Sharing our passion for art;
learning thrives at Compton Verney
Critical support for Compton Verney We are delighted to tell you that Compton Verney continues to receive significant support to help us fulfil our mission to share our passion for art with as many people as possible. The Beecroft Trust has granted us £100,000 to sponsor Periodic Tales, an exhibition planned for 2015 that explores art inspired by and made from elements in the periodic table. Matching the Trust’s interests in science, education and art, this exhibition promises to not only be beautiful but also a wonderful springboard for fascinating visitor activity and learning programmes. The Arts Council have awarded Compton Verney £105,000 to research and address factors that will encourage new people to visit us. Just as with fundraising, increasing visitor numbers is critical to enable us to continue to host exhibitions and learning programmes of the highest calibre, as well as to care for our historic buildings and landscape. In fact, we could use your help with a major project that is being proposed for the restoration of our landscape, pathways and Chapel, as well as art in the grounds strategy. We would very much like to have your thoughts on our plans, more about which can be found on page 10. As you will see on page 8, several grants have also
recently been received to support learning programmes. Family and school activities, which account for approximately £100,000 of our annual budget, can cost anywhere from £5.50 to subsidise one school child’s visit, to £15,000 for bespoke learning packs and weekend events for an exhibition. As the Peter Moores Foundation, which has been so generous to Compton Verney, is winding up in 2014, such support is crucial. For more information about Compton Verney’s finances, governance and progress, visit the website in August to view our Annual Report. We are planning an exciting series of events for Benefactors, Patrons, Supporters and Members for the rest of 2013. These include another Open House, a music and wine evening, a trip to Vienna , and tours of private collections. Please be sure to keep your membership up to date and consider upgrading so you don’t miss out. I’m sorry to say that Rebecca Mundy, who has had such success with corporate, trust and foundation fundraising over the last year is going to be leaving us to become a Trainee Commodities Buyer for Bettys and Taylors. We will be very sad to see her go but wish her well with her new travel and adventures. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of assistance. Thanks again for your support of Compton Verney Alice Gosling Head of Development
Contents Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 8 Page 10 Page 10
Critical support for Compton Verney News bites and wine tasting Edward VI at Compton Verney Sharing our passion for art; learning thrives at Compton Verney Morgan Jones, Volunteer Extraordinaire Have your say and help bring our landscape to life
End of an era, Joan Broad retires
Behind the scenes; Creating an Exhibition Compton Verney Fundraising Dinner A day in the life; Sam Skillings, Head of Marketing
Page 14 Page 15
Cover photo of Compton Verney family activities © John Cleary Photography
Chiltern Railway Support We continue to be indebted to Chiltern Railways, who have donated tickets for our press views for over six years. A great way to provide in-kind support, these tickets allow representatives of the press from across the country to view exhibitions and promote Compton Verney. A recent review of Bellini, Botticelli, Titian…500 Years of Italian Art by Jackie Wullschlager in the Financial Times said "What a terrific collection – enriched by the prisms of history it reflects, and a vivid sense that responses to art never stand still." By enabling us to get the word out in this way, Chiltern’s support is invaluable.
Bee-utiful addition to wildlife Celebrating Volunteers Director Steven Parissien and Chairman Kirsten Suenson-Taylor were delighted to host a tea for our wonderful volunteers in honour of National Volunteers’ Day. Donating more than 4,000 man hours per year, these individuals give their time and talents to help us with every aspect of what we do from planting bulbs to teaching school children.
Dreweatts Auctioneers We are delighted to welcome Dreweatts Auctioneers here for a valuation day on 15 July. Eric Knowles, a well-known and highly regarded antiques guru, will provide valuations free of charge. Everyone is welcome.
We are delighted to announce our first two beehives have arrived and, with a planting scheme aided by Lloyds Black Horse volunteers on Give and Gain Day, we will soon have a wild flower meadow to help them make the first pots of Compton Verney honey. Volunteer Rod Oates will be acting as our beekeeper and we hope to expand the number of hives in due course.
Award-winning Curator Curator Penny Sexton recently won a Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Grant from the Art Fund to attend the opening of Venice Biennale with Arts Council England. This enabled her to meet colleagues and artists from around the world and do research for upcoming exhibitions.
Fun-raising concert and wine tasting 19 July You are invited to join us to enjoy a wine tasting, hosted by Seven Springs Vineyards, followed by an exclusive piano recital featuring Marios Papadopoulos, Oxford Philomusica’s Music Director in aid of the restoration of our landscape. Based in the Overberg region of South Africa, Seven Springs Vineyard is sited on the R320 Wine Route, between the picturesque sea-side town of Hermanus and the spa town of Caledon. Although the vines were only planted in 2007 the wines are already receiving great reviews. Vineyard owners Tim and Vaughan Pearson, who live locally and support Compton Verney, will guide us through a tasting of the full range: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay (un-oaked and oaked), Syrah and Pinot Noir.
