CERAMICS STUDENT VOLUNTEER CHLOE MONKS

Chlöe Monks is a 2nd year student on the BA (Hons) Ceramics course at Cardiff School of Art and Design. She has been very much involved with the Ken Stradling Collection this year as a volunteer. She is volunteering with the Crafts Council and the National Museum of Wales as well!

Amongst all the other things she has to do, Chlöe has found the time to post on her blog about her experiences at the collection – Chlöe Monks – Ken Stradling Collection. Whilst with us she has been researching a Kenyan carved wooden stool which is one of a number of ethnographic and folk art objects that Ken has collected over the years. For her thoughts on it see her post African Stool.

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Kenyan woman’s stool. Mid 20th-century. Ken Stradling Collection

Chlöe is volunteering at the National Museum of Wales as a tour guide for their major contemporary ceramics exhibition ‘Fragile’ which is on until October. The exhibition showcases a range of new work by artists and makers working with clay. These include installations by Phoebe Cummings, Keith Harrison and Clare Twomey. Expect to see things get broken… For more information about this show go to the .

Clare-Twomey

Installation. Clare Twomey. ©NMW/Andy Paradise

Chlöe is volunteering at the National Museum of Wales as a tour guide for their major contemporary ceramics exhibition ‘Fragile’ which is on until October. The exhibition showcases a range of new work by artists and makers working with clay. These include installations by Phoebe Cummings, Keith Harrison and Clare Twomey. Expect to see things get broken… For more information about this show see the National Museum of Wales website.

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SID BURNARD – ANIMAL MAGIC

1-2015-04-14 10.35.53Amongst the artists represented in the current show at the Ken Stradling Collection is the driftwood sculptor Sid Burnard. Sid is a longtime friend of Ken’s and says he cut his teeth as a maker whilst working for him at the Bristol Guild years ago. Sid has kindly lent two pieces – a pelican and a pig – from the Goldmark Gallery. The pelican is a delightful piece that quivers gently on its orange plastic foot if you move it or a breeze catches it. It is typical of the kind of playful object that Ken enjoys and sits watching the door from the top shelf in the gallery.

Below is a 32 minute film made by Goldmark to celebrate Sid’s work. Well worth watching.

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Animal Magic – New show at The Stradling Collection opens with a sense of fun

Animal Magic – an Exhibition of Creatures from the Collection opens today at the collection’s Design Study Centre in Park Row, Bristol.

The new show at the Ken Stradling Collection showcases around 90 pieces which reflect Ken’s sense of fun in the form of animals. Every kind of medium is covered from steel to paper and from Wedgwood Coronation souvenir mugs to cheerful Danish wooden toys by Kai Bojesen.

In the gallery Eleanor Glover’s birds have managed to open the cage door and are escaping into the room. Lions roar and bulls posture while Bojesen’s monkey swings from the shelving. A blue papier maché tabby is curled up at the window keeping an eye on Park Row. On the wall is a tribute to Max, Ken’s first cat and a Sam Smith drawing of circus acrobats improbably balancing a lion and a tiger.

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These pieces are not necessarily the first ones you notice when visiting the collection because of their relatively small size. The discovery of a hedgehog or a seal amongst the studio pottery or on a side table always brings a smile. Brought out and displayed together the colour and energy of them is highlighted. Though some are toys and playful others are more reflective and sinister. Ian McKay’s wooden chicken stands proud but open the drawer in her side and it contains not eggs but a row of tiny trussed and roast birds. Other artists and designers featured include Bill Newland, Sid Burnard, Eric Ravilious, Peter Markey as well as a number of folk art pieces from around the world.

The show is open from Saturday 28 March to Wednesday 24 June 2015 – Wednesdays 10am – 4pm or by appointment. There is a fun activity sheet for children.

Click here for a pdf of the show poster Print one and stick it on your wall!

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Ken Stradling Collection aids Student Automaton Builder

The recent addition to the Ken Stradling Collection of a group of automata by Peter Markey as part of the Beales Bequest has provided it with a valuable resource for students wishing to explore the area. 3D Design students from the Foundation Diploma course at Bristol School of Art visited the collection recently as part of their studies and one in particular has made good use of the opportunity to see and handle these pieces.

