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This exhibition explores the art and culture of 1960s Britain through some of the most significant paintings and drawings from the Swindon Collection. It features work by Richard Hamilton, Howard Hodgkin, Michael Craig-Martin and Mary Fedden.


The 1960s was an exciting time in British art. Against a backdrop of growing wealth, pop culture and personal freedom, a new generation of postwar artists were attending London’s art schools, surrounded by an unrivalled cultural scene. British art was infused with the challenges and opportunities found in 1960s Britain, including the tension between personal expression and social responsibility.

19 artworks

1961

The Family
© DACS 2021. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

The Family

Blackman is an Australian artist who regularly focuses on the human figure in his art. This bold painting shows a group of figures painted in black and grey.

This painting was given to Swindon in 1962, one year after Blackman featured in an important exhibition of contemporary Australian art at the Whitechapel Gallery in London.

The Family 1961
Charles Blackman (b.1928)
Oil on board
H 122 x W 106 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

1965

Pastoral
© Tate Images. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

Pastoral

Pastoral 1965
Cecil Collins (1908–1989)
Oil & tempera on board
H 75 x W 90.5 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

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Box That Never Closes
© Michael Craig-Martin. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

Box That Never Closes

Michael Craig-Martin was born in Dublin Ireland in 1941. He grew up and was educated in the United States, studying Fine Art at the Yale School of Art and Architecture. He has lived and worked in Britain since 1966.

Craig-Martin began making constructions using a variety of materials and colouring them white or silver or leaving the natural wood finish.

Box That Never Closes 1967
Michael Craig-Martin (b.1941)
Blockboard, polyurethane paint, varnish & brass hardware
H 61 x W 61 x D 61 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

1962

The Thames
© the estate of Mary Fedden / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

The Thames

Fedden painted this picture ‘from the garden wall, looking upstream to the island, Chiswick Eyot. It is high summer because angelica and cow parsley are out in the quay in June.'

The Thames 1962
Mary Fedden (1915–2012)
Oil on canvas
H 49.3 x W 59.5 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

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Silage Heap near Drumburgh, Cumbria, II
© the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Silage Heap near Drumburgh, Cumbria, II 1964
Sheila Mary Fell (1931–1979)
Oil on canvas
H 69.5 x W 90.3 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

1962

Grey, Red and Black Verticals
© estate of Terry Frost. All rights reserved, DACS 2021. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

Grey, Red and Black Verticals

Terry Frost left school and had a variety of jobs before joining the Commandos in 1939.

Frost first visited St Ives in 1946 and was influenced by Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. The artists at St Ives encouraged Frost to move towards abstract painting. He combined this with an interest in modern European art and the work of the great American abstract painters, like Barnet Newman and Willem de Kooning.

This painting was made at an important stage in Frost’s career. The three curves at the top of the canvas were inspired by Rubens painting of three goddesses. The work is inspired by women, in Frost’s words, “perhaps from a time when woman ruled the world". The smear of thin grey paint suggests a reclining figure.

Grey, Red and Black Verticals 1962
Terry Frost (1915–2003)
Oil on canvas
H 101 x W 126.5 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

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November
© estate of Roger Hilton. All rights reserved, DACS 2021. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
November 1955
Roger Hilton (1911–1975)
Oil on canvas
H 112 x W 86.5 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

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Gramophone
© Estate of Howard Hodgkin. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Gramophone 1964–1966
Howard Hodgkin (1932–2017)
Oil on canvas
H 71.5 x W 91.5 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

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Painting
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Painting 1961
Charles Houghton Howard (1899–1978)
Oil on canvas
H 59.4 x W 85 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

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Action Painting
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Action Painting 1958
George Melhuish (1916–1985)
Oil on paper board
H 56 x W 70.5 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

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Vortex
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Vortex 1968
George Melhuish (1916–1985)
Oil on paper
H 61 x W 85 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

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The Mysterious Gift
© Desmond Morris. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
The Mysterious Gift 1965
Desmond Morris (b.1928)
Oil on canvas
H 99 x W 70.7 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

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Play: Here We Exemplify (Fugato) the Additive Perseverative and Subtractive Modes, Thesis as Object and Artwork as Residue of Process
© Tom Phillips. All rights reserved, DACS 2021. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Play: Here We Exemplify (Fugato) the Additive Perseverative and Subtractive Modes, Thesis as Object and Artwork as Residue of Process 1968
Tom Phillips (b.1937)
Acrylic on canvas
H 45.7 x W 152 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

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Night Sky
© the artist's estate/courtesy Flowers Gallery, London. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Night Sky 1957
Jack Smith (1928–2011)
Oil on board
H 58.5 x W 58.5 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

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Once
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Once 1962
Richard Smith (1931–2016)
Oil on canvas
H 213.5 x W 121.5 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

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Elektra
© estate of George Warner Allen. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Elektra 1969
George Warner Allen (1916–1988)
Oil & tempera on canvas
H 90 x W 100 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

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Landscape
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Landscape 1956
Denis Wirth-Miller (1915–2010)
Oil on canvas
H 75.5 x W 90.5 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

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Winged Idol
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
Winged Idol 1963
Roger Leigh (1925–1997)
Bronze & yew
H 46.5 x W 47.7 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery

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The Sibyl
© Tate Images. Photo credit: Swindon Museum and Art Gallery
The Sibyl 1964
Cecil Collins (1908–1989)
Oil & acrylic on board
H 75 x W 90 cm
Swindon Museum and Art Gallery