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.