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MUSEUM HIGHLIGHTS

museam

Welcome to "Museum Highlights", a project which is being undertaken in collaboration between the Reading Museum and the RGA.

The Reading Museum has a wealth of RGA members' work in their collections. The association between the two go back to the foundation of the RGA in 1930. However, with limited room, not everything can be on display. With kind permission from the Museum, we here take the opportunity to showcase those works exhibited by our members and celebrate the RGA's rich heritage and wonderful art. Eventually, all the works will be available as a new topic within the Museum's Online Collections.

Research is taken from "A History of the Reading Guild of Artists – 1930-1980" by EV Watson, RGA Annual Exhibition catalogues and the RGA Archives held at The Berkshire Record Office. Many thanks go to local historian Sidney Gold for his invaluable research compiled on behalf of the Reading Museum collections. The RGA is sensitive to any artists copyright in the use of these images, and have endeavoured to report accurately. If you have any further information or queries about any of these works or artists, please contact Martina at webmaster@rga-artists.org.uk

Many thanks go to the support of Elaine Blake and the team (past and present) at the Reading Museum.

Book cover of Reg Ford's Autobiographical work 'Record of a Pilgrimage' published in 1936.

 

High Bridge

by Reginald W. Ford (1909- 1973)

Pen and ink drawing

20 x 14cm

Date 1933

1930 - 1956

Reading Museum Accession Number
REDMG : 1934.6.1 (original drawing)

 

High Bridge 2018

This drawing from the early 1930s is of a still very recognisable High Bridge (often called Duke Street Bridge). High Bridge (a grade II listed building) crosses the River Kennet in Reading town centre and is apparently the oldest surviving bridge that crosses the river. This drawing was exhibited in the Reading Guild of Artists Fourth Exhibition, November 1st to 30th 1933, Reading Art Gallery.

The artist used this drawing as the frontispiece in his Autobiographical work 'Record of a Pilgrimage' published in 1936.

Born in Reading 1909, Reginald, who suffered from muscular dystrophy from the age of 11, studied art at the Reading University under Professors Seaby and Pearce. He also studied lithography with the Berkshire Printing Company before becoming a freelance commercial artist. He was possibly one of the youngest members of the Reading Guild of Artists, being 21 when he first exhibited in our founding year 1930.

On Friday 11th May, 1973 the Reading Chronicle reports on the death of one of Reading's best-known artists, Reginald W. Ford. Among his more famous works was a balsawood scale-model of the Reading Abbey and its surrounds as he thought it existed in its prime.

 

 

Molly in the Pantry

by Mark Symonds (1887 - 1935)

Oil on Canvas

68 x 75cm

Date: about 1932

RGA member: 1930 - 1935

Reading Museum Accession Number
REDMG : 1933.14.1

Sketch by Mark Symons
of his pupil Joan Willis, 1926.

 

Many thanks to our Chairman and Joan’s son Anthony for sharing this delightful sketch and family story with us.

 

Joining in the Guild's very first year, one of the then more widely known artists was Mark Symons, who at the time was seen as a controversial artist whose modern treatment of religious subjects was attracting the attention of the RA and elsewhere. His works were often ambitious in size.

One of these works The Last Supper is currently on display in the Sir John Madejski Art Gallery, Reading Museum as part of the Patrons and Donors: Reading's Art And How it Got Here... on until 12th Jan 2019.

As well as religious subject matter, Mark Symons included his adopted daughters in a series of paintings of more domestic settings. Molly in the Pantry was exhibited at the Reading Guild of Artists Third Exhibition, 1932, Reading Art Gallery. Such a domestic scene is described to us by the recollections of a later RGA member Joan Wilder, who had lessons with Mark Symons when she was a child. 'He used to bring plants, dock leaves etc., for me to draw and never minded when I added fairies and other imaginary creatures. I was delighted to discover that he seemed to believe in fairies too, and could draw them much better than I could!'

