"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Nature in Art Museum and Art Gallery

"Nature in Art" in Gloucestershire has been on my "wish list of places to visit" for years. I noticed recently that the Arborealists were holding an exhibition there in celebration of trees and I was determined to visit. The journey was fairly uneventful (thank goodness the major roadworks to create a "smart motorway" along a long section of the M5 appear to have finished at long last) until we neared the journey's end and the satnav sent us up a country lane to a village called Sandhurst with no sign whatsoever of Nature in Art.

We stopped in a lane where there were some beautiful horses nearby


to try and work out a route from an atlas. We ended up in Gloucester! although I did have a brief view of the cathedral there - another place I would love to visit one day. Mr RR was getting exceedingly disgruntled and threatening to drive straight back home when by sheer luck we hit upon a signpost to the Art Gallery and reached there within a few minutes.



Nature in Art, which is the world' first museum for art inspired by nature, is housed in Wallsworth Hall which features in Simon Jenkins's book "England's Best 1000 Houses". The present hall was commissioned in 1740 by a Samuel Hayward whose family had a long connection with the local area. A few generations later the hall passed to the de Winton family before being sold in the early 1900's to a Midlands industrialist, a Mr James Dorrington. He became involved in local affairs and, like the de Wintons, made several improvements to the property. Following his death and that of his wife 23 years later the house was sold to Gloucester City Corporation in 1944 and the Hall was turned into a special children's nursery. By the 1950's the amount of children needing care dropped and the building was again sold and used as a storage facility for a local auction house and then converted into flats. In 1987 the Hall was bought by what was then called the Society of Wildlife Artists (now called the Nature in Art Trusts) and they carried out a major renovation and restoration to turn it into an art gallery and museum.

The "icicle pattern" stonework is an unusual feature of the Roman Doric columns at the front of the hall.

We first looked at the Arborealists Exhibition which really was excellent.

Sorry no photos - you are not allowed to take any inside the house (I think due to copyright reasons).

Then out into the sculpture garden at the side of the house where you are allowed to take pictures. There is a huge variety of mainly metal sculptures - some made of recycled materials such as horseshoes.

Fountain by David Howarth - a Shropshire sculptor. Made from galvanised steel.

Squid by Neil Gow - 6 feet in length and carved from a single piece of English Ash.

Time for lunch - I was very good and resisted the cake and had a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich and salad.

We then looked around the rest of the art galleries - sorry again no photos but there were some superb paintings and sculptures - including works by David Shepherd, Tunnicliffe and Thorburn. The paintings on display change regularly so with a further visit you would see different art work. Apparently they sometimes hold an exhibition of Tunnicliffe's paintings so I will be looking out for that.

Stone lion on a pillar at the entrance to the hall.

A few purchases from the shop - I am afraid I just could not resist this book and it is worth every penny!

Kilpeck church - regarded by many as the finest Norman church in England - is currently top of my "places to visit" list!

There was another book on the Wildlife of Laurie Lee's Slad Valley which was very tempting but I decided not to push my luck!

*D - photos taken by my son with the Canon bridge camera.


amanda peters said...

So pleased you found it, the building is very grand and I am glad it's purpose has been used in a good way, shame you couldn't take photos as I would have liked to see inside.

Love the sculptures out side and you spotted a Green man :) lunch looks yummy. One book is better than no books, maybe a slight purchase of the other book can be done on another day :))
Amanda x

Deborah RusticPumpkin said...

Wow! Thanks for this ~ I saw a lot of sculptures I'd love to have in my own garden, from that beautiful owl, to the phoenix~like steampunk bird, and those giant poppies and more. What a wonderful day out, and thank you again for sharing it!

Pam said...

Made me laugh over the disgruntled Mr RR, i've had moments like that with my husband when trying to find places in the middle of nowhere! Well worth searching for though, the sculptures are great!

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks very much Amanda - the house was rather impressive such a shame no photos were allowed but there was some superb wildlife art. They do art and craft courses there too - a pity it isn't closer (about an hour and a quarter away) depending on traffic M5!

I was lucky to get away with buying one book only managed it because D and B were already on their way back to the car!! But if we go again Laurie Lee book may also find its way home :))

Deborah RusticPumpkin - Thanks so much Deborah - my favourite sculpture was the owl too :) So glad you enjoyed the post - one of the things I like about Blogger that you get chance to see places you might not visit yourself :)

Pam - Thanks Pam. Mr RR was very fed up - I had a back-up plan of Gloucester cathedral if all else failed!!! I did tell them though not to leave the A38 as I had read the entrance was off it but as usual they followed the satnav to the letter!!

Rosie said...

Glad you found the Museum it looks well worth the effort. Such a lovely building with wonderful exhibitions inside. I love the sculptures, they are so unusual especially like the poppy seed heads, the crane on a branch and the owl. Lunch looks wonderful too. I must remember this place for a 'stop off' when we next go that way. I'd love to visit Kilpeck church one day:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks very much Rosie. Well worth a visit especially if you are passing nearby and can "stop off". It isn't too expensive (£4.50/£5.00) and close to car park if you haven't got much time. There are 2 gallery rooms for whichever exhibition is on plus 2 more upstairs plus corridors with the standard gallery of paintings.

There are so many beautiful churches in Herefordshire :) But Kilpeck does look extra special - have been reading their website! Much Marcle is another one on the wish list although that is closer to home and could be combined with a visit to somewhere like Ledbury for the rest of the family!

Pam said...

Haha sounds about right!!

Ragged Robin said...

Pam lol! I must admit that when my son and I went to Puzzlewood and we got hopelessly lost (using google map directions!) I wasn't at all happy. We got there in the end though via satnav and an atlas (took about 3/4 hr longer than it should!) and as for Wimbledon well best not go there! :)

Caroline Gill said...

So glad you managed to find your way (and had a peep of the cathedral en route). I loved my visit to Nature in Art, but it was many years ago, and I don't recall the outside exhibits. I also wish it was closer - to me, but alas, a long way now. The lunch looks excellent, too.

Ragged Robin said...

Caroline Gill - Thanks Caroline. I couldn't find a guide book to the museum so not sure how long the sculpture garden has been there - may be developed since your visit? Its about an an hour and a quarter from here (depending on traffic motorways!) - so not that far.

Pete Duxon said...

really pleased you made it.... http://thequacksoflife.blogspot.co.uk/2007/08/saturday.html

Ragged Robin said...

Pete Duxon - Thanks Pete - when we last had a conversation about the place I think I got it confused with Compton Verney!!! Thanks for the link - did try to find it on your blog without success!