In March Christopher and I were able to return to Compton Verney. Our previous visit last Autumn was to view The Lost Words exhibition and hear Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane in conversation. It was a charming evening and a great insight to hear Robert's side of the story behind his collaboration with Jackie having followed closely the book's journey into being via our friendship with Jackie. Christopher had also played a role in contributing to the exhibition as he was commissioned to install a Lost Words Storywalk within the gallery grounds, essentially re-wilding the words from the pages of the book and gallery walls.
This time we were delighted to be able to attend the opening night for not only the rehang of the British Folk Art Collection but also Ravilious & Co. This in-depth touring exhibition includes over 500 exhibits and has been considerately curated by Andy Friend, author of Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship, which was published following a decade of intensive research and planning. Copies of the book are of course available from our selection at Number Seven.
Resident curator Annelise Howne invited artist Mark Hearld to 're-imagine' and re-display Compton Verney's extensive Folk Art collection. This must have been a complete joy for he too is an avid collector and his distinctive work echoes and honours this strong artistic tradition. Hearld has also created contemporary works to sit alongside the acquisitions and his dramatic wallpaper, printed by St Jude's, is based on one of my personal favourite pieces, the wooden pub sign adorned with a larger than life gilded swan.
The image above depicts the original illustrated first page of the hand-crafted leather-bound book that Mark commissioned to collect visitor feedback; beautifully conceived one hopes that it can only inspire the most positive and imaginative comments.
Annelise brought Christopher on board to utilise his unique Storywalks tech once more, this time within the gallery. Once installed the 'hidden' trail of key words will reveal behind the scenes snippets regarding Mark Hearld's inspiration and decision making process when re-collating the collection.
Christopher also interviewed Sally Kalman, daughter of Andreas Kalman, the collection's original maverick. She has childhood memories of paintings and artifacts being displayed in the family home and the trail will reveal her personal anecdotes connected with the curiosities on display.
It was an absolute delight to view the exhibitions and attend the private view, I would highly recommend a visit. The Ravilious exhibition is on until the 10th June and the forthcoming summer exhibition, The Marvellous Mechanical Museum, sounds like a must see.
On the drive home we took a detour via Hereford and called into see The Garden of Earthly Delights, curated by Tamsin Abbott at Blue-Ginger. Tamsin had invited artists to create works in response to the Hieronymus Bosch painting of the same name or simply by the title itself. The exhibition showcased a diverse range of crafts and highlighted the skills of contemporary makers. It was a pleasure to catch up with Tamsin and finally meet Sue Lim, owner of the gallery, as both of us have hosted regular events with Jackie Morris.
It was an inspiring trip and we only just got home in time before the snow sculpted deep drifts across the moor for a second time this spring.
Image Credits: Christopher Jelley