Hare Alert by John Wilder

Description: Painting depicting a brown hare standing on its hind legs in dry grass.

Date painted: 1987

Media: Watercolour and gouache on paper

Dimentions: 647 x 485mm

About the Artist: John Wilder was born 1946 in Essex. Self-taught, he did not begin painting until his late thirties. He switched from his career as a builder to become a full-time artist. He specialises in British wildlife. His work tends to approach the animal in a highly detailed manner and treat the surrounding landscape more freely.

Interesting fact: Wilder was first inspired to paint when he saw a painting by Sir Alfred Munnings (said to be one of England’s finest painters of horsea (1878 – 1959)) which he felt, although it ‘looked’ right, was anatomically incorrect. So Wilder drew it to find out what Munnings had done and why.

Display: This painting was recently displayed as part of ‘Nature’s Code’ October 8th – 20th 2019, an exhibition exploring the Fibonacci Sequence and the Golden Ratio; how they appear in nature, works of art and their perceived relationship to beauty.

Blog Entry #3 February 16th 2019

My last two weeks at Nature in Art have been relatively the same, I have been tasked with working on social media for the museum. For millennials this seems trivial, like an everyday pastime that isn’t given much thought, except what will get the most “likes.” However, in the museum world, especially a remote museum like Nature in Art, social media is a huge resource.
It helps get the word out, creating a larger, and more diverse clientele.

Different social media platforms will reach different types of people. For example, Facebook has a wider reach with different people, and also has pages you can use for your business. You can also use Facebook advertising, which offers targeted reach for customers, it allows you to narrow your
search until you’re focusing attention on only the clients most likely to be interested in your services. However, Facebook may not necessarily be the right platform for you, the fast-paced nature of Twitter, along with the fact that it appeals to world leaders, politicians, and journalists can make it ideal for organisations who want to stay ahead of the curve. Using both platforms is definitely a smart choice, especially for Nature in Art, which is trying to attract new visitors, as well as encouraging return visits.

An extremely helpful tip for social media that I have learned while at Nature in Art is how to schedule posts in advance on social media. On Twitter you can schedule up to 30 posts in advance. This makes it much easier for businesses to keep up with all of their social media sharing, allowing them to pursue other avenues of advertising. I have done up until July in social media for Nature in Art, enabling me and the lead curator to focus on other things coming up: like the exhibition coming up on the 26th of March: The Langley Mill Pottery Exhibition!

In the most recent Nature in Art newsletter (sent out quarterly to all members and available to purchase in the shop) there is a three page background on Langley Mill Pottery that is very interesting and thorough if you would like to know more before going to the exhibition. There is one point in my research that I have elaborated more on that is not in the pamphlet that I found very interesting. It mentions three prominent artists working in the mill at the same time in the 1880’s. These people were Mary Helen Goodyer, George Leighton Parkinson, and a relative of the owner of the mill, Eleanor “Daisy” Calvert. Each of these artists were very accomplished and something should be said for their perspective styles. They also had very distinctive signatures in their work; something that people visiting this exhibition should look out for! It would be very exciting if visitors could pinpoint different works done by one of the three different artists and find their insignias.

Mary Helen Goodyer’s pieces have designs cut directly on the surface, executed through colored slip glaze, which had been previously applied to the surface of the piece. In some examples of her work, the design, usually botanical, has been built up with layers of other coloured slips, chrysanthemums being typical of this method of decoration. Gilding, or the
practice of adding gold to a work, was often effectively used to highlight the designs she created, dramatically demonstrated with her many sunflower motif jars.

George Leighton Parkinson was originally a landscape artist, which is reflected onto many of his monogrammed pieces of Art Pottery. Biscuit barrels, vases, plaques and jardinieres all bear examples of his work, where a view of buildings of architectural, ecclesiastical, or historical interest have been incised, then painted on colored slips. Swallows were often included in these scenes. Seascapes were another regular theme on his decorated pieces. Some of his relatives lived in Scarborough, and he is known to have cycled there in the summer months, depicting seascape scenes from there.