Hanah Middlefinch’s Fortune Teller has given her a few headaches and the mechanism is a sophisticated use of wheels and pins that allows the figure both to nod her head and move her hands across the rune-stones on the table in front of her. She is built of wood, mdf, porcelain and textiles and operated manually by a handle at the side. The mechanism is allied to that used for the Kissing Couple piece in the collection although more complex. The drive shaft operates a crank to rock the head and two pinned wheels to drive the hands – one to the left and the other to the right.  A tricky bit of construction requiring a considerable degree of accuracy. The battery pack enables the candle to light to be lit.

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The Fortune Teller prepares to reveal her hand.

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The triple action operates the two hands and the head individually allowing one wheel l to push to the left and the other to the right.

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A cold gaze as the rune-stones are shown. What will they say?

The Fortune Teller can be seen in action on YouTube here

Mixed media automaton. Head and hands are made from ceramic, the runes are made from polymer clay. The candle was attached to the battery pack and lit up as the head moved up but the connection short circuited and I’ve yet to fix it! HM

We wish Hanah all the best with her studies and at University next year.

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Mystery Elephant Joins Collection

Amongst the collection of ceramics left to the Collection by Jennifer and Colin Beales is this delightful small porcelain elephant. It was bought from the 3D Gallery in Park Row as present for them by one of their grandchildren but we have not yet established who made it. Whoever it was was well practiced as a slab-builder, folding the shape from one thin piece of carefully cut clay. The soft texture of the clay and the matt buff/grey glaze work so well.

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If anyone recognises our elephant and can identify the maker we would be most grateful. We would love to know what else the potter made.

The Beales Bequest will be open to view every Wednesday 10 – 4pm and by appointment  until 11th March.

Go to the Collection website at www.stradlingcollection.org for more information about the Collection and for details of upcoming exhibitions and how to visit us in Bristol.

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Automata in ‘The Beales Bequest’ exhibition

'The Kissing Couple' by Peter Markey

‘The Kissing Couple’ by Peter Markey

The automata on display have very different subject matters, but each exudes a great sense of fun. They are both by Peter Markey. One is entitled ‘Kissing Couple’. We have not been able to find the title for the bold, beautiful runners.

‘Kissing Couple’, which is damaged and missing the base, dates from around 1999 and was probably bought from the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in Covent Garden for whom it was made. This highly unusual shop sells unique handmade automata, as well as kites, card cut-outs and videos. Their permanent exhibition space in Coven Garden sadly dissolved in 2000, but part of their collection is currently in an exhibition at the American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore.

Colin and Jennifer had a third automaton, called ‘The Rare Appearance of the Lesser Spotted Markey Bird’. They left this to The Ken Stradling Collection too. It is not currently on display because it came to the Collection in a broken state and has just been fixed.

‘The Rare Appearance of the Lesser Spotted Markey Bird’

‘The Rare Appearance of the Lesser Spotted Markey Bird’

Automata date back to the eighteenth century and are closely aligned to the mechanisms of clockwork. It was not uncommon for them to be life size. One of the most famous automata in this period was made by Vaucanson in France and was called ‘The Defecating Duck’. Many of Vaucanson’s automata were made with scientific and educational uses in mind. For example, his ‘Flute Player’ simulated a human being’s actions of playing a flute in order to reveal natural characteristics needed to control this instrument. In this way, these automata were designed to simulate human actions and to show a process that revealed itself over time.

By the mid nineteenth century, automata were often ‘quotations’ of the latest technology – for example, pistons and pullcords as opposed to clockwork – and were frequently associated with mass aesthetic entertainment. So their values and functions significantly changed; many were made with the aim of performing circus tricks and took the forms of clowns or animals.

The runners by Peter Markey

The runners by Peter Markey

The Beales Bequest is open to view every Wednesday 10 – 4pm and by appointment  until 11th March.

Go to the Collection website at www.stradlingcollection.org for more information about the Collection and for details of upcoming exhibitions and how to visit us in Bristol.

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Sam Smith’s work at The Beales Bequest exhibition

Sam Smith, Fishing Boat ‘S71’, wood with enamelling and mixed media, 1971, 20cm long. And Smith's book ‘The Secret Harbour’, Ernest Benn Limited, London and Tonbridge,  1975.