Following the wine tasting, you will hear one of the world’s most accomplished pianists perform. Marios Papadopoulos (right) has been described by the London Times as “one of the world’s greatest players” and has appeared with many of the world’s greatest orchestras. In 1998 he founded Oxford Philomusica, the Orchestra in Residence at the University of Oxford, of which he is Music Director.
Marios will perform Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. For tickets, please call Jess on 01926 645 547 3
Edward VI at Compton Verney The most accomplished portrait Scrots painted during his time in England, and arguably the most impressive image of Edward VI extant today, is the portrait of the king now in the collection at Compton Verney.
King Edward VI is now popularly remembered only as a sickly, doomed boy-king, a short-lived monarch whose transitory reign and inevitable death paved the way for the martyrs’ bonfires of his Catholic sister, Mary I. The notion of Edward as an ill-fated sovereign, dominated by unscrupulous adults and predestined to die before his maturity, was reinforced at the end of the nineteenth century by Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper of 1881. However, more recent scholarship, backed by a reinterpretation of the iconography of Compton Verney’s splendid portrait by Guillim Scrots, suggests that this stereotype is grossly unfair – and that, until his untimely death in 1553, Edward VI had been regarded as a paragon of Renaissance princes whose health, bearing and disposition augured well for the survival of both the House of Tudor and the newborn Church of England. 4
A lot was riding on Edward VI’s succession in 1547. Both Edward’s grandfather, Henry VII, and his father, Henry VIII, had been at great pains to stress the strength and legitimacy of the recently-established Tudor dynasty – which was barely fifty years old at the time of Edward’s accession. The Tudors continued to face challenges to their authority from within – one of the most serious of which, the Western Rebellion of 1549, forced Protector Somerset to field an army of continental mercenaries – and without, a problem which Henry VIII had exacerbated by breaking away from the ecclesiastical supremacy of Rome in order to secure a male succession. As a result of the establishment of the Church of England, from the mid-1530s the threat of a continental invasion – spearheaded either by Imperial or French forces, or possibly both, and designed to force England back into the Catholic fold –
remained worryingly real. Given this context of insecurity, it is hardly surprising that the early Tudors were desperate to appear as the lawful and robust successors to the English monarchs of old. Thus, from the instant of his birth, the future Edward VI was portrayed as wise and mature well beyond his years. This is perhaps not surprising given that Henry VIII was, by the standards of the time, relatively old in 1537, and was deteriorating fast. Hans Holbein’s portrait of young Edward of c.1540, now in the National Gallery in Washington, accordingly shows the royal toddler as grown man, using his rattle as a sceptre. In contrast to the modern image of Edward as a perennially sickly child, the young king’s health was actually very good – robust enough, at least, to survive a serious fever in 1541. Young Edward soon appeared to be the very model of a Renaissance prince. He was talented and clever: taught by Cambridge academics, he was nevertheless a fluent Latin speaker by the time of accession, had mastered Greek by 1551, and was soon an accomplished lutenist. He was definitely no mere cipher. Like his father before him, he liked dressing richly: in the words of his most recent biographer, Jennifer Loach, he ‘maintained all his father’s magnificence’. He was evidently keen on personal display: his clothes shone with gold, silver and precious stones, and by 1550 he was buying many costly jewels from Europe to adorn his clothes. (In1551 Edward acquired the famous Burgundian jewel ‘The Three Brothers’, which incorporated huge rubies and a giant diamond, from the banker Jacob Fugger. The jewel remained in the Royal Collection until it was pawned by Charles I in 1626.) As Loach noted, ‘there was nothing simple or childish about [Edward’s] appearance or his surroundings. The tone of his court remained, as it had been in Henry’s day, cosmopolitan and worldly’. Edward was an enthusiastic archer and, like his father, was a keen jouster who also adored hunting. On a visit to Portsmouth in 1552, the precocious young monarch publicly criticised the inadequacy of the defences, and subsequently made a detailed study of the English
