Visiting Pleasant Land from June 2021
As of 21 June 2021, pre-booked visitors are warmly welcomed at the Nemon Studio Museum and Archive at Pleasant Land between Oxford and Abingdon, on the last Saturday afternoon of every month, providing new Covid restrictions are not introduced. Further details are below. Nemon lived and sculpted here from the 1940s until his death in 1985. Famous for his portraits of Churchill and Freud, and originally from Yugoslavia, now Croatia, Nemon came to Britain as an émigré, and then Jewish refugee, in the 1930s.
The Nemon Studio Museum is surrounded by trees and fields off a quiet lane on Boars Hill, twenty minutes drive from the centre of Oxford. The Studio hosts a re-creation of Nemon’s working studio, where visitors can learn how sculptures are made and cast.
There is also a display of his works from 1925-39, when Nemon lived in Vienna then Brussels. Nemon sculpted Freud and Lindberg during this period, and experimented with Symbolism, Cubism and Constructivism.
The Nemon Archive is sited in an extension to Nemon’s former home, Pleasant Land. This dramatic, modernist house rises between the trees of its wild garden. The Archive displays and stores drawings. reliefs, correspondence and other materials, as well as those works which do not form part of the current themed Studio exhibition.
Hand cast resin and bronze resin busts of Churchill, Freud, Montgomery and Winnicott are on sale to raise funds for the upkeep of Nemon’s works, along with a selection of bronze medals re-cast from 1930s originals. Parking is available on site. The Nemon Studio Museum is accessible to disabled visitors, and the Archive has a single step. Please raise any queries regarding access beforehand.
FREE SATURDAY AFTERNOON VISITS BOOKING DETAILS AND CALENDAR
Following the scheduled lifting of Covid restrictions on 21 June 2021, the Nemon Studio Archive and Museum will be open on the last Saturday afternoon of every month from 2 to 5.30 for free drop-in visits with complimentary tea or coffee and light refreshments, with the option of donating towards the upkeep of the centre. The first Saturday will be 26 June, followed by 31 July, 28 August, 25 September, 30 October, and 27 November. Visitors are asked to book on the calendar to avoid overcrowding and give everyone the space to enjoy what’s on offer.
To maintain a safe environment for us all, the visit to the Nemon Studio Museum will be divided into two sections, both with short explanatory talks recorded by curator and family member Alice Hiller, and played from a speaker to contextualise the displays. Alice will also be on hand to welcome guests and answer questions. One section explores Nemon’s creative process, and how his works were made in the studio. The other looks at his beginnings as a sculptor, in Vienna and then the Brussels years where he realised his mature style.
There will then be the option of taking complimentary tea or coffee and light refreshments in either the separate Nemon Archive, where there are comfortable chairs and sofas, or outdoors the garden. This allows impressions of the visit to settle, and the opportunity to enjoy the peaceful environment. Most visitors spend around an hour and a half at Pleasant Land.
Pre-booked visits for paying groups are also warmly welcome, but these need to be agreed in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 07766 751 960
Address: Pleasant Land, The Ridgeway, Boars Hill, Oxford OX1 5EY.
Getting there: For visitors without cars, there is no longer public transport to Boars Hill, but taxis can be booked from Oxford or Abingdon costing approximately £20. Visitors can equally walk up from the bus stop in Wootton village, which takes approximately 30 minutes.
Selected to design the profile used on the Churchill Crown after Churchill’s death in 1965, Nemon’s interest in the relief in fact went back to his beginnings as a sculptor. His first major public commission, awarded in 1927 when he was 21, was for a portrait of Dr Ante Aksamovic, Bishop of Djakovo.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s Nemon continued to create small 5cm portrait reliefs and medals in bronze – including Lindbergh and Freud – a selection of which are now held by the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
During the 1930s, Nemon began additionally to experiment with figurative compositions which were moulded and drawn in clay, and then cast into plaster and painted. He continued to work on these privately after the second world war, when his public work became more focused on portraiture. Returning to the colours of the Croatian coast, and the blues and greens of the Adriatic sea, these reliefs were found in the studio at Pleasant Land after Nemon’s death, and shown to the public for the first time when the studio was open in 2003.