Spotlight On: Penny Grist

29th April 2021 / Museum, Museum blog

Our Spotlight On blogs and vlogs introduce thirteen of the artists featured in exhibition ‘Spotlight On: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Collection of Chippenham Museum’.  The second in a series, the exhibition presents 40 works acquired in the last five years to ensure our collection better represents North Wiltshire’s creativity, with the majority of works donated by the artists.

Please introduce yourself: What is your name, where are you based, what medium/style do you work in?

My name is Penny Grist. I live in a village just outside Bath and work at Bath Spa University in the School of Art and Design. I’m a printmaker and painter.

Why did you want to be involved with this project?

I wanted to support Chippenham Museums’ inspired idea to put together a collection of work made in this area, including work from tutors and students at Bath Academy of Art, where I was a student from 1979-83.

How did you decide which piece to donate to the museum and can you tell us more about it?

I chose a landscape-based piece to reflect the importance that studying at Corsham and living in the countryside has had on my life. I have been interested in visual maps since seeing Common Ground’s Parish map project when I was at college. ‘Ditchling Common’ was made for a residency at the Museum of Art and Craft in Ditchling, near Brighton. It represents a piece of land at the heart of an artistic community. The Common is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), and this print documents the habitat, plants, moths and butterflies found there.

Ditchling Common, letterpress print, 2016

It was made using letterpress type from the print workshop at Bath Spa University, which I used when I was a student and now teach others to use. The background grid is printed from the backs of wooden type and represents the square divisions of a map. Ditchling Common has a stream, printed using a decorative border, and a pond, printed using two big wooden ‘O’s. The names of the indigenous flora are printed in green, the moths and butterflies that are drawn to this habitat are printed in dark grey, and the ghost of the moth that is now extinct, The Brighton Sober, is printed in pale grey.

Why do you think having public access to local art is so important, such as through this new collection being created at Chippenham Museum?

It is really important that art is accessible to everyone. Art that reflects and is influenced by our local environment helps us to connect with our surroundings and see things in a different light.


Why do you think North Wiltshire has such a creative culture?

Like moths, lots of creatives were drawn to this area by Bath Academy of Art and have stayed on to live in this beautiful place, which has been an inspiration to many artists over the years.


‘Spotlight On: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Collection of Chippenham Museum’ is free to visit 17 May – 19 June. Open Monday – Saturday with two ways to visit:  drop in 10am – 1pm or book a free Private View for up to six people or two households at 1pm, 2pm or 3pm. 


> Visit Chippenham Museum

> View all artist blogs

> Exhibition Catalogue (£5) available in the museum shop and online