occupation of France in the early fifteenth century. He was, in short, very much his father’s son. In 1547 Hans Holbein had been dead four years, and his place as court portraitist had effectively been taken by Guillim Scrots. Born in Flanders in the early years of the sixteenth century, Scrots (formerly painter to the court of the Habsburg princess Mary of Hungary, Governor of the Netherlands, in Brussels) was first recorded in the employ of Henry VIII in the autumn of 1545. Little is, however, known of Scrots’ fate after 1553. It seems likely that, on Edward VI’s death and the accession of the religious conservative Mary I, he swiftly returned to the Netherlands. The most accomplished portrait Scrots painted during his time in England, and arguably the most impressive image of Edward VI extant today, is the portrait of the king now in the collection at Compton Verney. Scrots may not have been as talented as Holbein, but his allegorical portrait of Edward is both powerful and poignant. In the words of the celebrated art historian Ellis Waterhouse, ‘although Scrots was not a painter of high creative or imaginative gifts, he knew all the latest fashions, and a series of paintings appeared at the English court during the next few years which could vie in modernity with those produced anywhere in northern Europe’. Scrots seems to have helped to popularise the full-length portrait in England at the same time as it was becoming fashionable on the continent. In his portrait of Edward VI, he also uses the compositional device, popular among painters of the Italian Renaissance, of a sideways profile – a pose deliberately contrived to recall the rulers depicted on ancient coins. Scrots’ fine allegorical portrait was commissioned by Sir Michael Stanhope, brother-in-law of the Duke of Somerset. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, Stanhope had been granted the
namely to emphasise the seamless transition from the reign of Henry VIII to that of Edward VI. The key to the picture’s message lies in the two words added on the right. ‘Alter ego’ in this context does not translate as (as the Sotheby’s sale catalogue of 25 November 2004 posited) ‘another side of myself. Instead, Professor Langslow has suggested, it means ‘I am a second one’ – that the young Edward VI is a second Juniper, i.e. a second Henry VIII.
Nottinghamshire priories of Shelford and Lenton by Henry VIII. Stanhope’s star rose still further in 1547, when (presumably at Somerset’s instigation) he was knighted, created Governor of Windsor and Hull and, most crucially, made the young king’s Deputy Governor. It was in the latter role that he presumably commissioned Scrots to paint this iconic portrait. However, Somerset’s fall from power in October 1549 brought Stanhope down, too – suggesting that a more realistic date for this painting might be 1547 or 1548. (Stanhope finally went to the scaffold alongside Somerset in 1552; Scrots’ portrait, though, remained at Stanhope’s Derbyshire home at Elveston until the twentieth century.)
Past analysis of the Scrots portrait at Compton Verney has tended to misidentify both the inscriptions and the allegorical flora in the painting. However, a recent reappraisal of the picture – based on a re-evaluation of the inscriptions by the eminent classicist Professor David Langslow of Manchester University and a re-identification of the vegetation by Compton Verney’s Head of Landscape and Gardens, Gary Webb – has revealed the picture’s political purpose,
This meaning is also reflected in the inscriptions at the bottom – the left-hand one of which is, according to Professor Langslow, executed in ‘execrable Latin’: meant to be three elegiac couplets, it contains numerous basic linguistic errors. The gist of the inscriptions’ texts is that even those heliotropic plants which generally follow the sun (symbolised in the verses as ‘clytia’, i.e. Clytie, the Greek nymph whose unrequited passion for Helios/Apollo, the sun-god, led to her being turned into a heliotropic sunflower) turn in this instance not towards the sun but towards Edward. Flowers play a large part in the picture’s iconography. At its lefthand edge, the painting includes both the red and the white rose – the emblems of the Houses of Lancaster and York united by Edward VI’s grandfather, Henry VII, after 1485. The inclusion of these flowers, along with the rose held by the king, underlines the continuing importance to the Tudors of dynastic legitimacy – a goal even more important given that the English Reformation had made the nation doubly vulnerable to attack from the Catholic powers on the continent. However, the painting’s other flora have, in the past, often been ignored or wrongly identified. The plants to the immediate right of
the pair of roses, (which are not even mentioned in the Sotheby’s sale catalogue) are calendula officinalis or pot marigolds. Nicknamed ‘the herb of the sun’ since at least the fourteenth century (the plant’s etymology derives from Mary, the Mother of God + gold), this brief-flowering, aromatic perennial was traditionally associated with sun’s energy. It was used in cooking and dyeing for yellow colouring, as a cheaper substitute for saffron. Most relevantly, the marigold was habitually linked with creativity – an attribute shared by the young monarch. In an ironic twist, the herb was also used to treat abdominal cramps of the type that the dying Edward VI was to suffer from. The flowers springing up to the right of Scrots’ bright marigolds have always been identified as violets (a provenance which Sotheby’s sale catalogue duly followed). However, the traditional symbolism of the violet – as a symbol of modesty (since it grows close to ground) and faithfulness, and as a pagan symbol of resurrection (it was traditionally associated with Persephone) – appear somewhat irrelevant to the subject of this painting. And, as Gary Webb has pointed out, while violets have heart-shaped leaves, these are spear-shaped, and