A Lifetime of Collecting Reflected in Automobilia

Toovey’s specialist Gordon Gardiner with an array of Automobilia from the forthcoming auction

Toovey’s are holding a specialist auction of Automobilia which will include pieces from the late Alistair Morris’ collection.

Alistair Morris grew up in Horsham. His career in the auction world began at King & Chasemore in 1978. The salerooms merged with Sotheby’s the following year and Alistair would eventually become managing director of Sotheby’s Sussex. An avid collector from his childhood, he built up the collectors’ department at Sotheby’s. His celebrated book Antiques from the Garden was published in 1996.

Specialist, enthusiast and collector, Alistair Morris

His great friend Gordon Gardiner comments “Alistair and myself wrote numerous Antique Collectors’ Club books together whilst working at Sotheby’s, it was great fun. After the success of our book on Toys I suggested we do one on Automobilia. I have always liked motor cars and all that goes with them. I had an interest from childhood when we had a family garage. I introduced Alistair to Automobilia at Beaulieu and he quickly became an enthusiast.”

The motor industry has always employed the best designers, engineers and manufacturing techniques and this is apparent in the function and aesthetic charm of these objects

I ask Gordon why Automobilia has such appeal to collectors. He responds “Automobilia connects the motor car enthusiast with the vehicles themselves. Very few of us have the space or the funds to acquire the cars but by comparison Automobilia can be collected on a much more modest budget.” I agree, these pieces of motoring history are great value and have long delighted my eye.

Gathered around Gordon in the Toovey’s offices you can see an array of Automobilia entered for auction from the collection of Alistair Morris and others. Many of the pieces are illustrated in their Automobilia book which has become a collectors’ item in its own right.

The large brass lamp is amongst the earliest pieces entered from Alistair’s collection. This fine acetylene headlamp is by Powell & Hanmer and dates from c. 1904-1914. Alistair once explained to me that these lamps were stirrup mounted to the car and detachable for ease of cleaning. The bull’s-eye condenser lens would have magnified the beam.

A Morris Motor Cars Distributor’s enamel sign from the collection of the late Alistair Morris

The Morris Distributor double sided enamel sign was a great favourite of Alistair’s because of the name. I remember his delight when he acquired it at Toovey’s. Like so many of the enamel motoring signs it dates from the 1920s and 1930s. It was made for Morris dealers to display in their showrooms.

I am looking forward to celebrating Alistair Morris’ life-long passion for collectors’ items at the sale. He worked tirelessly for our profession and I, like so many in the collectors’ world, was grateful for his encouragement, advice and friendship over many years.

Toovey’s specialist sale of Automobilia, including the Alistair Morris collection, will be auctioned on Friday 14th July 2017. With estimates ranging from £80 to £500 there is something to delight the motoring enthusiast whatever their budget. For more information go to www.tooveys.com or to reserve a catalogue telephone 01903 891955.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

Life and Service Celebrated through Art and Music

Lady Emma Barnard, The High Sheriff of West Sussex, celebrating the contribution of the husbands and wives of Sussex clergy to the life of our community

Lady Emma Barnard, The High Sheriff of West Sussex, has made it her aim to celebrate and affirm the quiet, un-sung heroes of our county. Amongst these are the wives and husbands of our clergy. We came together to celebrate their vital and often un-seen work in our communities with a pilgrimage at Chichester Cathedral.

Chichester Cathedral has one of the most important collections of Modern British Art in the country. Winston Churchill’s last ecclesiastical appointment was to install Walter Hussey as Dean of Chichester Cathedral in 1955. Hussey can be credited with commissioning most of the exemplary 20th century art found there. The works unite our human experiences with the life of Christ. Many of the artists were responding to the experience of a century of industrialised war as they sought to redefine our nation’s identity and re-articulate fresh hope in a New Jerusalem as first imagined in Sussex by William Blake.

