Time to Take Two

Last weekend Take Two opened, a new exhibition displaying paintings and drawings from the Derbyshire County Council collection. This show explores relationships between some of the pictures at the museum, by looking at two works by the same artist or images of the same view by two different artists.

Buxton Montage by Zoe Badger (2010)

Buxton Montage by Zoe Badger (2010), winner of the Derbyshire Open Friends Purchase Prize

I joined the team at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery this summer and have spent the last 6 weeks planning the exhibition. I’ve been helped on this journey by brilliant art student and artist in the making Rachel Hesketh, who has assisted with everything and anything including locating pictures in the store, choosing works for display, researching information about artists and taking photographs. The exhibition hang was a real team effort as we carried paintings from store to gallery, agonised over the lay out and resized labels.

Part of the Old Bath, Matlock Bath by Mary Mitford c.1770

Part of the Old Bath, Matlock Bath by Mary Mitford (c.1770)

One of the remits for Take Two was that the work was ‘made in Derbyshire’ and it has been wonderful to have the opportunity to show some paintings that won’t have been seen for a while alongside some more recent acquisitions. Also on display are two works by Sheffield artist, Eddy Dreadnought, completed as part of his residency at Tarmac Lafarge’s Tunstead Quarry in summer 2014, which complement some of the industrial paintings from the museum collection.

The Peak by Gwen Tarbuck (2000) Winner of the Derbyshire Open Friends Purchase Prize.

The Peak by Gwen A Tarbuck (2000), winner of the Derbyshire Open Friends Purchase Prize

Look out for a few other treasures including a copy of Ebenezer Rhodes’ Peak Scenery, or the Derbyshire Tourist (1818-1823) – illustrated by F L Chantrey, whose engraving of Castle Rock is also on show – and husband and wife artistic duo, Samuel and Ann Rayner, whose lithograph and engraving on Ashford Black Marble are displayed side by side.

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Matlock Bath, engraving on Ashford Black Marble by Ann Rayner (c1840)

I hope this exhibition inspires you to get out and about around Derbyshire and the Peak District, and look forward to sharing more with you soon. Take Two is showing at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery until Saturday 7 November 2015.

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Photographs in the Landscape part two

In my last blog, I wrote about the challenges of taking high-quality photographs of museum objects. Glazed paintings are particularly problematic as they reflect, especially when using a flash. I was keen to see what solution professional photographer Nick Lockett would come up with. The answer was a giant pair of black curtains! With a dash of Photoshop, of course. Note that the handsome chap behind the camera in this picture is me, along with Nick’s assistant and brother Steve; a bit cheeky considering I was just the monkey, not the organ-grinder.

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Photographing the art collection was easier as I was not required to open any of the cases in The Wonders of the Peak, unlike last time. Some of those old displays were not designed for quick and easy access which is good news for museum security but bad news for photo projects. Fortunately, due to the efforts of the Derbyshire Museums Manager, Ros Westwood, the paintings live in a modern high-tech storage facility.

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Most of BMAG’s art collection will be available for you to view online before much longer; improved public access is one of the main aims of the project. More of our oil paintings are already on the Public Foundation Catalogue website http://www.thepcf.org.uk/ . I particularly like this one by David Russell because it depicts the exterior of the museum with an assortment of local characters.

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Talking of unusual pictures, Ros found this photo recently in a box from the Randolph Douglas collection. It is entitled In Search of Thermal Springs, Matlock Bath. Ros said it made her think of me. I have decided to take this as a compliment.

In search of thermal springs, Matlock Bath

More impressive is this action shot of climbing pioneer and cave explorer, Jim Puttrell (1869 -1939). It is thanks to Puttrell that Buxton Museum has a fantastic collection of minerals.

Puttrell

As if these discoveries were not exciting enough, Douglas had also kept some postcards of Dicky’s Skull. What is Dicky’s Skull I hear you ask? Find out in my next blog; if you dare!

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