At one of these lessons Joan brought along her autograph book and asked if he could sign it. Continuing with the lesson as usual, Mark handed back the little book at the end without a word, and Joan was disappointed as she thought he hadn't signed it. Later however, she found not only had he signed it but had also sketched the young artist at work, adding the caption “Why won’t this picture come right?”, eluding perhaps to the deep concentration of his pupil, although the caption did annoy Joan at the time, as she thought it was going quite well.

'Later on, I was invited to tea with him and his family – he was living at that time, I think, in Caversham. There was a baby in a high-chair. I suppose it must have been Molly. Mark cut the loaf at the tea table. In those more formal days, I had never seen this done before...'. As well as the preparatory study for Molly in the Pantry, and Baby Anns Breakfast (another daughter in the very same high-chair?) the Reading Museum have in their collection a whole series of Mark Symons sketches.

At the Guild's Council meeting 9th February 1935 they regretfully received Mark Symons decision to resign owing to ill health. He died two days later at the early age of 48. Joan Wilder said 'I remember seeing the Memorial Exhibition of 1936 and realising all over again what an exquisite draughtsman Mark was.'

 

 

Convergences XXI

by Tom Cartmill

Pencil on gesso on board

50 x 50 x 3cm

Date: 2005

RGA member: 2009 - present

Reading Museum Accession Number
REDMG : 2008.847.1


Not all the Museum Highlights are by past members. This work is an example of one of our current members' work. Tom Carmill’s Convergences XXI, which was acquired for the Museum by the Reading Foundation for Art, is currently on display in the Sir John Madejski Art Gallery, Reading Museum as part of the Patrons and Donors: Reading's Art And How it Got Here... This exhibition demonstrates the many ways the Museum has acquired its impressive and wide-ranging collection of art throughout its history.

Convergences XXI is a pencil drawing on gesso board (a mixture of plaster of Paris and glue) and was made at a time when Tom Cartmill was exploring overlapping ideas about geological time and archaeology, the changing movements and textures found in nature and the layering of his memories. The drawing is a network of converging pencil lines. The work also explores an interest in visual perception that has underpinned his practice from early on. This work dates before Tom became a member of the Reading Guild of Artists in 2009.

Reading based artist Tom Cartmill has spent much of his adult life overseas. He returned to the UK in 2003, settling first in Mortimer, where he had the beautiful Victorian-brick Old Fire Station as a studio for almost a decade. He is currently based in central Reading, with a medieval barn for a studio at Amners Farm, Burghfield.

Tom Cartmill's long stints living in New Zealand, Spain and Italy and travels through Asia, in particular, have greatly informed his work and his years spent in Sicily and Spain, where he became interested in the Moorish heritage, have been particularly influential on his practice. He has exhibited widely, both in the UK and overseas and has exhibited regularly at the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, and at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

 

Old Cottages

 

Old Cottages, Caversham

by Faith Ashford (1884 - 1967)

Oil on Canvas

27 x 38cm

Date: 1939

RGA member: 1930 - 1944

Reading Museum Accession Number
REDMG : 1949.129.1

 

This is possibly the view from the artist's home in Matlock Road off Woodcote Road near the junction with St Peter's Hill.

Faith Ashford (1884-1967) was a founder member and regular exhibitor of the Reading Guild of Artists until she moved away to Newcastle around the mid 1940s. In 1911 she worked as a 'Kindergarten Assistant Schoolmistress' in New Earswick village, Yorkshire (a garden village established in 1902 by Joseph Rowntree), boarding with 'Kindergarten Schoolmistress' Annie Pritchard. By 1930 they lived in Matlock Road, Caversham Heights, where 'Miss Ashford was a lecturer at the Reading University School of Art, and Miss Pritchard ran a school for the mentally disabled.' The artist and fellow Guild member Mark Symons was a frequent visitor to their home.

Faith Ashford mainly exhibited oil paintings, including Portrait of Anne Pritchard in 1936, but also exhibited weaving. She 'had a weaving loom on which she wove the material for their clothes, it was, by local standards an unusual household' says a young neighbour of the time and future member of the RGA Joan Wilder.

The grave inscriptions records of the Mevagissey Old Cemetery show us that Faith Ashford died June 24th 1967 and is buried with her life long companion Anne Pritchard 1876 – 1955.

