Fabulous free images from British Library

British Library offers over 1 million free vintage images for download.

News story here.

Have a play with the British Library Flickr site here.

My name in fabulous typography.
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Ken Hughes. A growing legacy.

A while ago I wrote a blog about artist Ken Hughes because I owned a sculpture by him. I commented at the time that he seemed to have had a successful artistic life but that there was little about him out there.

I had assumed that Ken Hughes was no longer alive. Then a researcher contacted me via my blog. Then his daughter contacted me. And Ken is still alive.

I also discovered I have another piece of ceramics by Ken. A plaster tile, also purchased by my grandma.

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Ken Hughes, tile, 1996

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Tile, reverse, signed 'Ken Hughes'

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Provenance, my grandma's note

This morning I got into work to find a lovely two page hand written letter from Ken. He said that maybe he hadn’t undertaken as much self-publicity as he should have. I wrote back (not hand-written I am afraid) reflecting that maybe those of us that come after should all help towards creating a legacy.

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Museums. An elaborate tapestry.

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“Here was an elaborate tapestry of institutions of national and local importance woven over two hundred years.”

Robert Hewison, Cultural Capital: The Rise and Fall of Creative Britain, 2014.

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Happy 2nd Birthday to @MuseumofCarpet!

Happy 2nd Birthday to Museum!.

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Hartlebury Castle’s future secured with help of Heritage Lottery Fund

Hartlebury Castle’s future secured with help of Heritage Lottery Fund.

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Hellens Manor. A proper heritage eccentric.

A visit to Hellens, a Jacobean manor house in Herefordshire, was such a delight and produced so many pictures, I felt a blog was the thing.

To start. Some serious door knockers.

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The toilets were a mini-museum in their own right.

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Impressive architecture. Also a big ginger cat.

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Textiles feature large. In paintings, on the floor, on the beds, and framed as art.

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Hellens has a varied collection, paintings by famous painters (many given as gifts to family members), personal objects (old and not-so-old), unusual and miscellaneous items collected from antique shops in this country and others. A taster follows.

Proper feather shuttlecocks of blue and white.

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A quite disturbing reliquary.

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A selection of things that caught my eye as “very museum”. A cabinet of curiosity, containing personal objects of family significance. A little collection of shells on a bedroom dressing table. A botany book with the fabulous handwritten label, “Forgive us, please, for asking you not to touch this book as it is very worn – so sorry”. Lovely.

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This somewhat surprising ceiling was the result of, “the boys messing around in the 60s”. Yeah. Messing…

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Fabulous tooled and painted leatherwork wall coverings. Somewhat the worse for wear, but gaining aesthetic interest with that.

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We were allowed to sit on most of the seats. Unless (as per tradition)… teasels.

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I enjoyed this unapologetic cellar door repair.

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In addition to the cat, there were a number of unexpected creatures. I especially liked the topiary dogs (?) and the giraffe tapestry (made by a French prisoner we were told).

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More about Hellens. I recommend a visit.

FIN

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Ken Hughes. An artist’s life. But what legacy?

This little plaster sculpture of a female head belonged to my Grandma, Mary Cockett. She lived in a sewing box (the head not my Grandma…) for several years. Recently I rediscovered her.

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She’s by an artist called Ken Hughes.

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I also have a catalogue for a Ken Hughes exhibition at Browse & Darby, London, 1995. Possibly where my Grandma bought the sculpture. I hadn’t opened the catalogue until now.

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Inside the catalogue was a folded photocopy.

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On the other side was a hand written letter to my Grandma from the artist. He tells her that the head was based on Dance in Baden-Baden by Max Beckmann, 1923.

The original painting is at Museum Frieder Burda.

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Ken Hughes taught at Bath Academy of Art, Corsham. References to him online are few. Luckily the catalogue has a lot of information. It lists a number of exhibitions including Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery (1969). It also lists work in Public Collections including, my museum, Birmingham City Art Gallery (now Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery).

One catalogue and object file search later I find the The Well Made Play, Wooden Construction, Sculpture, 1969, 1973P110. Here it is. In black and white. Because that was museum photography in the 1970s.

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Here’s the press release saying it was funded by the Friends of Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery and the rather fabulous sounding Provincial Galleries Sculpture Purchase Scheme (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation).

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Nice.

But somewhat sobering for artists. Ken Hughes appears to have had a successful long career. Yet he is little known now.

FIN

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