Daisy Calvert was the daughter of William Calvert, one of the initial owners of Langley Mill Pottery. She started decorating pottery as young as 16 at the Mill. Her insignia only appears between 1890 and 1894 when her father owned the business and she was old enough to participate. The pieces of Art Ware that Daisy Calvert decorated were usually of botanical subjects, especially poppies, daisies, ears of wheat and barley. She also created some more stylized flowers, which are not as easily identified now.

Blog Entry #2 January 30th 2019

Today my day was split between two projects: volunteers and the color blue. The first task involved updating the volunteer database with information such as their availability for the upcoming year which was collected during the annual volunteers Christmas Party (definitely excited about this for next year). I enjoyed getting to know the volunteers names, so i can begin to put faces to names as i meet them and hopefully by next years Christmas Party I will know them all!

For the second half of the day I quite literally researched the color Blue. For the upcoming exhibition “Into the Blue,” I was able to hear and participate in the logistics and prep work alongside Emily Cooper, the Curator, and Simon Trapnell, the Director. We discussed interesting ways of organising and presenting the exhibition including a scientific approach detailing different types of blue pigments in reference to the works. This could include how it is made, the colors’ historical or cultural significance, or how certain blues transfer to certain materials, whether that is ceramics or oil paint on canvas. This research did prove a little daunting because of the scope. I began by making a list of the different types of blues and wrote about how each one was created and how it affects different materials. Some people may think that there are only a few different types of blues, however, if you take into account hues, shades and tints there are many more. I tried to narrow it down to about 14 main blues that could be attributed to the collection of works we have.

I found one rather interesting Blue called YlnMn, that was only discovered in 2009 by a graduate student named Andrew Smith at Oregon State University in the United States. The brilliant blue (pictured) is now even being made into a crayon by Crayola!

This research is on-going, and will probably take numerous twists and turns before the exhibition while we find connections between our research and artworks.  A great thing about curating exhibitions within an independant museum & gallery like Nature in Art is the element of freedom and ability to change and adapt with relative ease without having to resubmit an exhibition proposal for example. Nature in Art runs on donations, memberships, entry fees and the coffee & gift shop. It doesn’t receive any regular external grants or funding, we are accountable to ourselves. So if we do decide half way through the planning of “Into the Blue” that the initial idea isn’t going to work or that there is a better way, then we can implement the change.  This freedom enables us to present a wide range of exhibitions with appeal to audiences with greatly differing interests. They just have to be inspired by nature!

Until next time,

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Review – Bella Lucchesi

As a lover of animals, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibit was extraordinary. Not only are the photos in amazing HD Quality, but there was also a movie element showing other entries that were voted as “people’s choice awards.”

The exhibit was definitely an experience, and one you should not see if you fear getting emotional in public. My experience was one I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

The exhibit had a large array of photos. Some showed beautiful animals and breath-taking natural views, others were comedic, like the photo entitled “Looking for Love” by Tony Wong where a very unattractive and rather funny-looking fish seems to be smiling for the camera. Others were brutal, showing fierce battles between animals, or gruesome and rather off putting mating rituals. However, what I definitely was not expecting was how incredibly sad some were.

It could have been the picture itself, like “autopsy” by Antonio Olmos depicting a newly deceased tiger on an operating table, or it could have been the description, explaining that the beautiful creature in the photo was now extinct due to poachers. The one that really made me tear up was “Kuhirwa Mourns her Baby” by Ricardo Núñez Montero, where a gorilla is holding her dead, skeletal child in her arms. In its description it says that the female “gorilla would not give up on her dead baby. Initially she cuddled and groomed the tiny corpse, carrying it piggyback like the other mothers. Weeks later, she started to eat what was left of it”. However, as my emotions dulled after leaving the exhibition, I was left with facts that not only surprised, but entertained me.

Did you know that the tiny and colourful yellow pygmy goby often inhabits old worm holes or empty bottles or cans, lays several batches of eggs, while the male takes on guard duty to defend from intruders? That red deer shed their antlers every winter, which are made of bone, and when spring comes they regrow with a protective covering called velvet? Alongside every photo is information on how the photo was taken and interesting facts on the subject. I felt like I had seen beautiful photos come to life.

