Salford Museum & Art Gallery. 30th June, 2018 to 24th February, 2019
Royal Academicians from
Edited by Amy Goodwin
Salford Museum & Art Gallery. 71 pages. £5. ISBN 978-1-910759-44-8
Reviewed by Charles Ashleigh
This year makes the 250th anniversary of the founding of
The exhibitions at Salford Museum & Art Gallery and Ordsall Hall are
good examples of what can be done with a little imagination. They
aren’t large shows, and in
There are works by Sickert, David Hockney, and some of Elisabeth Frink’s distinctive sculptures. An attractive Eileen Agar canvas stands out. She was associated with the surrealists, but her “Room with a View of the Moon” didn’t strike me as surrealistic in any strict sense of the word. It has too much of the real in it to fit that description. It’s a lively painting to look at no matter the label attached to it.
John Nash’s “Timber” is attractive and it’s easy to see why he was a
successful book-illustrator. Another coastal setting can be observed
in Charles Napier Hemy’s “St Ives Harbour,
It’s true that there are paintings that seem to me dull and perhaps produced to order. Portraits often strike me in that way, and John Mcallan Swan’s “Alexander Constantine Ionides” doesn’t seem to have any character about it. Ionides was an art patron and collector, which may be the still-interesting aspect of the work. I’m not suggesting that the portrait is less than competent in terms of technique, but good art ought to go beyond the merely competent. The same might be said of the portrait of Mrs Ionides, also by Swan. Arnold Mason’s “Miss Cole” is much more provocative as a portrait. The lady in question does appear to come across as an individual.
It’s inevitable that any art collection delving back into the 19th
century will have historical paintings, or those based on legends
and the like. Philip Hermogenes Calderon’s “The Queen of the
Tournament”, Charles Landseer’s “Aesop Composing His Fables”, and
George Frederick Watts’ “Meeting of Esau and Jacob”, are no doubt of
interest to art historians. They show what impressed the
No-one will claim that most of the paintings on display are major works of art. They’re not, and one or two suggested to me a failure of the imagination when they were acquired. Sheila Fell’s “Houses Near Aspatria” looks bland and colourless. Perhaps it was meant to be that way, but if so it hardly makes for attractive art. I’m still trying to work out what was thought so interesting about this painting that the gallery considered it worth displaying.
It was good to come across a Peter Coker on the walls. He tends to be overlooked these days, and was at one time associated with the so-called “Kitchen Sink” school of artists (John Bratby, Derrick Greaves, Jack Smith,etc.) of the 1950s. And have a look at Roland Vivian Pitchforth’s “The Chess Players”, which seems to have nothing to do with chess, but positions two people in a way that makes it obvious that some sort of game is going on. It’s an amusing work, and one that invites a response in terms of questioning the relationship between the people in the picture. An example of a painting that isn’t in any way significant as a work of art, but which somehow stays in the mind.
A well-produced small book has been published in conjunction with these exhibitions, and is reasonably priced. It isn’t a complete catalogue of all the paintings displayed, but is useful as guide to many of them.