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This is another of our Art Snap curations here on ArtUK. This curation is also available as a video with commentary by our Collections and Exhibitions Officer, Katie Ackrill. Head over to the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery YouTube channel to watch the video.In this curation, titled 'Staff picks’, we've chosen to get a few different voices from several members of staff from Swindon Museum and Art Gallery and asked them what they would like us to discuss. This could be either a favourite artwork or something they’re curious about and want to explore further. We were thrilled to receive plenty of emails with an eclectic range of suggestions, which reflects what we love about art- that the experience is often subjective.

4 artworks

1985

Descent of the Bull's Head
© the artist / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Museum & Art Swindon

Descent of the Bull's Head

Hambling first saw a bullfight in 1977 in Madrid which had a profound impact on her. The subject matter “bubbled away quietly inside her,” until she decided to pursue it properly. So in 1985 she went to Barcelona to watch bullfighting again, and was struck by the idea that the bull enters the ring proud, powerful and free, but during the course of the short fight is weakened and humiliated. As a result of this, the painting depicts four stages of the bull transforming from a powerful animal, to being tormented, struck and eventually falling to the ground. The painting is intentionally morbid, as to focus on the brutish side of human nature.

Descent of the Bull's Head 1985
Maggi Hambling (b.1945)
Oil on cotton duck
H 160 x W 122.5 cm
Museum & Art Swindon

1967

The House with the Yellow Door
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Museum & Art Swindon

The House with the Yellow Door

George Reason’s House with a Yellow Door was painted in 1967, and it shows the façade of a building in Swindon’s Old Town. Amazingly the building itself hasn’t changed much, though the door has been painted black. But certainly much of the architectural detail is similar, including the decorative columns, the rounded arch above the door, the mouldings above windows, the wrought iron banister and of course the door itself.

And it’s a lovely scene to be able to reminisce over, as Reason has captured it as if on a bright day, with the sun hitting the stone, the steps and the railings.

The House with the Yellow Door 1967
George Reason (1901–1984)
Oil on board
H 28 x W 38 cm
Museum & Art Swindon

1955

Teasel Plant, 21 Warwick Crescent, W2, London
© the artist / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Museum & Art Swindon

Teasel Plant, 21 Warwick Crescent, W2, London

This piece shows a teasel plant leaning against a window at night, from the inside of his studio in Paddington by the Regents Canal. The location is quite significant in itself because it was in the same district as numerous other notable artists working in London at the time, including John Minton and Lucien Freud. It seems there was a very interesting artistic culture going on there. At a glance it may seem that the plant in the painting is outside the building, however, it is actually painted from the inside of Tindle's Studio, looking out into the night. This odd inside/outside dynamic makes the piece even more thought-provoking.

Teasel Plant, 21 Warwick Crescent, W2, London 1955
David Tindle (b.1932)
Oil on canvas
H 79.7 x W 59 cm
Museum & Art Swindon

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Cricklade Landscape, Wiltshire
Photo credit: Museum & Art Swindon

Cricklade Landscape, Wiltshire

Sadly, we have very little information on the artwork or the artist, apart from the fact that Buttar lived from 1873-1943 and that this was one of two landscapes bought from him in 1944. This is a charming piece which 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. It is certainly a great impression of the changeable weather we’re used to experiencing here in Britain.

Cricklade Landscape, Wiltshire
Edward James Buttar (1873–1943)
Oil on canvas
H 62 x W 75 cm
Museum & Art Swindon

If you enjoyed any of these artworks, or want to see what else Swindon Museum and Art Gallery have on offer, feel free to head over to our shop page at: https://artuk.org/shop/featured-collections/swindon-museum-and-art-gallery.html