Bolton Library and Museum Services

Art at Home

Art at Home 1 - Drawing

More information here.

Don't forget the online art resources in our eLibrary!


Art at Home 2 - Collages

In our second instalment of sketching at home we look at the work of Julian Trevelyan who produced a different kind of drawing using collage.

Find out more about Trevelyan and his collages here.

Art at Home 3 - What Can I Sketch?

Can a camera or a smartphone serve as a sketchbook? 


This is a photograph by Humphrey Spender. It was taken in Bolton in 1937.  Spender said that his practice as a photographer was based on ‘the acceptance of what is there, what is all around one to be discovered – to be discovered with patience and observation.’

There are lots of lovely crisscrossing lines in Spender’s photograph of someone pegging up washing on a line. There are great contrasting areas of dark and light, black, white and grey. It could almost be a sketch in pencil or pen.     

The artist Cornelia Parker has said that ‘My iPhone has always been my sketchbook.’ Here are five things you could capture with your smartphone:

Spoons, knives and forks drying by the kitchen sink

Sunlight falling on a houseplant

A found object (something strange or surreal discovered by chance)

Washing line (if you have one)

A pair of old shoes or trainers


Art at Home 4 - John Robert Cozens' Palazzo Vecchio

This watercolour by John Robert Cozens of the Boboli Gardens in Florence features in the current display in the art gallery. The display is called The Art of Noticing and is a celebration of art’s ability to draw our attention to things in the world. 

Even though this painting was made over two hundred years ago, it’s still possible to imagine what it was like to stand in this spot, looking across the gardens to the Palazzo Vecchio (the town hall of Florence). There is, just now, the artist seems to be saying, no place on earth exactly like this. This garden, and the tree rising-up in the foreground, is totally unique, and there is great value in that fact. And, for this reason alone, is worth paying attention to.

Inspiration for acts of slow, patient looking like John Robert Cozens’ can come from just about anywhere. One of the museum staff has chosen this tree in her garden. There is nothing particularly extraordinary about the tree but looking at it and drawing it make it special. 

Palazzo Vecchio from the Boboli Gardens, Florence, late 1700s by John Robert Cozens

Art at Home 5 - Painting by Gillian Ayres

Can a painting lift your mood?  If any picture can, it is one of Gillian Ayres’ vibrant abstract paintings. 

Ayres’ paintings celebrate the physical act of applying paint. Looking at this picture from the museum’s permanent collection, you can almost imagine her flicking the acrylic paint across the paper. Her paintings are also celebrations of the life-affirming properties of colour. Ayres said that “To me, colour in art is wonderfully indulging. I don’t see why you shouldn’t be filling yourself up, making yourself happy.” What colours can you spot in this painting? 

You can see more of Gillian Ayres’ incredible paintings on the ArtUK website.


Art at Home 6 - Our Art Collection Told Through Famous Stories

This afternoon we take a look at your art collection through the medium of literature.



Art at Home 7 - Art from the Second World War

To mark the 75th anniversary of  VE Day, we have selected some Second World War art from the Museum collection.

Thomas Hennell’s quick on-the-spot sketch, ‘Troops marching inland from the beaches, 1944’, documents the event that signalled the beginning of the end of war in Europe – D-Day. 

‘Troops in a field near Thaxted, Essex’, by another official war artist, Albert Richards, dates from an earlier period in the war. It was painted around 1940 while Richards was in training with the Royal Engineers. Tragically, both Richards and Hennell were killed in the final year of the war. 

Troops marching inland from the beaches, 1944

Thomas B. Hennell (1903-45) 


Troops in a Field /Camouflaged Vehicles, near Thaxtead, 1940

Albert Richards (1919-1945) 


Shipbuilding on the Clyde – Burners, 1940

Stanley Spencer (1891-1959)


Devastation: East End Factory Ventilation Shaft, 1941

Graham Sutherland (1903-1980)


Art at Home 8 - Looking Again at Thomas Moran's Nearing Camp

For this Art at Home our curator of art Matthew Watson tells the fascinating story of one of our best known paintings, "Nearing Camp" by Bolton-born artist Thomas Moran.To read a transcript of the talk please click here.



Art at Home 9 - Looking Again at Vanessa Bell's View into a Garden

For this Art at Home our curator of Art Matthew Watson explores the ideas and relationships behind Bell's beautiful painting. To read a transcript of the talk please click here.