Home to some amazing art galleries, museums that span computers and railways and events celebrating literature, beer and diversity, Swindon’s art and culture scene is alive and very much kicking!
Culture in Swindon
It’s not the biggest, nor the most striking of the town’s cultural centres, but Swindon Museum and Art Gallery houses an important collection of modern British art. It’s definitely worth a visit, particularly if you’re already in Old Town and you have a couple of hours to spare.
In total, the collection consists of nearly 1,000 works of art and sculpture. You’ll find a variety of paintings from the likes of Ben Nicholson, Howard Hodgkin, Vanessa Bell, Gillian Ayres and Richard Hamilton. There are also works from Henry Moore, Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach.
If you want to see what our local artists are up to, try Swindon Artists Forum in the Brunel Centre. It showcases the works of a group of artists from the area, whether that’s original paintings, print, or sculptures. All styles are covered from traditional, right the way through to abstract. It’s a friendly place, and there something to suit all price ranges.
Oink Gallery is a great little contemporary art gallery and design space on Victoria Road, in Old Town. It hasn’t been open for very long but its collection of fine art, jewellery, furniture and gifts have made it a popular place with art-savvy Swindonians. The gallery showcases the work of more than a dozen UK artists, including Stanley Donwood whose fame – in part – can be attributed to his work with Radiohead, creating each of their albums’ artwork since 1994.
During the first fortnight of May, the town’s literary community comes alive when The Swindon Festival of Literature takes over much of the town. If you have any preconceptions about literature festivals – that they can be elitist or cliquish – Swindon’s is different. It’s for people of all ages and backgrounds, and has hosted a wide selection of guest speakers, including David Attenborough, Ian McEwan, Jon Snow and Philip Pullman. It’s fun, and there’s always some great entertainment on offer.
Swindon & Wiltshire Pride Parade has been celebrating diversity and freedom for over a decade now. It takes place in either July or August in the Town Gardens, with a great programme of artists and performers taking to the Bowl Stage throughout the day and is always fun, vibrant and brings the local community together.
If you’re visiting Swindon in October, and you’re partial to a pint, be sure to check out the Swindon CAMRA Beer Festival. It takes over the STEAM Museum, and attracts thousands of people with the promise of three days of the region’s best beers and ciders.
To find out all things historical and educational in the region, head to our Swindon museums page for the lowdown on the STEAM railway museum and the Museum of Computing.