wadsworth (1889-1949) was known for his association with a movement known as Vorticism, which celebrated the speed and dynamism of all things modern in the early decades of the 1900s. He’s perhaps most famous for his dazzle camouflage designs for battleships during the first world war, which involved creating geometric patterns on ships to confuse the enemy’s perception of their position and speed.
After the war he continued to paint nautical themes. Bright Intervals depicts an arrangement of objects associated with the sea, including a shell, a ball of tarred twine, a barometer, a blueprint, fishing floats, a joiner’s square and binoculars, all encircled by a vibrant red ribbon. It is painted with incredible precision and crispness, which reflects his early training as an engineering draughtsman.
Find out more about this artwork and other still life paintings from Swindon’s art collection, by listening to episode 15 of Art Snaps here.
Alfred Wallis, Ship Amid Tall Waves, Undated
Alfred Wallis (1855-1942) is an interesting figure in British art. He was an illiterate Cornish fisherman with no artistic training, and it was only in 1922, when he was in his sixties, that he began painting to help relieve his loneliness after the death of his wife. Therefore his subject matter reflects what he knew, and includes mostly boats and things associated with sailing, such as ports and lighthouses. Many of his paintings were created from memory rather than observation, and are charmingly naïve in style.
He often used materials that were readily available to him, rather than professional art supplies. Ship Amid Tall Waves is painted on a piece of cardboard supplied by a greengrocer. The natural colour of the cardboard forms the vibrant orangey-yellow background of the painting, on which the artist has drawn and painted a very simple image of a boat in turbulent waters.
Ship Amid Tall Waves is included in Swindon Museum and Art Gallery’s virtual exhibition Big Hitters, which is available to view here.