A SELECTION of items from Swindon's prized art collection have found a new home at the council's civic building.

The pop-up art exhibition, which represents the second phase of Swindon Borough Council’s Art on Tour project, officially opened at the civic offices yesterday. It features work by some of Britain’s most important painters, as well as artists with a strong connection to Swindon and Wiltshire.

The Art on Tour project, which kicked off at the Steam Museum in September, sees the council displaying Swindon’s art collection at various locations around the town in a bid to bring the work to a wider audience.

The collections are currently housed at the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery on Bath Road, but the museum’s potential for reaching a wide audience is considered to be limited, with space at a premium and school visits not being easy to accommodate.

The success of the Steam exhibition convinced the council to display more artworks at another location – and the civic offices on Euclid Street have been deemed the perfect place.

Eighteen paintings are currently on show at the civic offices and include work by, among others, Claude Francis Barry, Roger Fry, Sylvia Gosse and Desmond Morris, whose abstract portrait of Swindon actress Diana Dors is on display.

Also featured is David Bent’s contemporary digital collage ‘Mr & Mrs Aerobot and Babybot’, which was acquired by the museum in 2017 as part of a project to celebrate Wiltshire artists. A colourful seascape of Studland Bay in 1911 and Claude Francis Barry’s striking wartime painting of Tower Bridge silhouetted by search lights, which was presented to Swindon in 1946 by local business man Frederick Charles Phelps, are among the other highlights.

The pieces will be on display for the next six months and are free to view when the civic offices are open.

Cabinet member for the town centre Dale Heenan said: “I have always said that art should be seen and it’s a real shame to think that these important pieces aren’t reaching the audiences they deserve.

“I would like to issue a massive thank you to everybody who has been involved in putting these travelling exhibitions together and I would encourage as many people as possible to head down to the Civic, free of charge, to see the paintings.”

To find out more about the Art on Tour project, contact swindonmag@swindon.gov.uk