The Stradivarius Piano Trio: Andrew Bernardi, Jonathan Few, and Maria Marchant

I was blessed to lead this pilgrimage through art supported by Andrew Bernardi, Jonathan Few and Maria Marchant. This exceptional group of musicians are amongst the finest in the country and had chosen pieces to reflect the art and its stories.

As we journeyed together the threads of word and music were united with the Cathedral’s art providing a rich tapestry so that we were able to inhabit this sacred space and be moved by the stories represented.

In the South Aisle is a remarkable and profoundly moving ancient carved stone panel. It depicts Jesus heartbroken having been told of the death of his dear friend Lazarus. In this moment of the story Jesus has not yet raised Lazarus from the dead. Jonathan Few had chosen Faure’s Elegy to accompany this carving. Jonathan brought an extraordinary emotional depth to his passionate rendition of the slow rise and fall of this poignant lament complimented by Maria’s sublime interpretation on piano. Many felt moved to pray in silence for those affected by the tragic Grenfell tower block fire in West London.

The Marc Chagall window at Chichester Cathedral

The Chagall window was born of a meeting between Walter Hussey and Marc Chagall at the artist’s home in S. Paul de Vence in 1977. Hussey had arrived late. His flight had been delayed by rain and he had difficulty finding their home in the dark. He was warmly welcomed by Mme Chagall. Chagall explained that he was having trouble getting started and asked for Hussey’s thoughts. Hussey suggested as inspiration the words of Psalm 150 which speaks of everything that breathes praising the Lord with music. The vignettes and colours that Chagall employs closely follows their conversation. As we reflected on this joyful scene Andrew and Maria played Olivier Messiaen’s exquisite Praise to the Immortality of Jesus from the Quartet for the End of Time. This final movement is slow and beautiful. The breadth of tone of Andrew Bernardi’s Stradivarius Violin and the richness of Maria Marchant’s piano seemed to rise heavenwards, united in praise to the Lord as, with perfect timing, the Cathedral Bells rang out.

It was a blessed evening as we came together with Lady Emma Barnard to celebrate a remarkable group of people. The wives and husbands of Sussex clergy and their often un-seen contribution to the life of our local communities is deserving of our thanks.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

Music and Nature Celebrated at Knepp Castle

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The Bernardi Music Group in the music room at Knepp

he Shipley Arts Festival’s remarkable program of music continued last weekend. The Knepp Castle concert, generously hosted by Sir Charles and Lady Issy Burrell, is always one of the highlights of the Sussex summer season. The concert was performed in the company of The High Sheriff of West Sussex, Lady Emma Barnard – artistic excellence, stewardship and community were affirmed and celebrated.

The High Sheriff of West Sussex, Lady Emma Barnard, and Mr Andrew Bernardi with the 1696 Stradivarius

Honouring Knepp Castle and its Wilding project the concert was wittily interspersed with musical references to the Sussex countryside and nature celebrating the work of this important Sussex estate.

Knepp’s re-wilding project uses large herbivores to drive habitat changes across the estate. The various cows, deer, horses and pigs affect the vegetation in different ways helping to create a patchwork quilt of habitats including: open grassland, regenerated scrub, bare ground and forested groves. The project is born out of Sir Charles and Lady Izzy Burrell’s desire to respond to the urgent need for nature conservation in Britain. The numbers of native species of flora and fauna, especially farmland birds, have plummeted over the past decades – theirs is vital stewardship.

The Shipley Arts Festival’s growing national status is apparent in the commanding reputations and performances of the musicians who Andrew Bernardi brings together.

This was apparent in the rendition of the Trout Quintet, also known as the Piano Quintet in A major, D. 667. It was composed in 1819 by Franz Schubert when he was just 22 years old. The original and complex harmonies of the piece were portrayed with a remarkable joy, intensity and passion by the pianist Maria Marchant, Andrew Bernardi, playing the 1696 Stradivarius violin, Virginia Slater, Viola and Gemma Murray, Double Bass. The work is considered to be uniquely sonorous amongst chamber works for piano and strings and was brought to life by their vivid performances.

