The Bain Art Collection
In 1948 the renowned Scottish Painter, Anne Redpath OBE ARA, visited Withington and spent time in the Art Department. The Artist assisted with hanging artwork and produced a series of pastel drawings of a number of Withington pupils. Anne Redpath was a dear friend of our Headmistress of the time, Miss Bain.
Anne Redpath gave an interesting talk titled Modern Painters to the Upper School, and her thoughts and ideas are truly reflected in her own paintings of landscapes, still lives and portraits. Redpath suggested;
‘We should not be afraid of saying what we felt about pictures and music. Pictures should be felt and no one should be afraid of liking the ” wrong ” pictures. Taste would grow and pictures would teach us to see Nature with fresh eyes. The artist saw colour in everything. Roads might even be seen as bright blue in colour after rain if eyes were observant and if ideas were not con- ventionalised. We should experiment with colour in such things as finding unusual flowers for decorating our dinner tables—withered leaves, the seed pods of poppies after the flower petals had gone, odd bits and pieces all surprisingly contributed joy and colour. Her exposition of MacTaggart’s search for pure line, of Matisse’s joy in colour—violets and yellows which some people said did not ” go ” together, and of Picasso’s draughtsmanship and satire, opened new worlds for many of us who were not slow to appreciate the presence of a true artist amongst us.’
The Artist presented Miss Bain with two paintings. One is titled The Chinese Rug and is a symphony of blues and oranges. The viewer peers down upon a round kitchen table and a chair. The table supports an arrangement of objects such as a vase of flowers, oranges, a cup and a milk jug. The table stands proudly on top of a vibrant rug illustrated with a floral pattern and a pony.
The other artwork is an atmospheric landscape with skeletal trees growing on a sloping field of dry grass. In the distance behind the trees you can see a river and hills of yellow and green tones. The sky is cloudy with a snippet of blue breaking through.
Upon her retirement in 1961, Miss Bain bequeathed the two artworks to our School. Thanks to Miss Bain, the School now has a selection of artworks created by Northern Artists. These drawings, paintings and mixed media pieces hang on the School corridors for staff, pupils and visitors to enjoy. A number of artworks had been donated or commissioned prior to the establishment of the Bain collection in 2008. These include the Centenary Tapestry and a popular artwork titled Creative Recycling. All of these artworks have been integrated into the collection.
A number of Sixth Form pupils enrolled on the Archive and Museum Studies Enrichment course have provided short reviews on their favourite artworks held within the collection;
Pedi at Night by Artist Don McKinlay
This painting by Don McKinlay was produced in 2008 as part of a series of images of Pedi, a Grecian island in the North Aegean Sea. It is interesting how McKinlay has chosen to capture the unconventional perspective of looking towards the land from sea, rather than from land towards the sea. I like how this painting of this bay has three clear layers that crescendo from dark to light; in between the black sky scattered with specks of yellow stars and the misty grey water flecked with streaks of blue, the curved outline of the bay and undulating hilltops of the island of Pedi capture my focus. Despite not featuring a single living being, the liveliness of this island is indicated by the strings of lights that stream through the town and are reflected on the surface of the water. I appreciate the way in which McKinlay’s blurred brushstrokes have a mirage effect, as if an inability to gain a clear focus of life on this island only fuels the intrigue of the observer and the mysticism of the island itself. I also like the quiet atmosphere of celebration that McKinlay has managed to create through his artwork; this painting so perfectly conveys the promise that long summer evenings on European islands possess.
Trio of Paintings by Artist David Cook A.R.C.A
This energetic trio of artworks by David Cook add a splash of colour to the Bain Collection. With their unconventional use of colour and expressive brush strokes, these works are not landscapes in the traditional sense. However, an illusion to woodland and garden scenes is created by the effective use of light: this gives the artworks a sense of direction and dimension. The dynamic brushstrokes evocative of foliage create a feeling of movement and animation.
This piece of artwork was donated in June 2007 by Dr Mary McDonald on her retirement as Deputy Head after 35 years at Withington. It is a beautiful fusion of art and recycling which was commissioned from Creative Recycling, Chorlton. It is made up of wild and cultivated flora, paper, fused waste glass and other textiles. The piece has a very light and natural feel which highlights the importance of recycling and looking after the environment. Furthermore the structure of the piece can be seen as a metaphor for different ways of learning as it moves from the more organised, singular elements on the outsides of the piece to the three larger central parts showing that the segments are independent in their own space but also work together as a group. Overall, the piece in lovely in both composition and message.
By Viola & Joanne
The Bain Art Collection now supports the teaching of Art, during both compulsory lessons and throughout the extra-curricular Arts Award programmes.
If you would like to learn more about the Bain Art Collection or read the full list of Artists work, please get in touch via email; firstname.lastname@example.org
Miss Hannah Brown
Archivist, Junior Teacher of Art and Arts Award Advisor
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