 

Bargain Hunters

by A. Duncan Carse (1875-1938)

Tempera on Canvas

128 x 87cm

Date: about 1933

RGA member: 1931-1938

(Vice-President 1937-38)

Reading Museum Accession Number
REDMG : 1939.37.1


A. Duncan Carse (Andreas) was a notable figure and decorative painter of the early 20th century. Bargain Hunters was exhibited at the Reading Guild of Artists Fourth Exhibition, Reading Art Gallery, 1933 November 1st to 30th. A. Duncan Carse often worked on a large scale in great detail using Tempera.

We have this description of his work Mannequins exhibited at the RGA Annual Exhibition in 1935; a picture of 'epic proportions... in which the Mannequins themselves – flaunting the latest 'creations' of early 1930s – were something like a hundred figures, all treated with a faultless sense of perspective, seated at the tables or standing at the back of the crowded restaurant. It is a measure of his skill that he brought it off so well.'

A. Duncan Carse joined the RGA in 1931, serving on its Council 1934-35, and was made Vice-President in 1937. With his death late in 1938 the RGA was 'robbed of one of its outstanding exhibitors but also of its Vice-President'.

 

Head Carved in Limestone

by Albert C. Carter (1894 - 1958)

Carved Limestone

42 x 21 x 18cm

Date: 1957

RGA member: 1930 – 1958

(Vice-President 1933 – 34
President 1934 - 58 died in office)

Reading Museum Accession Number
REDMG : 1957.62.1

 

Museum Tour:

The Lilies for Oscar Wilde are now on display at the Reading Museum. Why not combine your visit with which includes our current Museum Highlight Head Carved in Limestone by Albert C Carter.

This work was simply called Head Carved in Limestone in the catalogue of the Reading Guild of Artists Twenty-Seventh Annual Exhibition, Municipal Art Gallery Reading May 4 – June 1, 1957.

One of the most long-standing Presidents of the Reading Guild of Artists was sculptor Albert Clarence Carter, in a time when the position was not limited to 5 years. A member of the RGA Council from the very first year, he became President in 1934, a position he held until his death in 1958. 'A formidable man, whose influence was to be both powerful and sustained'. Born in Lambeth, Albert was the second son of a carpenter, and at 19 was an apprentice metal engraver. He would exhibit metalwork as well as sculptures and the occasional oil painting at the RGA Annual Exhibitions. His sculptures, mainly portraits and figures, were worked in stone, marble and wood. He'd studied at Lambeth and Central Schools of Art.

In 1933 he gave an illustrated lecture 'The Meaning of Sculpture', which he begun by saying that he 'found it very difficult to reconcile so-called modern sculpture with his ideals'. Extolling the virtues of the classical approach he pointed out that 'in great historic periods the best work had been produced by civilisation that was approaching its ideal'. He was a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors.

 

Demolision, Hosier Street

 

Demolition, Hosier Street, Reading

by Leslie E. Windsor (1905 -1991)

Collage and Watercolour

70 x 57cm

Date: 1959

RGA member: 1932 - 1989

(Served on RGA Council 1951-1957)

Reading Museum Accession Number

REDMG : 1959.176.1

Leslie Ernest Windsor was one of the Reading Guild of Artists longest serving members joining in September 1932 on the strength of his woodwork, his first exhibit being a 'Radio-Gramaphone Cabinet'. He later went onto exhibiting watercolours. He served on the RGA Council 1951-1957 and continued to exhibit with his watercolours, many of local buildings and scenes, until 1989. Demolition, Hosier Street, Reading was exhibited at the Reading Guild of Artists 29th Annual Exhibition, May 2 – May 30 1959 at The Municipal Art Gallery, Reading, catalogue number 83 for 12 Guineas.

