The Rugby Collection 2011

Part of my homework this summer for the Art Foundation course is to watch as many Art programs as possible and visit Contemporary Art Exhibitions.

Rugby has an Art Gallery and Museum within the new Library.   If you are in the area, it is well worth visiting for a couple of hours and is free to the public.  You can’t get it better than that.  The current display is The Rugby Collection 2011.  The space is not large and is over two floors.  There are some interactive works and interpretations by some  schoolchildren which are interesting and some are quite inspiring.

There were five bodies of work that I was particularly taken with.  Although I was allowed to take photographs, I had to sign a release not to publish them.  However, I have found photographs of two of them on a BBC website which I will link up here as they are already in the public domain.  I will also attach links about the artists so you can learn more about them.

Christopher Wood (1901-1930), Entrance to Harbour, Pencil and Gouache .  I couldn’t find any images of this painting, however there are similar harbour scenes if you Google him.  What I particularly liked about this image was that it was of something we could all recognise – a harbour, boats, people sunbathing – but all put together in an abstract way.  The colours are muted pastels with the centre of the picture a pink beach where the sunbathers are in full view of the boats.  I am not aware of what the symbolism is here, however I do not think it is as innocent painting as it first appears.  Either that or I have a dirty mind.  The simplicity of the drawing inspires me to try to focus on the bigger picture and free up my mind and hand in my own painting.

Jennifer Palmer (b.1935), Old Rectory Garden, Oil on Board, 1958


I really can’t find anything about Jennifer Palmer.  I like the moodiness of this painting.  Autumn is one of my favourite seasons mainly because we get such lovely skies in the evening and whatever colour left in the garden looks so vibrant compared to the barren ground around.

Valerie Thornton (1931-1991), White Church, Oil on Canvas, 1958


Although simple and naive in design and of the style of many paintings of the 40’s and 50’s, I am particularly struck by the texture of this painting.  The colours are muted neutrals, mainly white and grey, without conveying a sense of grimness.  It reminds me of winter, but in a good way.

Kenneth Rowntree (1915-1997), The New Window, Indian Ink, Watercolour and Gouache, c. around 1946

Here is a link to a similar painting as I cannot find this one online.  At least you will be able to get a sense of his style.  Rowntree was one of the  Great Bardfield Artists, which included Eric Ravilious as a member.  The style to Ravilious is similar.  I particularly like paintings from this era and in this style.  The subject matter is not outstanding, just a house, with a tree and a ladder against the house.  However, the colours are harmonious and it is easy to see that some work has been going on.  Just one image of normal life in a slightly stylised way.

Humphrey Spender (1910-2005), In a Suffolk Village, Lavenham, 1948, Gouache on paper laid on board

I couldn’t really find anything similar online to compare with, except the style is similar in outlook to the one above.  It is just a few houses on a street with a lamp-post and a figure of a man in a hat, as would depict the era.  As stated earlier, I am particularly drawn to architectural paintings.  The colours in this painting are fairly neutral with muted orange and yellow ochre that give it some atmosphere and make it less gloomy.

There were other works in the collection that I found interesting, however these five were the ones that stood out for me and give you an indication of my taste, which is quite eclectic actually!  What makes this exhibition particularly special for me at the moment was what I was able to learn about some of the artists while researching this project.  There is no jargon or mumbo jumbo to decipher about the work as the work speaks for itself, more or less.