Wokingham 3 visit highlights 2022

As we slide into a wet autumn and the days are getting shorter and darker (but only until Christmas!) here is a reminder of a few of our visits in 2022.

We started the year with a visit to the Lightbox in Woking to see Bridget Riley – Pleasures of Sight, a retrospective exhibition of the work and working methods of one of our most important contemporary female artists, arranged to celebrate her 90th birthday this year. We were able follow her exploration of colour, structure and perception from the 1960s to the present day, revealing fresh and new ways of seeing.

On 1 March we visited the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford for Pissarro Father of Impressionism, an exhibition of the work of Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), known to his fellow Impressionist painters as ‘father Pissarro’. Using works from the Ashmolean’s collections supplemented by international loans, the exhibition covered the entire career of this central figure in Impressionism. He was the only artist to exhibit at all eight Impressionist exhibitions between 1874 and 1886. The 120 works on display – 80 by Pissarro – were supplemented by material from the Ashmolean’s Pissarro archive which was donated to the Museum on the death of his son Lucien, a skilled wood engraver who lived in England from 1890 until his death in 1944. More information on the Ashmolean’s Impressionist paintings can be found here: https://www.ashmolean.org/pissarro-gallery and a review of the exhibition here: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2022/feb/16/pissarro-father-of-impressionism-ashmolean-museum-oxford

Our April visit took us to the Stanley Spencer Museum in Cookham for Delight in Nature an exploration of the influence of the natural world on the paintings of Stanley Spencer. Taking inspiration from his birthplace, the Berkshire village of Cookham the ‘earthly paradise’ in which he spent most of his life, these works recorded in meticulous detail the beauty of the place. Although he later derided the still life and nature paintings as ‘potboilers’ – they were easily sold to raise much needed finance at the time of his divorce – they also informed his visionary narrative paintings. https://stanleyspencer.org.uk/

Early in June eight of us spent a day exploring Chalfont St Peter, a lovely town made particularly interesting by having to follow a Treasure Trail as we got to find out more about our surroundings. Our excellent organiser had ordered perfect weather (thank you Yvonne), and we very much enjoyed seeing the church, the clock tower, and the allotments among other sights in this pleasant location.  But a moment that made us stop briefly was hearing a primary school rehearing their singing for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.  We had such a busy day we forgot to take any photographs!

August found us at the Rural Life Living Museum at Tilford where we had a fascinating day exploring the re-located historic buildings, agricultural implements and the ‘we had one of those’ items from the recent past.

We rounded off the summer with a visit to the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens at Ampfield in Hampshire. The weather was perfect, still quite warm but no rain and the hydrangeas were beautiful despite the drought. The gardens cover 180 acres with more than 42,000 trees and shrubs, and were established in 1953 by Sir Harold who left it under the Trusteeship of Hampshire county Council in 1977.

On our way back to the car park we spotted an enormous bright green elephant hawk moth caterpillar, much to the enjoyment of some passing children; fortunately a member of staff rescued it from the path.