Art on Trees

Back by popular demand! This new summer edition of the trail features vibrant artworks from Swindon’s Collection, displayed in some of Swindon’s stunning green spaces.

Faringdon Park: 28 July – 7 August

Lydiard Park: 9 – 22 August

Lawns Park: 24 Aug – 5 September

Family Resources for Exploring the Trail:

For more family resources linked to the artworks in the Art Trail, visit our families pages HERE.

The artworks on show:

Robert Bevan, Back of the Granary, Poland, c.1904

Robert Bevan was a founding member of the Camden Town Group, a cohort of artists who advocated a modern style of painting at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Their radical approaches sometimes led to controversy in the British art establishment. The striking colour contrasts and bold, juicy brushstrokes of ‘Back of the Granary, Poland’ would have been unfamiliar the eyes of many viewers and commentators at the time.

The painting was made during one of the artist’s visits to Szeliwy in Poland, where the family home of his wife and fellow artist Stanislawa Karlowska resided. During these trips, Bevan took full advantage of the countryside, making several experiments using pure colour. ‘Back of the Granary, Poland’ gives the impression of a scene drenched in light and vibrant colour. Even the shadows reveal a spectrum purples and blues that usually remain unobserved.

Janet Boulton, Summer Window, Ridgeway Farm Cottage, 1975, Oil on board, 152 x 152cm

Janet Boulton is a Wiltshire-born artist, whose work is driven by an interest in relationships between the man-made and the natural, windows and reflections, the language of symbols and garden design. Janet has exhibited widely, including two solo exhibitions at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery. 

This painting depicts a window at Ridgeway Farm Cottage, looking out to the vast space of the surrounding countryside, towards Liddington Hill. It shows a contrast between the structured window and the natural landscape beyond, with three eggs on the windowsill and a window latch signalling a threshold between domestic and exterior spaces.

‘Summer Window, Ridgeway Farm Cottage’ was displayed at Janet Boulton’s 1977 exhibition ‘Windows and Reflections’ at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.

Edward J Buttar, Cricklade Landscape, undated, Oil on canvas, 62 x 75cm

This charming painting gives us an incredible impression of shifting light and changing weather. On the one hand the landscape is lit by a dazzling light, but on the other, dark clouds loom and wind blows the trees which are beautifully painted with small expressive brushstrokes. The lone woman at the front of the scene, to whom we are drawn by her red shawl, could be using her umbrella to shelter from bright sunshine, or incoming rain.

Simon Carter, Figure and Yacht, 2013

Simon Carter uses the landscape as an arena for experimentation and emotional response, and expresses a sense of a place through a careful observation of his surroundings. In this sense, he continues a strong tradition of landscape painting in British art advocated by the likes of JMW Turner and John Constable. Yet his painting style is undeniably contemporary, and relies on a balance between instinct and observation. He does not set out to replicate the landscape, but reveals the lines, shapes and colours that come to mind after spending time with a place. Like many of his paintings, ‘Figure and Yacht’ was inspired by the East Coast where Carter lives.

Leslie Cole, Boy with a Bird, 1954/55

Leslie Cole was born in Swindon, in 1911, and went on to become one of the greatest War Artists in Britain. At first, he was rejected by the War Artists Advisory Committee, but when he finally got the job of Official War Artist, the work he did to record the atrocities of war was extensive. He travelled to Malta, France, Italy, Greece, Germany, Singapore and Burma Cole, unflinchingly recording the massive impact of the war, from the working life of soldiers to the horrors of concentration camps. Cole is extremely important to our understanding of what people experienced during World War Two.  

‘Boy with a Bird’ was painted in the mid 1950s, after Cole’s time as a War Artist. The warm, vibrant colours and clothing of the sitter imply it was painted in a location with a warm climate, though we do not know where. There is something beautiful and relaxed about the setting, but there is also a sadness in the sitter’s eyes. We don’t know much about Cole’s travels after the war, and it is possible that it was painted from memory. The boy seems to represent a lingering feeling of sadness and regret, even as the world did its best to recover from the horrific experiences of the war.

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 one of the main figures 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 inetersting artworks from Swindon’s collection by listening to our talk ‘The Story of Swindon’s Modern Art Collection’ here –

Vicente Do Rego Monteiro, Tennis, 1928, Oil on canvas, 101.6 x 76.2cm

Vicente Do RegoMonteiro was an influential Brazilian artist who spent a lot of time in Paris in the 1910s, and then the late 1920s. He studied and exhibited extensively there, and was familiar with some of the most famous artists of the day, including Pablo Picasso.

In the 1920s Monteiro produced many artworks inspired by sports. Tennis is a particularly interesting piece. It depicts a woman at the centre of the image, leaping into the air with a tennis racket raised over her head. She is wearing the type of short tennis dress that became acceptable around the time this painting was made. Prior to the 1920s, women had worn long skirts, but throughout the years they became shorter. This enabled greater comfort and movement, as we can see by the leaping figure in Monteiro’s painting. 

Discover more about Tennis by listening to Episode 30 of our Art Snaps Talk Series –

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 –