World Museum Tour-St Barbe-Lymington.

Back in December I visited Lymington. It is a historic market town with a harbour, high street, slippy cobbles and excellent charity shops. I thought that I would tie the trip into research for a gallery visit to use for my art history course.

St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery is situated off the main high street. From the outside without any knowledge of the history of the building it all looked very new and modern and had a cafe with big windows to nose out of. I understand that ‘nose’ isn’t the correct language to use when researching but they were very big windows.

On arrival it was quite busy with lots of people in the cafe and bustling around. I had my National Art Pass so entrance was free on producing but the prices vary between adult and child and are between £3.00 and £6.00 if you include gift aid.

The exhibition that was being shown was Art of World War II: John Noott Collection.

Featuring rarely seen portrayals of Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz, this exhibition explores the art of the Second World War through the remarkable collection of art dealer John Noott.’

‘John Noott was just seven when war broke out in 1939. Later in life, as a successful art dealer, he began to collect art made during the war years. The collection now includes over 100 paintings, prints and posters by famous and lesser-known artists, including Felix Topolski and Eduardo Paolozzi. After a brief showing at the Broadway Arts Festival in 2016, this exhibition represents the first major gallery showing of Noott’s rich collection of war art.’

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I didn’t ask about taking pictures in the gallery spaces until I was inside so I kept it to a minimum of a couple of outdoor images and a few indoor to show the inside of the gallery.

I looked up the origins of the museum on their website;

‘St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery is an independent organisation governed by Lymington Museum Trust, a registered charity (no.1018779). Since opening in 1999, it has acquired a reputation as one of the finest museums and art galleries in the region. In July 2017, St Barbe re-opened after a 10 month closure for a total refurbishment. The project was made possible by a £1.78 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and more than £500,000 in donations from other trusts, organisations, businesses and individuals.’

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How the gallery used to look before refurbishment. This image is on the art uk website and it hasn’t been updated to show the new building. I feel I must tell them.

‘The Museum is housed in a building which was formerly Lymington’s first national school, built in 1835. The museum was opened in its current form in 1999 and is fully accessible. St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery’s collections cover primarily the social history of the New Forest coast area, including Lymington, New Milton, Milford-on-Sea, Barton, Boldre, Sway and Hordle. This comprises a large photographic collection, prints and drawings and a collection of items reflecting the people, events, places and businesses of the Solent shore.’

Going into the first gallery the exhibition was brightly lit and very well set out. There was a lot to get through and see but as I had set my mind on looking for portraits I felt I did skim past some of the paintings around the side.

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Ruskin Spear (1911-1990) VE Night.

I was drawn to this image mainly because of the colours and how busy it was.

‘Ruskin Spear, CBE, RA (30 June 1911 – 17 January 1990) was an English painter. Born in Hammersmith, Spear attended the local art school before going on to the Royal College of Art in 1930. He began his teaching career at Croydon School of Art, going on to teach at the Royal College of Art from 1948 to 1975.

Initially influenced by Walter Sickert and the Camden Town Group, and the portraiture of the Euston Road School, his work often has a narrative quality, with elements of humour and gentle satire.

Because he used a wheelchair due to childhood polio, much of his work focused on his immediate surroundings. He rendered the citizens of Hammersmith relaxing in and around the local pubs, theatres and shops. A retrospective of Spear’s work was held at the Royal Academy in 1980. His work is represented in the Tate Gallery Collection.

A large number of Spear’s paintings are held in important public collections, including the Government Art Collection, Arts Council England, National Portrait Gallery, Imperial War Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts.’

After reading about him concentrating on his immediate surroundings I could see this reflected in the image. I imagine this party happening outside the pub, people pouring out into the streets to celebrate. Finally being able to see some sort of end to the war and for just this one night life was as it used to be.

The detail is very apparent in the colours, the people dancing and waving flags, even the ironwork above the doorway and the signs get the same detailed treatment.

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Next to this painting is a piece by Feliks Topolski of The Nuremberg Trials.

