The School of Art Kodansu and George Powell’s Japonisme – an essay by Isaac Peat

During my time studying the School of Art collections there has been one object which has always captured my attention and constantly enthused me – a small, Japanese, box-shaped object delicately dressed in fine iron inlay by a masterful craftsman (figures 1a-1e). This cabinet, which has never been opened in recent times, has only occasionally been displayed in public exhibitions and seemed too beautiful not to be put in the spotlight. The cabinet has led me to the story of its patron George Powell, as well as to its own cultural history and development, but also onto a bigger story of the influences of a western world opening itself to Japanese art and culture.

(Figure 1a) Iron Inlaid Japanese Zogan Kodansu, Meiji Period 1868-1912, possibly by Kyōto-ju Komai-sei, (Japanese) 25cm x 20cm x 12cm  

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Rigby Graham: Recording far-flung places, encapsulating time, flinging oranges.

By Heather Beales

Figure 9
Figure 9. Rigby Graham, ‘Balloon Race’, colour woodcut on white wove paper, 44.5x53cm, 1990. Image courtesy of Goldmark Gallery

Rigby Graham was an artist who worked within the British landscape tradition and enjoyed provoking the offence of traditionalists with his unusual juxtapositions, use of bold colour and materials. He was extremely prolific and produced a great many books and artworks in various types of printmaking, painting, illustration and stained glass. The School of Art Museum and Galleries owns a large collection of his prints, and a few of his drawings and watercolours. In 1987 John Piper admired Graham for his “unusual and indeed enviable capacity to make romantic and dramatic images out of ‘simple’ scenes – sometimes almost totally deserted ones”, (Ayad). Graham was interested in places that had history and had deteriorated with time, and many of his images are of castles, old churches and ruined monuments – and also of a shipwreck. Continue reading

Why was Cornelis Ploos van Amstel famous in the 18th Century but relatively unknown in the 21st Century? – Joanna Reed

The Aberystwyth School of Art Museum and Galleries catalogues the work that will be discussed in this essay as a “Dutch coastal scene with boats, figures and castle on an island. Stipple etching with watercolour, on white, laid paper, number PR305 (Fig. 1, referred to hereafter as PR305) Made by Cornelis Ploos van Amstel (1726-1798) somewhere between 1750 and his death in 1798 and in the style of Jan van Goyen.

Jan van Goyen was a leading Dutch landscape painter in the seventeenth century who painted scenes of the Lowlands. The National Gallery, London, observes that van Goyen’s “many drawings […] show that he travelled extensively around Holland and beyond” (National Gallery). This is something Cornelis Ploos van Amstel never did. Continue reading

Exploring the SoA Collections 2020

As part of the first year art history module Exploring the School of Art Collections, students have the opportunity to write a small piece for this blog. This year the group decided on the theme of ‘deference’ – historical and contemporary pictures that demonstrate traditions (imaginary or real) of loyalty be it to the church, to the state, to royalty, to their communities or even within personal relationships. Each student had the opportunity to choose from a selection of prints, drawings and photographs. They only had one week to undertake some research before presenting their drafts. They all worked very hard on these projects so please take the time to view their efforts. Continue reading

Exploring the School of Art Collection 2018

As part of the first year art history module Exploring the School of Art Collections, students have the opportunity to write a small piece for this blog. This year the group decided on the theme of ‘The Stage’. Each student had the opportunity to choose from a selection of prints, drawings and photographs featuring theatres, concerts, ballets, circuses and more. They only had one week to undertake some research before presenting their drafts. They all worked very hard on these projects so please take the time to view their efforts.

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Exploring the School of Art Collection 2017

Gathering Storm

Gathering Storm, Corinna Button, drypoint with monotype, 2006

Three women sit on a bench huddled close together. Backs to us, their arms wrap around each other snuggly, they look intimate and protected. Heads bent forward with faces close, these women are in the middle of a private moment, excluding the rest of the world. Rain falls from black clouds in the sky above, whilst overhead telephone wires stretch across poles from either side of the women, as if framing them. They are centre and focus of the print.

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‘Sea Change’- exhibition at the School of Art, 21st May – 31st August 2018

Strandgutsammler, photograph, circa 1930-1945, Hans Saebens (1895-1969)

Sea Change is a student-curated exhibition of prints, paintings, photographs and ceramics from the School of Art collection.  The exhibition borrows for its title a phrase from Shakespeare’s Tempest to explore its metaphorical potential.

Karen’s Cabinet of Curiosities December 2017

 

(Click on images to enlarge them.)

Curiosity: 2 miniature portraits of Napoleon Bonaparte

Created: 1824

Artist: Maestro di Pavia

Measurements: Full-length portrait: 183×118 mm

                              Head portrait: 74×62 mm

These two miniature portraits have come to the University museum’s collection through the bequest of George Powell of Nanteos. As with so many of his objects, we have unfortunately no idea how, when and where he bought them. Holland and Meyrick explain that “Powell was very taken with Romantic struggles for liberty and nationhood. Like many other collectors in the 19th century he collected material associated with Napoleon Bonaparte.” This and the exquisite execution of the portraits might have been his reasons for acquiring them. Continue reading

Exploring the work of Bert Isaac – A first glimpse

On 23 October 2017, the School of Art Museum and Galleries at Aberystwyth University received a substantial gift of some 174 artworks by the Welsh painter-printmaker Bert Isaac, who died in 2006. As Professor Robert Meyrick discovered on visiting his home in Abergavenny, his studio was a veritable treasure trove of prints, drawings and paintings, as well as sketchbooks and beautifully designed, hand-bound books that Isaac had produced in the course of a long artistic career dating back to the early 1940s. Continue reading

Karen’s Cabinet of Curiosities November 2017

Curiosity: Small boxes of different materials

(from the F. W. Rudler collection)

(Click on images to enlarge them.)

Prof. F.W. Rudler, (Chemistry, 1875-1879).Frederick William Rudler (8th July 1840 – 23rd January 1915)

Frederick William Rudler was born in London in 1840. He studied at the Regent Street Polytechnic where he attended Science and Art classes. During this time, he was awarded two gold medals in one year. In 1861, he was appointed Assistant Curator at the Museum of Practical Geology in Jermyn Street, London. He remained there until, in 1876, he was offered to become a lecturer in Natural Sciences at the University College of Wales (now Aberystwyth University “AU”). He taught Chemistry and also became one of the AU’s earliest Geology Professors. In addition, he founded the university’s museum and was its first Curator. When the Curator of the Museum of Practically Geology, Trenham Reeks (1823-1879), died Rudler took Reeks’s position and the roles as Librarian of the museum and the Registrar of the Royal School of Mines, now part of Imperial College, as well. He remained Curator at Jermyn Street until his retirement in 1902. The same year he received the Imperial Service Order from King Edward VII for his services to science. Continue reading