Last year the English operatic baritone and composer, Roderick Williams premiered his beautiful and profoundly moving ‘Goodwood Variations’ as part of the Shipley Arts Festival. It once again met with applause.

Singers and founders of the British Pilgrimage Trust, Guy Hayward and Will Parsons were joined by Sam Lee. They had been on pilgrimage in the villages around Horsham to return to sing the folk song Turtle Dove to the colony of Turtle Doves which have re-established themselves at Knepp thanks to the re-wilding. Their performance of the piece spoke wonderfully of Sussex and delighted the audience.

As the concert concluded we all stood to sing Ralph Vaughan Williams’ famous pilgrim’s hymn which he called Monk’s Gate. Mrs Harriet Verrall, who gave him the folk tune upon which it is based, lived at Monks Gate just outside Horsham. The words were adapted from John Bunyan by Percy Dearmer:

“He who would valiant be ‘gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy follow the Master.
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.”

Pilgrimage reflects life. It is a journey of questioning, exploration and celebration. This was a remarkable evening of exemplary musical performances. As we accompanied Andrew Bernardi the musical journey transformed us allowing us to glimpse something of the world beyond our immediate perception.

Sir Charles and Lady Issy Burrell at Knepp Castle

Thanks were rightly given to Sir Charles and Lady Issy Burrell, the gathered audience, the musicians, as well as the sponsors Toovey’s, Kreston Reeves and Henfield’s NFU Mutual Agency. But most of all our thanks should go to a most gifted and generous musician, Andrew Bernardi, whose passion, hard work, generosity of spirit and vision continues to bless Sussex.

For more information on the forthcoming Shipley Arts Festival concerts go to www.bmglive.com. Tickets are on sale at The Capitol, Horsham box office. Telephone 01403 750220 or go to www.thecapitolhorsham.com. Demand for tickets is always high so don’t delay!

To explore Knepp’s re-wilding project go to www.kneppsafaris.co.uk or telephone 07739 083650.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

Royal Visit Celebrates Heritage and Community

HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent with Peter Thorogood, Roger Linton, and The Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Susan Pyper, opening the new King’s Garden at St Mary’s, Bramber

It is a bright early Summer afternoon as Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra of Kent opens the new King’s Garden in the company of the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Susan Pyper, Peter Thorogood, Roger Linton and the volunteers at St Mary’s House and Gardens, Bramber. Heritage, hard work and community are affirmed and celebrated.

Peter Thorogood., MBE and Roger Linton., MBE, bought the house and gardens in 1984. Their passion for this wonderful place is infectious. They have created and gathered a community of people around the house and gardens. This team of volunteers have also offered their resources, time and talents to the repair, restoration and maintenance of this important house and garden.

Peter Thorogood has just celebrated his 90th birthday. I offer my congratulations on his birthday and work at St Mary’s. He responds self-effacingly noting the “hard work of the volunteers” and the camaraderie of all who have been involved in the house and gardens. These sentiments are echoed by Roger Linton who reflects upon how he gains such “pleasure from their pleasure”.

St Mary’s House and Gardens, Bramber

Whilst we await the arrival of the Princess I join the volunteers in the tea rooms. The great affection in which they hold Peter and Roger quickly becomes apparent. They clearly value the friendships and sense of community which underpins the work of St Mary’s.

HRH Princess Alexandra is shown around the house and gardens. She pauses in the Jubilee Garden to admire the Princess Alexandra of Kent roses and the Acer palmatum shindeshojo which has been planted to mark her visit.

A Boscobel Rose in The King’s Garden

The King’s Garden also shares a royal theme and has been designed by Roger Linton to commemorate Prince Charles, later Charles II’s escape through Bramber village to Brighton and then to Shoreham from where he would sail into exile in France. It is said that Charles eluded the Parliamentarian forces at both Houghton and Bramber by disguising himself as Colonel George Gunter’s servant and leading his horse. At the heart of The King’s Garden is a sapling oak whose lineage goes back to the famous Boscobel Oak in which Charles II hid after the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

St Mary’s House and Gardens has a vital and continuing role in our community. Its story encompasses and tells the story of our county’s place in the history of our nation.