while violets have five petals, these flowers have only four. A more realistic attribution of this plant, then, appears to be dianthus caryophyllus, the clove pink. This was a herb traditionally dedicated to Jupiter, which was said to give strength and health – attributes helpful to a new dynasty trying to assert its legitimacy. The clove pink’s neighbours, if they have been listed at all (the Sotheby’s sale particulars failed to mention them), have generally been labelled as pansies. This is almost correct: the flowers are properly ‘heartsease’, viola tricolor, the ancestor of modern, cultivated pansy. Heartsease symbolised thought and remembrance – thus, presumably, directing both Edward and the onlooker to remember the ‘original Jupiter’, Henry VIII. The large clump on the far right has traditionally been identified as a group of sunflowers. However, even a cursory
examination of the plants suggests this is wrong. On closer inspection, these appear to be tall, blue flowers of wild chicory. Like the sunflower – indeed, like all the other plants in the picture, aside from the Tudor roses – the chicory is heliotropic. It was also associated with magical powers, and with wellbeing, and is thus another reminder of Edward VI’s apparent rude health. The flora depicted here serves to underline the picture’s message that even heliotropic plants seek to turn to the ‘new Jupiter’ – the reincarnation of Henry VIII – rather than to the sun. Nonetheless, as the clumsy Latin inscription states, even the sun itself (as Jupiter, Helios or Apollo) now ‘happily unites’ with the auspicious young king. Seen from the standpoint of 1548, Scrots’ symbol-laden painting offered the English decades of strong, wise rule. Only in the light of Edward’s death five years later can it be seen as an over-optimistic false dawn, as the king’s’s untimely demise imperilled the Tudor dynasty and the independence of the nation. The king’s severe cold of February 1553 soon became a major chest infection – not the tuberculosis habitually diagnosed by modern commentators eager to typecast Edward as perpetually poorly. Today a chest infection would simply be treated with antibiotics; in 1553, however, it developed into the bronchial pneumonia which killed him. No tomb was ever made for Edward VI. Scrots’ allegorical portrait thus remains a rare and revealing memorial to this most tragic and misunderstood of sovereigns.
Dr. Steven Parissien, Director 7
© John Cleary photography
public and long-listed 20 museums from across the UK that they feel offer an outstanding welcome to families. Dea Birkett, Director, Kids in Museums said: “It’s great to see Compton Verney made it to the long-list for the Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award. We had more nominations than ever this year, so the competition was very tough. It’s a tribute to their commitment to being family friendly which means they’ve made it this far. Families particularly pointed out there were opportunities for very young children to enjoy the collection as well as grandparents. It’s a great achievement to welcome all ages. Good luck to the museum for the next stage.” We have also received several generous grants from Trusts and Foundations to assist in building our successful learning programme.
Sharing our passion for art; learning thrives at Compton Verney Compton Verney’s learning programme for school groups, families and adults offers a varied and rewarding range of activities and events with an emphasis on engagement with artworks and practical, hands on creative activities. We have recently had great success in receiving important grants towards furthering our programme, and have been short-listed for awards to recognise our achievements. Compton Verney have beaten off stiff competition from over 140 museums across the UK and secured a place on the Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award 2013 longlist. Volunteers from Kids in Museums, have sifted through thousands of comments from members of the 8
The Ratcliff Foundation has supported our Grounds Weekend on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 June, 11am-5pm which will include Falconry displays and Bird portraits, Forest school activities with trained leader Vix Curtlin, building a bird hide with the Grounds team, butterfly walks around the East Meadow and bee talks focusing on the new hives in the grounds. We've also been awarded £2,000 from the West Midlands Museum Development Fund towards Jo Robert’s visitor engagement during this year’s summer holiday. Jo, one of the artists exhibiting in the summer exhibition Re-Viewing the Landscape: A contemporary response, is the Contemporary Surveyor of Compton Verney, and has been working closely
The Learning team at work: Alice Kirk, Jo Essen and Moira Walters
© John Cleary photography
© John Cleary photography
The Rowlands Trust has kindly donated funds for the development of a new learning backpack for older children. This is in the process of being researched and assembled, and will be an exciting new backpack for early teens. We are working with work experience students and volunteers to put them together. Western Power Distribution have sponsored our popular Faces and Feelings schools programme, enabling primary school children to engage with the portraits in our collections.