I left with a whirlwind of emotions, but more importantly, I left with the feeling that I didn’t waste my time. I learned so much and got so much out of it that when I got home I looked up the show again online and started to research different parts of the world and different plants and animals that had interested me. I think that is all you can really ask for in an exhibit: where you become so interested and inspired that you take the time to look up certain aspects of the exhibition on your own. Isn’t that the point of an exhibition anyway? To get people involved. To get people interested. To create something that people will remember.

Blog Entry #1 January 23rd, 2019

Today was my first day being a “curator-in-training” at the Nature in Art Museum in Gloucester. Although the day was busy and filled with lots of information, everyone on staff was extremely welcoming, making me feel like I was already a part of their family.

My day started off by being shown into my office! It is where the museum is housing a small library that is being catalogued at the moment, but I have a computer and a beautiful view of the grounds. (pictured). Once I settled in, I was briefed about the upcoming exhibit “Into the Blue.” As the title suggests, every artwork in the exhibition will be predominantly the colour blue. However, Nature in Art needs to find more artworks for the exhibition, so, they need to talk to collectors. This process is rather strenuous for the curator because they need to find collectors that are willing to loan out their art for the exhibition. This is where Vastari comes in. Now I know what all my art historian friends are thinking… “Isn’t Vasari the name of the renowned Italian artist in the 16th, most famous today for his Encyclopaedia of Artistic Biographies, making him the first art historian?” The answer is (I thought rather surprisingly), No. This is VasTari, an international online service provider that connects curators to collectors to collaborate on exhibition loans. You can also promote your own exhibitions, find exhibitions for your venue, promote your collection, and find objects for your exhibition. It is an incredible resource for curators to have, and one that I was very fortunate to learn about on my first day. So for the next two hours, I looked through Vastari’s fine art collection to find blue works that would fit into Nature in Arts Exhibition. However, this task proved more difficult than I initially thought, my keywords used in the search becoming increasingly more juvenile and uncreative, resulting in a Thesaurus on my lap looking up synonyms for the words “nature”, “landscape”, and “animals”. In the end, I found about 20 different artworks that could fit into the exhibition, and most importantly, I got a feel for the website.

After this online debacle, I was shown how the museum monitors their rooms/galleries and storage spaces to the correct temperature to protect their artwork. These temperature readings are kept on little black thermometers with a USB port attached to the end of them. Every month an employee plugs them into a computer to see how each room’s temperature and humidity are doing. They make sure it hasn’t gotten too hot or too cold, and they log the data into their systems. When asking for a loan for a piece of artwork, the museum needs to show this data to ensure the collector that the proper conditions have been put in place to house their work so it will not be ruined. Every certified museum needs evidence of this to be able to house objects. I was asked to take over this task every month.

Lastly, I was asked to take pictures and write a review of the exhibition Nature in Art has on now, “Wildlife Photographer of the Year”. I have to be candid and say that it was one of the best exhibits I’ve been to in a long while. If interested, you can find it on the Nature in Art website.

All in all, a very successful first day (I think, we will see what my superiors actually think when reading this account). I cannot wait to keep people posted on my year as a curator-in-training with Nature in Art.

Bella Lucchesi

Welcome Bella!

We are delighted to welcome UWE MA/MFA Curating student, Bella Lucchesi to the team at Nature in Art.

Born and raised in Northern Virginia, near Washington D.C., Bella graduated from Christopher Newport University in May 2017. She studied a double major in Oil Painting and Art History with a minor in Museum Studies. Studying alongside a wide array of artists and art historians, Bella got involved in different art mediums and art galleries around her university. She began interning at three different art galleries, helping with installation, events, and eventually curation, leading to a great interest in the field.

After graduation, Bella secured a job at a non-profit art organization called The Art League in the town of Alexandria in Virginia. In that position, Bella was responsible for planning events, installing their gallery, and administration. In addition, Bella was the Director of their Art Camps, providing professional art experience to children and teenagers. After a year and a half at the organization, Bella decided to pursue a career in curating and applied for a Masters in the subject.

Bella will be spending a day a week with us throughout 2019 working with Collections Officer, Emily Cooper, contributing to exhibitions, collections and marketing work.

Throughout the year Bella will be keeping a blog of her experiences whilst working at Nature in Art so please check back regularly to keep up to date.