Sam Smith, Fishing Boat ‘S71’, wood with enamelling and mixed media, 1971, 20cm long. And Smith’s book ‘The Secret Harbour’, Ernest Benn Limited, London and Tonbridge, 1975.

There are many playful, colourful and humorous items on display in The Beales Bequest exhibition. This includes the pieces by Sam Smith. There is one of his fishing boats from the 1970s, made of wood and enamel-painted. Accompanying this is Smith’s book, The Secret Harbour, from 1975.

Sam Smith spent his childhood at the seaside town of Southampton. A painting of his was accepted into an exhibition at the Royal Academy when he was just 17 years old, but he became best known for his hand-carved painted wooden toys and sculpture. He was always drawn to performance and the theatrical in everyday life, which helped him to create an array of colourful characters that kept being repeated in his work.

His wooden fishing boats are both sculptures and toys for adults. Their designs started simply and became more complex and individual, with unusual characters that seem to offer stories and social insights.

Graham Stuart, Boat, wood with painting and mixed media, 19cm high

Graham Stuart, Boat, wood with painting and mixed media, 19cm high

Nautical themes and story telling are repeated throughout The Beales Bequest exhibition. Colin and Jennifer Beales also bequest their 2D wooden boat, with painting and mixed media, made by Victor Stuart Graham. Graham had a varied training in art, originally trained as a graphic designer followed by a postgraduate degree in textile design. His boats made of worn driftwood have been hugely popular and have been exhibited throughout the UK.

Additionally, the print entitled The Tower of London from the School Prints series, by Edwin La Dell 1947, is part of The Beales Bequest to The Ken Stradling Collection. La Dell was appointed as an official war artist during the Second World War.

Edwin La Dell, The Tower of London, from the School Prints series published by the Banyard Press, 1947, 49cm x 66cm

Edwin La Dell, The Tower of London, from the School Prints series published by the Banyard Press, 1947, 49cm x 66cm

The Beales Bequest will be open to view every Wednesday 10 – 4pm and by appointment  until 11th March.

Go to the Collection website at www.stradlingcollection.org for more information about the Collection and for details of upcoming exhibitions and how to visit us in Bristol.

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Bertoia’s Diamond Chair in ‘The Beales Bequest’ exhibition

Colin Beales sitting in The Diamond Chair

Colin Beales sitting in The Diamond Chair

Harry Bertoia, an Italian-American sculptor, university lecturer and furniture designer, created The Diamond Chair in 1952 for the firm Knoll International. It comprises of a series containing a small and large version of the chair, a chair with an raised back and a footstall, a child’s chair and a bar chair. The Knoll website refers to them as the ‘wire collection’, and this post illustrates the classic Diamond Chair, The Bird Chair and The Side Chair from this collection. The chairs are sculptural, sturdy and functional; they are surprisingly comfortable and supportive.

Most chairs in the mid twentieth century were made of wood, so it was relatively novel that a chair like Bertoia’s Diamond Chair was made with steel. This technique of using steel was familiar to Bertoia due to his experimental work as a sculptor. The fluid lines of the bent metal are pleasing to the eye and unusual in furniture design.

The chairs holds an interesting shape from all sides. Although wide, the spaces between the wires give it a quality of lightness and airiness, so it doesn’t seem to impose upon a space. This makes it an appropriate chair for a small or minimalist room.

Interior design by Colin Beales in Newberry & Spindler for Woman's Journal 1959

Interior design by Colin Beales in Newberry & Spindler for Woman’s Journal 1959

Interior design by Colin Beales in Newberry & Spindler for Woman's Journal 1959

Interior design by Colin Beales in Newberry & Spindler for Woman’s Journal 1959

A version of the Diamond Chair, The Bird Chair, appears in the images of a domestic interior designed and curated by architect Colin Beales and his first wife Ann for ‘Woman’s Journal’, 1959. This interior was on show at Newberry & Spindler, 43-45 Park Street, Bristol. It was an appropriate place to showcase the installation because ‘Woman’s Journal’ described Newberry & Spindler as having a “vigorous approach to modern home furnishing”. Some of the photographs that appeared in ‘Woman’s Journal’ are on display in The Beales Bequest exhibition, currently on show at The Ken Stradling Collection.

