Art talk with Dr Mark Banting

Friday night was abuzz with art talk at the Alchemy Gallery last week. TFEA Trustees and guests welcomed Dr Mark Banting to illuminate and provoke discussion of the art works currently on display from the Basildon Arts Trust Collection. On the theme of 'Sensation of Place' Dr Banting took us on a journey through 19th and 20th Century art, guiding by the concept of genius loci or spirit of place evoked in the artworks.

First up was comparisons between the higgledy piggledy lines of Graham Clark's Spudding, which reminded many of plotland style dwellings that existing in the Basildon area in the pre New Town era, against the futurisic perspectives of Basil Spence's Proposed Plan for Basildon Town Centre (1955). 

From here we deciphered the spectral qualities of Edward Bawden's Palace of Westminster, considering the darkly imposing weight of history, democracy and empire that is drawn from the uninhabited view of the building. 

Then, a meditation on the calm of Colin Self's The Isle of Arran (1975-6) produced while on retreat in the Scottish Western Isles that marked a more tranquil period of his painting after the pop era of 60's London. 

Last up was a look again at Barbara Hepworth's 'Autumn Shadow' as we speculated on her inspiration drawn from the view from her kitchen window over a Conish bay. 

In conclusion, we thought to reassess what is the genius loci of the Basildon borough? and the contrasting uniqueness of the town as both a rural retreat from the city, and a dynamic vision of the future. These are not idle abstract concepts, but prevalently real as Basildon prepares for a new era in the run up to regeneration. TFEA hopes the BAT Collection can play an important role in understanding and defining the future identity of the town in an active way.

We would like thank Mark greatly for encouraging us to look again at the artworks, and hope he can join us again in the future for more evenings like this.  


Link to Dr Mark Banting's blog -

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Design for Basildon New Town, Sir Basil Spence, 1955


Spudding, Graham Clark