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Collection Reflection: Ethel Guymer


10 June 2020 2:00 pm

In this week’s Collection Reflection, Assistant Learning Curator Alice Hornby takes a look at work held within the Middlesbrough Collection by artist Ethel Guymer.

Bulbs is an oil painting on board by artist Ethel Guymer and was presented as part of the Middlesbrough Collection in 1974. It is a piece that evokes great familiarity for me.

This visual unpacking of the work is an abstract take on Bulbs based on conversations with my family around the work.

Familiar yet not, purples greens and pinks. I can smell spring, almost summer taking me to faraway Mediterranean places, the stripes of the table cloth in a restaurant I visited last summer.

The evidence that the ground is softening, life is coming back into earth and the nights are getting longer.

Are they onions someone asked? Tiny green shoots appear at the tip of the bulbs.

The seasons continue to go full steam ahead despite being tucked away in a drawer in the shed since last summer.

Plant 6cm into the soil and 10cm apart, shoots appear from nowhere some are wonky some are straight they break through at different times some don’t break through at all.

Fabric slightly faded from years of use years of taking up residence in our old shed but the bulbs they glisten as if there had been a fresh April shower dancing on their surface.

Once you have your new home in the ground there you will stay and rise from the softening soil year in year out without fail, a reminder of the changing seasons, a marker of time.


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