with the Learning Department to produce a participatory response from members of the public. Jo will place red boxes at key viewpoints around the grounds and invite visitors to write a word in response to the landscape. These will be displayed on a large scale map in the gallery. Jo will also be on site two days a week to take visitors on creative walks around the ‘Capability’ Brown landscape, encouraging them to make sketches from viewpoints which direct attention towards the gallery and show off the idealistic features of the grounds. Follow her tweets throughout the summer, on @jovicrob #wheresjo
Our new Forest Schools programme, which has been supported by both the West Midlands Museum Development Fund and NFU Mutual, has proved extremely popular and was recently shortlisted for the 2013 Royal Forestry Society Schools Excellence Awards. We have received significant funding from The Princes Foundation for Children & The Arts Start Programme, to enable three local secondary schools to visit Compton Verney regularly for the next three years. These schools are not currently able to visit cultural institutions due to the expense of hiring transport, and this funding will enable 500 more secondary school students to experience Compton Verney every year.
PF Charitable Trust have awarded £2,000 towards Kate Da’Casto, artist-in-residence, a collaboration with Leicester Print Workshop. Alongside the exhibition Curious Beasts: Animal Prints from the British Museum, Leicester Print Workshop will be displaying a newlycommissioned Fantastical Animal Alphabet, and re-creating a working studio with a printing press on which Kate will demonstrate printing techniques. Kate will work in the studio two days a week to produce new work and to talk to visitors about her printing process and how the works on show have been produced. She will also run booked workshops in her studio for participants during October half term and the Winter Weekends. Read about her work here. Click here for more information about the Learning programme at Compton Verney.
“I wish Compton
Verney was in my garden, rating 10 out of 10!” Forest school taster day participant 2012
Have your say and help bring our landscape to life Compton Verney is in the process of preparing a £2.4 million bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to: Restore our 'Capability' Brown-designed
landscape and grade I listed Chapel, Create new welcome, interpretation and
informal learning facilities for visitors at the entrance to the site, Purchase the field directly opposite the mansion entrance to consolidate and protect the essential core of our precious ‘Capability’ Brown landscape and provide pathways and information about the plants and wildlife in the meadows, Commission a contemporary bridge to link the Ice House Coppice with the West Lawn as part of a new historic perimeter walk,
Morgan Jones, Volunteer Extraordinaire Recently awarded a grant from the Art Fund in order to travel to European museums to carry out research for our China redisplay, Morgan Jones tells us about his experience as a volunteer: My degrees (BA and MA) are in Chinese Literature, but my Master's degree in particular was focussed on the history and culture of bronze age China. I have also spent time living, working and studying in the PRC and Taiwan. After leaving school, I maintained a strong interest in early China, but work and family led me in other directions. Working at Compton Verney has allowed me to use what I have learned and inspired me to explore topics which were new to me, such as the history of bronze casting and decoration. I have worked in the Programming Department with Annelise Hone on a variety of projects related to the collections. This includes assembling a 'further information' guide for the galleries and discovery room, and maintaining and updating files relating to research, condition
Secure and develop the biodiversity of the
parkland, presenting it to and involving the visiting public, and linking it to the artistic purposes of Compton Verney, Increase community engagement, volunteering and traineeship opportunities with the support of additional staff. By using the Brownian landscape as a platform for the first time – its history , habitats and ecology as well as our Grade I listed Chapel - we can branch out to interact, instruct and engage as never before. By bringing together a range of interests – architecture, landscape, history, the environment, art and design, this project will allow us to engage with the wider community, including schools, colleges, families and new audiences in totally new ways.
But we need your help! Feedback from the public is an essential part of our application. Please visit our survey and tell us your thoughts on our plans and Compton Verney in general.
and conservation of the collections. It has been particularly pleasing to be able to contribute to the interpretation of the Chinese collection both formally and informally and acting as a resource for staff and visitors. I am very excited about working on a redisplay of the Chinese collection, which we are hoping to carry out in 2014-15, but for which planning and fundraising is already underway. When I first applied to be a volunteer I hoped to be able to work with the Chinese collection, but in all honesty, I thought I'd probably be asked to stuff envelopes. To be able to work on such interesting projects has been tremendously gratifying.
Morgan Jones, Volunteer (pictured above )
the remaining restoration work could be completed. 5 years later, and with a lot of lessons learnt, a very exhausted staff finally opened the doors once again to the public. Over the years the vision had grown beyond our wildest dreams and the result was absolutely astonishing. I cannot put into words the mixture of emotions that I felt on that first day. As I stood in the entrance hall waiting for HRH The Prince of Wales to arrive for the official opening I was bursting with pride and very nervous. We could hear the helicopter in the distance getting louder and louder, voices murmuring in the distance, then suddenly Prince Charles was in front of me shaking my hand. WE HAD MADE IT!