We are lucky to have Leslie Windsor's own recollections of this work: 'Walking along Hosier Street towards the town I noticed a street called 'Hope Street'. Most of the buildings in the vicinity had gone. Very old houses towards the end of Hosier Street on the left, with overhanging top rooms, were well on the way to disappearing forever. Making some quick notes I decided to come along the following day, a Sunday, and do more details, especially in colour. It seemed such a wonderful subject, especially as the 'Hope Street' sign was still in position, signifying the hope for a happy future for the area. The picture I made was a fairly large watercolour, with certain features emphasized with collage'

Part of Hosier Street still exists, but now looks very different. Running off St. Mary's Butts opposite Minster Church of St Mary the Virgin, part of this demolition site eventually became the Butts Shopping centre (now Broad Street Mall) a decade later. Hope Street was approximately where Queens Walk is today.

Wet Day Visitor

 

Wet Day Visitor

by Dr Francis A. Brodribb (1880-1962)

Oil
44 x 33.5 cm

Date: about 1943

RGA member: 1930 - 1962

(Served on RGA Council 1946-47)

Reading Museum Accession Number

REDMG : 1957.44.1

Francis Brodribb was probably best remembered and admired for his still life paintings in 'masterly 3-D realism'. Fellow RGA member Leslie Windsor said on visiting Brodribb at his home in Bucklebury, 'I was particularly interested in his studio where he was doing one of his attractive still life arrangements of flowers, berries, leaves and grasses. He told me that when he retired he became the oldest student at Reading University Art Department.'

Dr. Francis Arthur Brodribb MRCS LRCP, and his wife, Gladys Minola Brodribb were members of the Reading Guild of Artists since its foundation in 1930 and were described as 'pillars' of the Guild. Both were artists of note who had exhibited at leading national galleries. William Wilder (another fellow member) recollected in 1980 that Dr Brodribb's distinctive still life paintings would be remembered by older members. 'He liked to be among young people and joined the art classes at the University. I remember he was alarmed at some students eating an apple whilst using lead white paint 'highly poisonous and dangerous', he declared!'

In the catalogue of 1963 it states 'The Guild regret the loss of one of its original members and well-known artists Dr. F. A. Brodribb of the Cottage, Bucklebury, who died on 3rd August, 1962.' He exhibited every year from 1930 to 1962.

 

Work by Julia Forrester

 

Near Eastington, Gloucester

by Julia Forrester

Oil

59 x 50cm

Date: about 1953

RGA member: 1944 - 1980
(RGA Councillor 1949-53,
RGA Secretary 1955-1968)

Reading Museum Accession Number
REDMG : 1953.48.1

Near Eastington, Gloucester by Julia Forrester was exhibited at the Reading Guild of Artists 23rd Annual Exhibition at the Municipal Art Gallery Reading, May 2nd - May 30th 1953. Julia Forrester was a member of the RGA from 1944 until her death in 1984 at the age of 89. She served the RGA Council from 1949 and in 1955 became the Guild's Secretary for the next 14 years. During this time she was heavily involved with expanding the RGA's horizons with her initiative and drive. She was a great advocate of the new Associate members, and was the instigator and organiser of group art classes know as the 'Carnegie Classes' which were held both in and outdoors, with often over 40 'students' in attendance.

Julia worked in oils with her subject matter including flowers studies, still life and landscapes. One of her works Cyclamen was described to show the influence of Cézanne, an influence that can perhaps also be seen here too.

Julia Forrester later married Noel Gallagher, who became, along with Julia's daughter, one of the first Non-practising members of the RGA in 1962, having been the Guild's auditor since the mid 1950s, a roll he continued to do until 1977.

 

Work by Gilbert Adams

 

 

The Cotswolds from Park Leys

by Gilbert Adams (1906-1996)

Oil on canvas

42 x 33cm

Date: 1958

RGA member: 1934-1996 (Life member 1984)

Reading Museum Accession Number REDMG:1958.24.1

Acquisition method: Purchased by Reading Borough Council

 

This work was exhibited at the RGA 28th Annual Exhibition at the Museum and Art Gallery Reading 3rd May - 31st May 1958. Gilbert Adams was a long-standing and active member of the RGA from the very early days and exhibiting right up to and including 1995, the year before his death. Gilbert was part of a family of artists and photographers based in Reading. Son of Marcus Adams (internationally famous children’s photographer and artist), who was the son of Walton Adams (photographer and inventor). Marcus and his brother Christopher were also members of the RGA. Gilbert's wife Thelma Mason was also an artist and a member of the RGA.