Feliks Topolski was born on 14 August 1907 in Warsaw, Poland. He studied in the Warsaw Academy of Art, and trained as an artillery officer.

Later he studied and worked in Italy and France, and eventually he moved to Britain in 1935 after being commissioned to record King George V’s silver jubilee. He opened a studio near Waterloo station, which later became an exhibition and then a cafe-bar featuring his art.

During the Second World War, Topolski became an official war artist and painted scenes of the Battle of Britain and other battlefields. In 1941, Topolski travelled to Russia alongside the men of 151 Wing RAF on board the RMS Llanstephan Castle, which was sailing to the port Archangelsk as part of Force Benedict, a mission to provide air support in defence of the port of Murmansk. Topolski was travelling as an accredited War Artist for both Polish and British governments. He was also under contract to Picture Post magazine, which published many of his drawings after his return.’

You can only just see the image at the side but again this is an artist I hadn’t heard of but once I started to research him, I recognised his images and style. I am cross with myself that I don’t know more about him as his work is wonderful. Here is some information about his Nuremberg paintings. http://www.topolskicentury.org.uk/memoir/belsen-and-nuremberg/

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CONFESSIONS OF A CONGRESS DELEGATE.
PRINTED IN 1949. AN ACCOUNT OF THE ADVENTURES OF FELIKS TOPOLSKI WHO WAS AN ARTIST DELEGATE AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF INTELLECTUALS FOR PEACE.

How heavenly to be in civvies again, David Louis Ghilchik1944.

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I focused in on this image which I thought was worth a sneaky photograph. I loved the colours and line drawings by the artist and it reminded me of old-fashioned perfume adverts from the 1930’s. 

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Cartoon, c. 1920, Ghilchik.

David Louis Ghilchik was born in Botoşani, Romania, on 7 April 1892, the son of Abraham Josef Ghilchik, a dealer in lace and linen, and his wife Sali. The family moved to Salford, and David studied under Adolphe Valette at Manchester School of Art from 1907 to 1915.  He went on to study under Henry Tonks and Ambrose McEvoy at the Slade School of Fine Art. He served as a truck driver on the Italian front during the First World War.

He drew cartoons for Punch, including some silent comic pages, and the Daily Sketch, between the wars. He competed for Great Britain in the 1928 and 1932 Olympics in the mixed painting, drawing and watercolour event, and painted in oils in a style influenced by Christopher Wood, exhibiting widely. He died in Poplar, London, in the fourth quarter of 1972.’

I found the first gallery well set out and you were able to walk through without any obstacles in the way. I was able to get up close to the images and see and study them. The floor space was big enough so that you could stand back and admire the paintings. There were an awful lot of artists I didn’t know and having since researched the exhibition further there were a lot of artists that I did know but showing work that was different from their usual signature pieces.

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The displays in the middle of the floor, I didn’t really notice. The floor space is quite large and I think because I was looking for certain paintings that I needed to research, I walked past them. If I hadn’t have taken these pictures I don’t think I would have remembered them. I don’t know why this is, maybe I was concentrating too much and walked around the outside only.

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The second room held the museum which had lots of local history pieces inside. I am not from the area but it was very interesting to learn about its past and the surrounding areas. I did very much like these big shells and sharks teeth.

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The exhibition had very good access going from room to room.  Full disabled access along with magnifiers, guide dog friendly and seating if you needed it. The large print exhibition labels were very good for me as even with glasses I can struggle sometimes.

The cabinets were full of curiosities mainly about the history of Lymington and the surrounding areas. Lots of interactive exhibits to listen to and touch.

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Compare this outside view with the one HERE of what the gallery and museum looked like before being refurbished and you can see the difference. The style of the building is very modern and the new signage and glass front. 

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Those slippy cobbles I mentioned earlier. ‘lethal in the frost’ I was told.

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New Forest pony.

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The exhibition was very interesting and the gallery and museum itself is a little gem. They have an excellent website that tells you all about the history and the exhibitions they have on show. I am unsure at to whether there was an exhibition catalogue as this is one thing I really could have done with.

Visit their Website here-  https://www.stbarbe-museum.org.uk/