Sidney Sime Memorial Gallery in Worplesdon, Surrey, UK

A Wild Creature Stalking the Woods by Sidney Simes

A Wild Creature Stalking The Woods by Sidney Sime

This gem of a gallery existed on my doorstep without my ever hearing about, or seeing it even, despite being just off a busy main road that I use often. The gallery has been there since 1956, opened with proceeds from the sale of Simes’ home in Worplesdon on the death of his widow in 1949. There are approximately 500 catalogued pictures of which 86 are hung and on permanent display. The rest are in cabinets and folders.

We went there recently with a group from Guildford Museum, which was, I have to say, a most enlightening visit.

To say something about the man. Sidney Sime was born in Manchester in 1867. As soon as he was old enough he went to work in the pits and for five years pushed “scoops” of coal along rails through tunnels about 75 centimetres high.

He used to scratch little drawings on the walls even then and find odd moments for making sketches

After a succession of jobs including sign-writing which he became successful at, he eventually joined the Liverpool School of Art, part of a network of art colleges stretching down to South Kensington.

His studies complete , he contributed drawings to many well-known magazines, eventually purchasing and editing a magazine himself. Called the Idler, there are copies in the gallery.

He married in 1898. Following a bequest from an uncle in Scotland, the couple settled in Perthshire, where he painted many Scottish landscapes. They felt isolated in Scotland and moved to Worplesdon in Surrey which was accessible to his London studio.

He began to specialise in caricature, drawing local characters in the pub, viewing them in the mirror behind the bar. Many of his most enthusiastic supporters were among the wealthy, and they gave him the stimulus to produce some of his finest pictures. In 1896 he gained membership of the Royal Society of British Artists.

After the Great War, came a prolific period, when he produced much of his visionary work, especially from the Book of Revelation. He staged a well-received exhibition at St.George’s gallery in London in 1924, and another less so in 1927.

Later he was to drift into obscurity, painting for his own pleasure until his death in 1941.

There will be a major exhibition of his work in Woking’s  Lightbox Gallery from 15th April to 28th May 2017

 

Henry Moore Exhibition at The Lightbox in Woking

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The centrepiece of the current Henry Moore exhibition which we went to see recently.

The Reclining Figure in Elmwood.

If you have worked in elmwood, you will know it is notoriously  difficult to get a smooth finish. The grain is very knobbly for want of a better word, and resists efforts to sand it to a smooth finish. This piece is like satin and invites you to touch, which you mustn’t do, of course

Moore sculpts for the landscape with his monumental works, and developed in his pieces the “far-seeing gaze”, so that they could look out over long distances. With the space restriction at the Lightbox , this exhibition quite rightly concentrates on Moore’s drawings and smaller pieces, which sometimes don’t get the exposure that they deserve. Here we see the natural shapes and found objects that influenced the sculptor throughout his career, which in turn influenced his finished sculptures

The holes and negative spaces were intended to stimulate rhythm, tension, force and vitality. He was driven by this idea of the outer layer giving protection to the inner shape within.  His interest extended to helmets, armour and shells which also protect the interior.

A frequent theme is the mother and child image, which explores this idea. The big protecting the small. His Madonna and Child sculptures reflect Moore’s fascination with the interdependence felt between mother and child.  He was drawn to how things naturally fit together within the balance of nature, and of course he was not the first to notice that.

He was also influenced by the solidity of  ancient Greek statues which he sketched in the British Museum. He sought to reflect the weight of the stone through the strength of his mother figures.

The exhibition lasts until 7th May. Although not a large space, nevertheless because of the accent on his drawings and maquettes, there is much to study. Too much, perhaps, for my level of concentration, I intend to go at least one more time before the closing date to carry on where I left off.mother-and-child

Exhibition in Woking Lightbox: The Camden Town Group

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This painting is by Robert Bevan 1865-1925, one of the the Camden Art School, painting as the name suggests in North London during the Edwardian period

This painting is entitled Dunns Cottage and was painted in Devon, although Bevan was just as at home painting in London, usually horse fairs and horse drawn vehicles. Bevan studied in Brittany in Pont Aven painting alongside Gauguin, and the influence on this painting is plain to see, large blocks of flat colour and unrealistic shades

Other artists represented at this exhibition are Walter Sickert, sometimes known as the father of them all, Spencer Gore and Ginner

Rather like the French Impressionists a few decades before, the Camden group painted contemporary scenes of city life, the streets, theatres, places of entertainment like pubs and circuses. Sickert portrayed young women in the nude at their toilette rather in the style of Degas, who was a great influence. Non erotic portraits of women in dingy surroundings were something he often came back to, as though the flatness of their life was something which fascinated him.

Preparatory drawings of the figures for his famous painting Ennui are also there, a study of tedium and of people trapped in their lives

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The Balcony, Mornington Crescent  by Spencer Gore (1878-1914)

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The Circus by Charles Ginner (1878-1952)

Ginner was born in Cannes of a British father who established the Pharmacie Ginner. His brother was a doctor on the Riviera . Ginner himself studied art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and was influenced by the French art of the day. The circus was a favourite subject, and this picture can be compared by one of Seurat, which is in the Kroller Muller Museum in Holland

Ginner moved to London and became an influential member of the Camden group

The quality of exhibitions at the Lightbox continues to improve, and well worth a visit if you are in striking distance. The other exhibition one floor below, on the History of the Comic, extremely informative and comprehensive for those interested in graphic art

H.G.Wells at the Lightbox

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Neville Godwin’s Winning Artwork

This year celebrates 150 years since the birth of Wells. He made Woking famous or infamous with his great work War of the Worlds, siting the landing of the Martians on nearby Horsell Common.

The Borough Council and its partners have launched the “Wells in Woking” cultural event programme

One of the first such events is an art exhibition in the Lightbox Gallery inspired by War of the Worlds, which runs now until May 1st. I went today, and there are some extremely imaginative entries by well-known local artists. The winning artwork I publish with this article. If you are local, this exhibition is worth seeing

He came to Woking in 1895, after the end of his first marriage, with student Amy Catherine Robbins, otherwise known as ‘Jane’. They married in the October of that year and lived happily at 141 Maybury Road, although the house was called Lynton at the time.

Wells lived in Woking for less than 18 months and yet it was his most productive time as an author. He worked at a prodigious rate to establish himself as a writer, which he did, as by the time he left, he was in his own words “fairly launched at last”

He wrote the Time Machine fairly soon after his arrival, his first science fiction work. He planned and wrote War of the Worlds, and sited the action in and around Woking, a most unlikely place for an extra-terrestrial invasion.

He followed up with the Invisible Man, completed the Island of Dr.Moreau, wrote and published both The Wonderful Visit and a pioneering cycling novel called The Wheels of Chance. He began writing When the Sleeper Wakes, another science fiction story, and started on Love and Lewisham. He worked in his own words at “a ghastly pace” in order to make his fortune

Reportedly, his literary earnings in 1896 were £1056, or £118,000 in today’s money

Later that summer, the couple moved to Worcester Park, and the story leaves Woking. He went on to international acclaim, meeting statesmen like both Presidents Roosevelt, Lenin and Stalin.

Later, there are talks at the Lightbox and two guided walks by historian Iain Wakeford, culminating in an International Conference in July at the H.G.Wells Conference and Events Centre in Woking