Gilbert Adams served on the RGA Council several times over many years, chairing a social committee and even supporting RGA activities by lending his studio at 22 Market Place for drawing and painting from a model: "Being young and quite dedicated to the Guild by the time War broke out in 1939, I recollect the sense of and urgent need to keep the RGA going". He won the Marie Dyson Award in 1970 and 1987.

He wrote in 1980 on reflections about the early days of the RGA "It seemed a happy group imbued with a great desire to raise the standards of work both in its part-time and in its professional members". Words that still reflect the RGA today!


Work by Annie Bradley


 

 

A Pupil of Green Girls' School, Reading

By Annie Margaret Bradley (1863–1941)

Oil on canvas

75.5 x 86cm

Date: 1898

RGA member: 1930-1941

Reading Museum Accession Number
REDMG : 1946.94.1

Photograph: The Reading Guild of Artists

Photograph: The Reading Guild of Artists exhibition opened at Reading Art Gallery (Museum) on Blagrave Street in Reading.

In attendance were L - R: Mr Albert C. Carter (President of the RGA) , Mrs A.T. Lloyd (Patron of the RGA), Mayor McIlroy and Miss Annie M. Bradley (Vice-President of the RGA)

This photograph was published in the Berkshire Chronicle on 12 April 1940.

Museum object number REDMG : 1980.36.A371.3

 

The painter of this work, Annie Bradley, exhibited at the very first RGA Annual Exhibition at the Municipal Art Gallery, Reading Museum, 1930. She served continuously on the RGA Council for the first eight years of the Guild's existence, was vice-president from 1939-1941, and at whose house Council Meetings were regularly held. She was a "competent and sound painter" in both oils and watercolour, many of which were portraits.

In 1935 two works were listed in the catalogue of the Annual Exhibition about which was reported in the Evening Gazette Nov 12th 1935: "Another outstanding picture among the oils is Green Girl in St Mary's Church Reading by Miss Annie M Bradley, also of Reading. I do not understand the title as perhaps I ought but I admire tremendously the calm lovely grace and rich parchment tone of the drapings. The picture has a companion Reading's Green Girl at Work and here again a lovely figure set in lovely shades".

Annie Bradley was an Art Teacher with perhaps some connection with the "The Green Girls' School?"

"At a Council Meeting held in September 1941 we read, sadly, of a posthumous vote of thanks 'to the late Miss Bradley, their host for so long … She had been in the thick of things right from the beginning.'"

In the RGA Annual Exhibition 1942 it states: catalogue number 22, Annie Bradley (The Late), The Green Girl, oil painting, no price. Probably hung in commemoration of her service to the RGA.

 

Work by Reginald Smith

 

 

Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

by Reginald Smith

Oil on canvas

78 x 58cm

Date: 1965

RGA member: 1966-1979

Reading Museum Accession Number
REDMG :1966.67.1

Acquisition method: Purchased by Reading Borough Council

 

 

Our first choice links well with our 87th Annual Exhibition "Hooray Henley!" and celebrates our close links with Henley-on-Thames. This work was exhibited at the RGA 36th Annual Exhibition at the Museum and Art Gallery Reading 7th May-28th May 1966.

This was the first year Reginald Smith exhibited with the RGA so we can only imagine his feelings of having one of his works bought by the Museum for their collection. A landscape painter Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire was one of 4 works he exhibited in this year, two oils and two watercolours, the others all being scenes of Kettlewell in Yorkshire.

Reg Smith was a professional artist and notable exhibitor in the 1970s. He served on the RGA Council for several years, seemingly greatly involved with the RGA's social activities, as well a designing covers for two of the Exhibition catalogues.

He exhibited for the last time in 1979, when it was later reported “the very sudden and totally unexpected passing of one of [our] most active and best loved practitioners”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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