A Bertoia Side Chair appears in several of Jennifer’s Beales etchings of her and Colin’s garden. One of these etchings is on display at The Beales Bequest. Jennifer and Colin Beales had two of these chairs, which they used constantly. These chairs also seemed like iconic garden sculptures in their own right and were a defining feature of the Beales’s garden and home.

Jennifer Beales's etching of the Beales's garden

Jennifer Beales’s etching of the Beales’s garden

The Beales Bequest will be open to view every Wednesday 10 – 4pm and by appointment  until 11th March.

Go to the Collection website at www.stradlingcollection.org for more information about the Collection and for details of upcoming exhibitions and how to visit us in Bristol.

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Etchings in ‘The Beales Bequest’ exhibition

Etching of Brandon Hill, Bristol by Jennifer BealesDispersed among the beautiful array of objects in the current exhibition, The Beales Bequest, at The Ken Stradling Collection are clusters of Jennifer Beales’ own artworks. She made many oil paintings and etchings, particularly during the 1970s and 80s when she took printing classes at The Bristol School of Art. These illustrate domestic interiors, many of which were familiar or personal to Jennifer. There are also unusual views from windows and into art studios.

Most of the places depicted are in Bristol. Jennifer always had a little sketchbook in her bag to capture details around the city, as well as further afield. She loved travelling and her art reflects this; it often depicts picturesque Italian towns or countryside.

Oil painting of Tuscany by Jennifer Beales

Humour is another theme in Jennifer’s etchings, which is enhanced by their short and considered titles. For Jennifer, art was a creative way of socialising and having fun, as well as understanding the world around her and recording special moments. Some of the works that particularly stand out as being humorous are those illustrating cameos within art exhibitions. We eagerly stare at the etched figures that in turn thoughtfully consider Impressionist paintings within the frame of the print. This suggests a playful exploration of what it is to look at art and to be aware that we are its viewer.

Etchings by Jennifer Beales Etchings by Jennifer Beales

Jennifer was part of the Clifton Arts Club for many years and often exhibited in their annual exhibition. She won the prize for the public’s favourite painting at the Clifton Art Show in 2012 with a small oil painting in subtle, muted tones that depicted a girl at a window in the style of Gwen John. Jennifer also won a prize at the RWA for the best print in one of their Open Exhibitions, as well as another for the best painting in the RWA Friends Exhibition.

Print, watercolour and oil painting by Jennifer Beales on display at The Ken Stradling Collection

The Beales Bequest will be open to view every Wednesday 10 – 4pm and by appointment  until 11th March.

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The opening of The Beales Bequest exhibition

Dan Arbeid, Vase, stoneware with oatmeal glaze

Dan Arbeid, Vase, stoneware with oatmeal glaze

On Saturday 10 January, The Ken Stradling Collection will be holding a private view of their latest exhibition, The Beales Bequest. This exhibition revolves around the eclectic objects that a Bristol architect and founding trustee of The Ken Stradling Collection left with his artist wife to the Collection when they died last year.

Colin and Jennifer Beales were great friends with Ken Stradling. Colin often drove around Bristol with Ken, and they travelled together to parts of Europe, to view or purchase furniture, ceramics and art. He in particular had a long association with The Bristol Guild. Jennifer also made significant contributions, such as formulating the title of the Collection’s catalogue, “The Incidental Collector”, which Colin helped to write and edit.

On display in the exhibition there will be a great variety of ceramics by many important British makers from the 20th and 21st centuries. Think Dan Arbeid (who The Guardian has described as “one of the pioneers of unconventional vessel-based handbuilt forms”), Mick Casson, Stig Lindberg and Herbert Krenchel.

There will also be bold and often humorous pieces of glasswork and sculpture, as well photographs of Colin’s main architectural projects and some of the Beales’ own art – pottery, etchings and paintings – exhibited too.

Look out for blog posts about individual objects in this exhibition coming soon.

The Beales Bequest will be open to view every Wednesday 10 – 4pm and by appointment  until 11th March.

Go to the Collection website at www.stradlingcollection.org for more information about the Collection and for details of upcoming exhibitions and how to visit us in Bristol.

Pieces by Stig Lindberg, Erik Hoglund and Herbert Krenchel

Pieces by Stig Lindberg, Erik Hoglund and Herbert Krenchel

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