End of an era: Joan Broad retires When I was asked to write between 300 – 500 words about my time at Compton Verney I didn’t know where to begin as I could so easily write 300 – 500 pages, so fascinating has been my time here. I arrived at Compton Verney on 4 August 1997. My office, in the semi-derelict Butler’s cottage, was little more than a cupboard with the floor held up by Acro Props and being six inches lower in one corner due to dry rot – not for the faint of heart! With just three members of staff, including the Director, we started to empty boxes and equip the office. With Bovis still on site working their way through a lengthy snagging list, we were faced with the daunting task of creating a gallery in time
I feel very privileged to have played a part, albeit a small one, in the resurrection of Compton Verney. I have learnt about listed buildings, listed grounds and the importance of the Klargester! I have met many fascinating people such as artists, designers, architects, landscape architects, the wealthy and the worthy to name but a few. I have learnt about the fish in the lake, the trees in the park and the wildflowers in the meadow. I have met royalty, had a very memorable lunch with Quentin Blake, sailed down the lake in a gondola and cried with exhaustion when we opened to the public. I will miss Compton Verney greatly. More than anything, I will miss my colleagues when I retire. They really do feel more like family to me than workmates. Their support has been invaluable to me and I will miss them greatly. Thank you everyone and a very special thank you to Sir Peter for changing the course of my life. Joan Broad
for a ‘soft’ opening the following April. So began a race against time recruiting staff, buying office equipment, setting up service contracts and bringing the gallery and grounds up to scratch with the clock ticking.... I worked closely with the groundsman who, until then, had one set of gang mowers and very little else. With a great deal of hard work and optimism we, and the heavens, opened on time coinciding with the floods of the spring of 1998. Despite this, the opening was a great success and at the end of the season we closed for what we thought was one year so that
Joan, her husband Mike and Deputy Director Rachel Davies at our Michael Nyman concert summer 2004
Behind-the-Scenes at Compton Verney; Creating an Exhibition “Compton Verney continues to come up with exhibitions that are so inventively curated that they reveal fresh angles to otherwise familiar subjects.” The Guardian, 2011
Compton Verney has a deservedly high reputation for the quality of its temporary exhibitions which are the main driver of visits to the site. We present between two and six exhibitions a year and regularly initiate our own shows, some of which tour to other galleries. The realisation of an exhibition, from the initial idea through to the day of opening, can take anything from 18 months to 5 years, depending
on the project. Among the questions we ask ourselves when developing an idea are: will the exhibition encourage people to visit? Is it innovative – does it add to an understanding of the theme or artists involved, or give a new perspective? Can we afford it? As an independent museum without any statutory funding, the income we generate from ticket sales is vital, as is the money we are grateful to receive through charitable giving and sponsorship, which is becoming increasingly important. All exhibitions need an extensive period of research. Once the idea has been fully developed, and the art works have been identified and located, the next stage is to submit formal loan requests. The majority of loans come from public museums and galleries. Lending artworks between institutions fosters a spirit of collaboration, furthers research and helps to increase public access to collections. Loan requests to museums and galleries are made a minimum of six months in advance, and a persuasive argument must be made for borrowing an art work. Loan committees will assess our case for the importance and relevance of the work to the exhibition, as well as the wider role of the exhibition in furthering knowledge. They will also take into consideration competing loan requests, and conservation requirements – if works are fragile or sensitive to light, for example, their availability for loan will be limited. The work may also be of particular importance to the lender – institutions are naturally disinclined to part with their most popular works – so a strong case must be made. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they will ensure that the institution making the loan request meets the high standards of environmental conditions, security, insurance and transportation required for the proper care of the object. As well as borrowing from fellow museums and galleries, we also work directly with artists – sometimes commissioning new works from them and private lenders. There can be a bit of detective work involved in tracking down art works from private lenders, often with the help of commercial Left: Using the flip up door jambs in the Chinese gallery to
move large pieces
galleries and auction houses. This allows us to bring these works to a new audience – for example, the exhibition Alfred Wallis and Ben Nicholson (2011) featured a significant number of works that had rarely, if ever, been on public display, which helps to attract visitors. Once loans have been applied for, it is a question of waiting – sometimes weeks, sometimes months for either agreement or refusal. Developing an exhibition is very much a creative work in progress – the interpretation and the hang (what goes where and in what order) develops as the loans are agreed. Once the exhibition takes shape, the Curator will write the interpretation and wall labels, plan the hang, develop the look of the gallery (including paint colours and temporary walls) and work with a freelance designer to produce the exhibition graphics. Contact Jess here to see an example of what the labels and planning look like for our upcoming Turner and Constable exhibition. Alongside this, the logistical aspects of bringing the artworks to Compton Verney – including transportation and insurance – are made. This all involves a lot of paperwork! Plans will also be taking place for learning programmes, marketing, retail, operational and front of house requirements. The whole of the organisation is involved in realising a successful exhibition.
