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On Tour

art, tour, modern, collection, swindon, 2020In 2019, Swindon Borough Council made a commitment to share Swindon’s remarkable collection of Modern British Art through funding two new outreach posts, and launching two temporary exhibitions in the town. Art on Tour was born.

With over 600 artworks, including three Turner Prize winners, the Swindon Collection of Modern British Art is acknowledged to be one of the most nationally significant outside London. The Collection covers 140 years of modern art, and includes household names like L.S Lowry, Lucian Freud, Grayson Perry, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Michael Craig-Martin, Howard Hodgkin, Frank Auerbach, and Richard Long. It features work from most major movements and schools in Modern British Art, as well as an extensive collection of work by home-grown Swindon artists like Desmond Morris.

Pieces from the Collection can be seen across Swindon and the UK. In Swindon, they feature at the Railway Cottage Museum, STEAM Museum, Swindon Borough Council Civic Offices, and the Richard Jefferies Museum. The museum has also loaned works of art to numerous museums and galleries including the Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, the Barbican, Pallant House, Dulwich Picture Gallery, York Art Gallery, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and Institut Valencià d'Art Modern.

In Autumn 2019, the Art on Tour project widened this coverage across Swindon, launching two new exhibitions at STEAM: Museum of the Great Western Railway and at the Swindon Borough Council Civic Offices.

The displays at STEAM bring together depictions of Swindon and its surrounding countryside from the 19th and early 20th century, showing the impact of the GWR on the area. The works have been integrated into the museum displays, adding an extra level of interest for visitors to STEAM. An additional display of lithographs by Swindon artist Hubert Cook is located in STEAM’s meeting room area. These prints show life in the GWR Works in the 1940s. There are regular public tours planned for 2020.

Following the opening of the Art on Tour displays at STEAM, Cllr Dale Heenan said: “I think it is fantastic that the first pop-up art exhibition is now officially open in the STEAM Museum, and it is themed for the venue. My thanks to the team who have put a lot of thought and effort into organising this project. I look forward to residents seeing Swindon’s art in more locations around the town.”

At the Civic Offices, an exhibition of 18 paintings and collages showcase the quality and variety of the Swindon Collection. This display includes important early 20th century paintings by Roger Fry, Sylvia Gosse and Kyffin Williams. The exhibition also features artists with a strong association to Swindon, including Harold Dearden, David Bent and Desmond Morris.

Katie Ackrill, Art on Tour Project Engagement Officer, and Mags Parker, Art on Tour Learning Officer, have been in post since January 2020, working to continue this progress of bringing more of Swindon’s art to more people in more places.

For more information on Art on Tour Learning and Engagement Programmes, click here.