10 January 2012

Richmond galleries

Once upon a time the councillors of Richmond upon Thames had a high opinion of themselves and built an impressive Town Hall on the riverside. Then they grew out of that and moved to a bigger newer building in Twickenham, also on the river.

That left the Town Hall in Richmond looking for a purpose. So it became a library. And a museum. And a gallery.

The library is in the middle of the sandwich occupying the first floor. It's just a library. There's nothing wrong with that but there are other places to get books or to access the internet so I have no reason for going there.

The Riverside Gallery occupies a couple of modest rooms on the ground floor.

The current exhibition has the enticing title Jem Panufnik: Riverside Robo-Attack!

For those of us old enough to remember, these pictures sweep you back to the days of underground comics when the likes of Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton exploded our minds with psychedelics legally.

As if to make the point, one of the pictures was a clear homage to Keep on Truckin'.

It's only a little gallery but it packs a reasonable punch and it's town centre location makes it an easy place to pop-in to.

Sneaking past the library to climb to the top floor takes you in to Richmond Museum.

This is about the same size and has the same cluttered feel as an attic. And it's in the attic.

The reason that I was charmed up the stairs was to see "a Georgian panorama of the Riverside between Richmond and Barn Elms".

This is a collection of 46 watercolour drawings covering 15 miles of the river in a single line that stretches 10m showing the Surrey bank on the top and the Middlesex bank at the bottom.

This section shows Syon House at the bottom facing Kew Gardens at the top. Neither has changed that much since Georgian times.

It's a fascinating display and the museum helpfully provides both magnifying glasses and mirrors so that you can get a close look at both banks.

This sort of local history appeals to me and the effort of the climb was amply rewarded.

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