Finally, the graphics are installed by a freelance design team, which can take a number of days, and the lighting system is arranged to show off the works to their best. The exhibition is then ready for the staff tours, the press and private views, before finally opening to visitors, with the associated programme of talks, tours, events, activities and school visits. For some staff it is an ending, for others it is a beginning. Alison Cox Head of Programming
From top: Preparing the gallery, inspecting a loan, installing and artwork
The process of installing an exhibition takes up to three weeks. Once the works in the previous exhibition have been packed and returned to the lenders, the galleries are prepared and painted and then the installation of the next exhibition can begin. All art works must be transported using a registered fine art transporter, with secure climatecontrolled trucks. This represents one of the biggest financial commitments when planning an exhibition (especially if considering international loans), so the location of art works is taken into account from an early stage. In these financially restricted times, many galleries will apply for loans within a particular area – or even along particular routes so that only one vehicle is needed – in order to keep costs down. Installing an exhibition involves much of the Programming department, as well as a team of skilled freelance technicians, conservators and transport agents. Often a representative from the lending institution will accompany a work of art in transit and oversee installation in the gallery. The unpacking and installation of an art work is documented at every stage. The condition of the work is checked by a conservator before being installed under the direction of the Curator. 11
Compton Verney fundraising dinner, auction and musical evening,12 October 2013 Compton Verney is raising funds to restore and interpret its important ‘Capability’ Brown landscape, including our rare example of a Brown-designed building: the Grade I-listed Chapel of 1776-9.
Featured musicians will include Rob Colley, whose renditions of classical and jazz pieces at last September’s recital was so well received, and Ivo Stankov, a tremendously talented young violinist. This promises to be an exceptional evening with wonderful music, fabulous Aubrey Allen food and the opportunity to bid on once in a lifetime auction lots.
In order to preserve this valuable historic asset for our visitors and future generations, as well as interpret the ground-breaking nature of Brown’s design through the commissioning of contemporary art, we will be holding a gala dinner, auction and musical evening on 12 October 2013.
Individual tickets are available for £120 and tables of ten for £1,100. Advertising and sponsorship opportunities are available for corporate supporters.
Please support us so that we may:
Restore our Grade I-listed Chapel as a venue for art, learning and music.
Reinstate the ‘Capability’ Brown paths so that visitors can fully appreciate the sightlines that were so much a part of his design.
Commission a bridge spanning the lake to complete the circular walk around the site, as well as other visionary eye catchers in the landscape.
In addition to a wonderful evening in October, ticket holders for this event will be invited to a special private view of our blockbuster Moore and Rodin exhibition in 2014! Please contact Jessica Brown on 01926 645 547 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have further queries. To book a place click here or, if you would like to know more about sponsorship or advertising, click here. The event will take place from 6.30pm to 11pm, and the dress code is black tie. This is already proving to be a popular event, so do book now if you want to be sure to get a seat.
A Day in the Life: Sam Skillings, Head of Marketing There’s never a dull moment in the day to day life of the Head of Marketing. The job has a broad scope so you can be sitting at your desk writing a strategic plan one minute and then dashing off to the galleries with a TV crew the next. My day usually begins with checking my emails to see whether there are any that need my urgent attention. Journalists often work late and have tight deadlines so supplying images and additional information quickly is important to ensure we don’t miss any opportunities for coverage. Emails checked I’m dashing off to a meeting to discuss the next steps in our research project funded by Arts Council to help us find out more about those who do and don’t visit Compton Verney to help inform future business and marketing strategies. Back at my desk it’s time to get to grips with the quarterly report for the Governors where I share information about how we are performing against marketing targets. This includes everything from press coverage and the return on investment of the latest What’s on mailing, to website visits and social media interaction. Then I get a call from Tesco’s clubcard requesting the latest figures for the returns on their vouchers. This has been a great scheme for us and has the added benefit of our being able to claim back 50% of the face value of the vouchers from Tesco’s – every little helps! Just time for lunch and a chat with the front of house team to see how busy we are today and whether the visitors are in a good mood. Apparently someone today asked whether we can make the signs bigger about the wi-fi on the Ground Floor. I must make a note of this for the next on-site messaging meeting. After lunch it’s back to my desk to catch up on more emails and fend off a few sales calls. Having sent over our brand guidelines and logos to one of our touring partners for the Quentin Blake exhibition they’ve asked me to check their design for sign off. Thankfully it’s all ok. I dash down the other end of the office for a quick chat with Pam, our Commercial Supervisor, about a glitch in a new offer we’ve just added to the system so she can brief Admission and Retail Assistants.
