Spotlight On: Sheona Beaumont

26th May 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.

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

I’m Sheona Beaumont, and I live in Sherston near Malmesbury. My practice is in photography and writing, straddling both creative and academic work. I love photography history, and the way that its technology is a layered thing – so as well as taking pictures, I work with found images and interlace them digitally in various ways. I also write about photography’s connections with faith and religion, as seeing has so many elements of believing.

Why did you want to be involved with this project?

To be identified with a local tribe of fellow creatives. Given that Wiltshire is so rural, and that the hubs for artists to experience community are especially thin on the ground at the moment, the opportunity to rub shoulders with like-minded others was too good to miss. I’m also on a bit of a quest to champion more thoughtful engagement with (and appreciation of) photography itself – everybody takes pictures these days, but it has imaginative possibilities and historical depths that I really want to share.

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

There’s a thread in my work that has followed the River Avon upstream – I moved to Sherston from Lacock, having lived in Bristol for a number of years prior to that. Night Tide Under Clifton Suspension Bridge in way represents the beginning of that journey: it’s a long exposure shot taken on a night when the tide on the Avon (from the Severn) was at its highest of the year. The piece is part of a series about the Bristol landscape which, in 2010, was the subject of over 30 composite photographs. I keep working with images through time (seasons, tides, hours, views, years), and this one records the light trails created both by other objects in motion (cars and water), and by the Bridge seen through a staggered zoom.


Night Tide Under Clifton Suspension Bridge, photographic print, 2010

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’s part of a whole eco-system for artists and their public – arts trails and exhibitions are one good thing (the Peacock Arts Trail around the Corsham area is a brilliant example), but a public collection demonstrates a third-party commitment to professional creativity, for a common good. As well as being a donor, I’m the public too, and I think there’s a lot to be said for the interactions this kind of access encourages.

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

Because it is nothing less than the birthplace of photography! I almost can’t sit still for this question – William Henry Fox Talbot invented the negative/positive process at Lacock Abbey in the 1830s, and his book ‘The Pencil of Nature’ takes off in all directions at once with ideas. Ideas people are always around us, but sometimes in history something revolutionary crystallises and changes everything. That happened here – right here! – and its effects are global. Not just for visual media, but for the way we all understand our world and each other. I’m going to say it’s probably something in the water…

‘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. 


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