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Art Wanderings: Seurat to Riley at Compton Verney

Patterns, pointillism and op art



Compton Verney Art Gallery
Exhibition: Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception.
Travel time from London: 2.5-3 hours
Cost: £15 with Gift Aid.


The Venue:

Compton Verney Art Gallery came into being thanks to the commendable charity efforts of Littlewoods sport betting fortune-holder the late Sir Peter Moores, Wikipedia tells me. It's a lovely old stately home that has been nicely restored complete with surrounding gardens and parkland that offer a bit of outdoor oxygenation time to mix in with the gallery visit.

The Art:


I got the idea to go this from a rave review (The Sunday Times, £) by an art critic whose verdict I trust. As I previously blogged, my favourite sort of art is generally modern, abstract and involving lots of interesting shapes, so naturally I really enjoyed this exhibition. It does a great job of demonstrating what optical art is and offers a pleasing evolution from black and white sketches through to riots of neon colour thanks to a well curated sequence. Among my favourites were the endearing optical inversion of M.C. Escher (top), the gorgeous coloured boxes of Victor Vasarely, (middle), and the colours on the wall of the gallery itself commissioned from German abstractionist Lothar Götz (bottom). Amusingly, once you have finished enjoying squinting at the paintings which in some cases offer additional colours or alternate visuals from different viewpoints, your eyes hurt. "How was the art gallery? Oh my eyes ache terribly, it was marvellous" :-)


The Pubs :

Banbury has a few choices for a pre- or post-painting tipple. The most central option is Wild Lime, (top), a chain pub that would probably be a bit grim if not for the nice garden out front. Much better is the garden at The Old Auctioneer, (middle), although the table service feels a bit pointless for a gastro-beer garden and it's quite slow. The Pinto Lounge, (bottom), is cheerier and you can get a pint much more quickly. All three only had a handful of craft beers between them so you do have to slum it a tad. Wild Lime has Ghost Ship on tap and not much else that doesn't have a listing on the stock exchange, while the Old Auctioneer has Caledonian Brewery's various mediocre beers and the Pinto Lounge has Lawless lager.


The Journey:

If you're looking for ideas for a quick trip to an art gallery, you're in the wrong place. Not that it's all that far away from London, but it requires a measure of committment from the average non-car using Londoner. The 1-hourish train from Marylebone to in Banbury is simple enough, they run every half hour or so, but then you have to add in a 1-hour bus ride that meanders through the oxfordshire/warwickshire countryside as if saying hello to every house between the train station and the gallery, which it pretty much does. Still, good value at £8 for a day ticket which you can buy on your phone or pay contactless on board. Where the bus falls down is on the timetable, (above) which looks like a stale yellow apple someone's taken a giant bite out of. Unless you happen to be there on a Sunday or Bank Holiday, a taxi back to Banbury from the gallery is a flat fare of £20 with 007 Cars Banbury.

The Verdict:

Great show and great day out. They should build a railway to it tho :-)

Posted by BillLehane 08:27 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged art trains london paintings england travel uk modern galleries blogs optical banbury daytrips warwickshire

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