Then there’s just time for a meeting to go through the copy and possible designs for the next What’s on, before sitting down with Sarah Moreby, our Marketing Officer, to look at the latest version of the new Collections pages for the website and check the figures on the recently revamped Grounds pages. I’m just about to shut my computer down when I realise I need to proof the family ebulletin ready to go out for the school holidays. I’m encouraged to see that more people have opted to receive this in recent months. This is great news as we get to have more regular contact and it saves significant money on postage. Off home now to put the finishing touches to my essay for the Post Graduate course I’m doing supported by Compton Verney and plan the journey to the Henry Moore Foundation to Perry Green tomorrow where we will meet our colleagues and get a preview of the amazing exhibition that will be coming to us in 2014 – can’t wait!
Sam Skillings, Head of Marketing
Why not upgrade? Please take a moment to consider upgrading your membership at Compton Verney. Your support is crucial to enable us to share our passion for art with as many people as possible. There are several quick and easy ways to upgrade your membership: By phone on 01926 645 547 By post via Compton Verney, FREEPOST NAT9520, Warwick CV35 9BR. By annual or quarterly Direct Debit with the Direct Debit form you can download here. Online at www.comptonverney.org.uk Or come visit and upgrade in the ticket lodge!
Thank you for your support Thank you to all our Benefactors, Patrons, Supporters and Corporate Members for your continued support. Your membership makes a huge difference to us and contributes towards all aspects of Compton Verney, from our exhibitions and collections to our grounds and educational work.
Benefactors Lady Goodhart Kirsten Suenson-Taylor Adrian and Jacqui Beecroft
Dr Catherine MS Alexander Alex and Mary Robinson Wyn Grant
The Four Pillars When you purchase a membership at any level and/or make a donation, you are welcome to specify an area of your own interest towards which your membership/ donation will contribute. Funds, and the kinds of things they supported in 2012, are:
The Exhibition Fund for our exhibitions and collections helped to reinstall our Enid Marx Collection.
The Adam Fund for our built heritage has contributed to the repair of the Adam Hall floor and plasterwork.
The Inspire Fund for art education has supported the development of a new outreach programme for schools.
The Capability Fund for our historic landscape has supported the lake maintenance and bulb planting.
Patrons David & Jill Pittaway David & Sandra Burbidge Mr and Mrs Roger Keverne Peter Gregory-Hood Roger Cadbury Lord & Lady Willoughby de Broke Mrs Susan Bridgewater Pam Barnes Dr & Mrs Munchi Choksey David & Catherine Loudon Sarah Stoten Mrs Joanne E Perry Mr & Mrs Ludovic de Walden
Supporters Mr & Mrs Peter KenworthyBrowne Clive Barnes Lady Butler Mr Peter Boycott Graham Greene CBE Jenny Grimstone Sarah Holman David Howells Howard & Melanie Jackson Bob & Sandy Marchant N Meades Dr James Mooney
William & Jane Pusey Paul Cooney Mrs Christine Archer PE Shirley Margaret Fraser Mrs Michael Markham Sir Martin & Lady Jacomb Victoria Peers The Brook Family Nicholas & Marie-France Burton Professor Robert Bluglass CBE & Dr Kerry Bluglass Bridget Barker and Simon Herrtage Richard Shore Mrs Penny Perriss Andrew & Julia Pick Michael Robarts Bill Slora Christopher Trye Sir Robert Wade-Gery Benjamin Wiggin Matt Broadhurst And 40 others who wish to remain anonymous, or have not yet specified how they would like to be listed.
For further information, or if you would like to support The Four Pillars of Compton Verney, please call Jess Brown on 01926 645 547 or donate on-line now via the Big Give.
Corporate Members Martinspeed Ltd Aquarelle Publishing Blackwall Green Fred Winter Ltd Goldcrest Cleaning Lightmedia Communications Ltd Mitchell Gallery Renaissance Creative Travel Club Elite
Wright Hassall George Pragnell Quilter Perrywell Computer Systems Ltd Larch Consulting Audley Binswood Hall Castleacre Insurance Harrison Beale & Owen James Butler Ltd
Other ways you can help Consider leaving us a legacy, organising an event or naming a tree, artwork or room for yourself or a loved one! Call 01926 645 547 or visit the website for more information.