Over the summer of 2011 two Art History students; Holly Lambeth-Fradgeley and Hannah Fisher will be working with Worcester City Museum and Art Gallery on an archive relating to the late Catherine Moody. Ms Moody, who passed away recently, was a Malvern artist who was long known to the Museum. Holly and Hannah will document their progress as a blog as they get to know both the archive and the artist.
Today we met Diane Jenkins, former secretary of Malvern Art Club (M.A.C) of which Catherine and her father had been presidents. She was very interested to see our collection and talk to us about her memories of the Moody Family as she knew them well. She had M.A.C. exhibition catalogues to show us, including the centenary celebrations where works by former M.A.C presidents were shown. Mrs Jenkins has also kindly invited us to her home to see more of her extensive collection relating to the Moody Family to see if anything is of interest to the gallery.
Week on week we are finding more people who had known Catherine. A friend of my mother’s, is a member of the Malvern Writer’s Circle, as was Catherine. She has loaned me a brief autobiography of Catherine and one of her books ‘A Silhouette of Malvern’. I hope to meet with her for a more in depth conversation about Ms Moody’s association with the Writer’s Circle.
We spent the majority of the day beginning to catalogue the extensive collection of slides we have. Due to their immense quantity we have catalogued each box, with the number of slides and their subject matter. To label each slide would have been extremely time-consuming! Hannah had brought her slide viewer along which helped immensely, giving us a clear view of the slides. They were mainly photos of Victor’s paintings and exhibitions containing his work, as well as lectures and parties. But there were also some more personal photos, ones Catherine had taken of her garden, and even some self portraits. This was a pleasant surprise and made us feel closer to Catherine than before. Amongst the slides we found a rare photograph of a still life painting by May Olive Moody, Catherine’s mother. Diane explained to us that May had been an artist too, but after the birth of her daughter she seemed to cease painting.
In the afternoon we were given the opportunity to explore the stores in the basement of the gallery. The gallery owns two pastels by Catherine; ‘The Great Hall at Madresfield Court’ one of her finest works, and a quick sketch of Richard Dunstan giving a painting demonstration at Malvern Art School – just like one of the many photos of his lectures we had catalogued last week! This piece was the only one the gallery managed to purchase at the Phillip Serrell auction. There were also two portraits by Victor Moody; one of Mrs Tysoe, former head at Sunnyside School in nearby Barbourne and one of another lady, the photo of which we’d come across last week, but her name escaped us! It was great seeing the real ones after only seeing reproductions previously, we could really appreciate the skill both father and daughter possessed.
We all very much enjoyed our tour of the stores, catching glimpses of paintings and exploring the labyrinth of drawers making up the natural history collection. Garston and Deborah showed us some beautiful butterflies and we had a good giggle at all the bizarre Victorian taxidermy. On a more serious note we learnt about the museum’s stringent selection process when people offer them items for their collection, they just don’t have enough room to take everything! Items must have particular significance and of course be relevant to the Worcester City area. They also explained how collections that are over one hundred and fifty years old are still being used today for research purposes, for example, to monitor the decline of wildlife species.
Blog written by Holly Lambeth-Fradgley: currently on a gap year and going to study History of Art and Design (Contemporary Art History) at Manchester Metropolitan University in September 2011.