The vision, dedication, hard work and generosity of Peter Thorogood and Roger Linton has permanently written their names into the story and history of this grand old house and her gardens.

These generous custodians have always wanted to share St Mary’s with others and it is their intention that St Mary’s will remain accessible and at the heart of the local community for future generations.

St Mary’s House and Gardens, The Street, Bramber, BN44 3WE, are open to the public for the 2017 season. For further details of opening times, concerts and events visit www.stmarysbramber.co.uk or telephone 01903 816205.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

Horsham’s Art Gallery Attracts National Attention

Christian Mitchell, Nicholas Toovey, Rosa Sepple., PRI, Robin Hazelwood., PPRI, and Jeremy Knight at the opening of the RI: Now 17 watercolour exhibition

The Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, Now 17 summer exhibition is currently on show at The Horsham Museum & Art Gallery. The Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours (RI) rarely holds exhibitions outside London and this show highlights the growing reputation of Horsham’s exceptional regional art gallery.

The exhibition was opened by the President of the Royal Institute, Rosa Sepple, and the Chairman of Horsham District Council, Christian Mitchell, in front of a large audience.

The RI can trace its origins back to 1807 when it was first formed as the New Society of Painters in Watercolours. Early exhibitors included the luminaries William Blake and Paul Sandby. The Society closed in 1812 but was resurrected by the artist Joseph Powell in 1831. The Society acquired its Royal status by order of Queen Victoria in 1883. For much of its existence its home was opposite the Royal Academy in Piccadilly but in 1971, together with a number of other leading societies of artists, it moved to the Mall Galleries as part of the Federation of British artists. Her Majesty the Queen is the RI’s patron.

Since Horsham’s art gallery was opened in 2010, to compliment the museum’s already outstanding program, visitor numbers have doubled making the Horsham Museum and Art Gallery one of the most visited arts and heritage destinations in the whole of Sussex.

Responding to this demand the museum changed its collecting policy. It now collect’s not only Sussex related art, but also watercolours by leading exponents of the medium. A watercolour collection of national significance is being built with financial support from The Friends of Horsham Museum, collectors, businesses, trusts and institutions. I am delighted that Toovey’s have already donated a number of watercolours by key British artists and are sponsoring the exceptional RI: Now 17 show. This exceptional selling exhibition includes watercolours by some twenty leading RI artists including works by the current President.

Charles Bone’s watercolour, Sussex Downs

The beauty of the Sussex Downs never fails to excite me. The watercolour, ‘Sussex Downs’, by RI past President Charles Bone, captures the shifting grey-green hues of the late spring and early summer. His broad but delicate brushwork gives us a sense of the fast changing play of light and weather on this ancient landscape. Charles Bone is understandably celebrated for his ability to record landscapes and architecture.

Lillias August’s Hanging by a Thread watercolour being painted in her studio

Lillias August’s watercolour ‘Hanging by a Thread’, in contrast, conveys a stillness which appears out of time. The three-dimensional quality of the light bulbs depicted is emphasised by the economy of her palette and the building up of painstaking layers of wash. ‘Hanging by a Thread’ seen here in her studio allows us to glimpse something of the artist’s working method.

These are just two of the delights in the RI: Now 17 exhibition which gives the backdrop for a number of summer events celebrating watercolour paintings and artists at the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery.

Highlights include a talk by Art Historian, Nicola Moorby, on Turner’s watercolour technique on the 8th June 2017, and Nick Toovey of Toovey’s Auctioneers will once again be holding a fundraising valuation event for paintings, prints, books, postcards and other paper collectables on Saturday 10th June 2017, 10am to 1pm at the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery.

This current show, RI: Now 17, is proof of Horsham Museum & Art Gallery’s growing national reputation. Curator, Jeremy Knight, is once again deserving of our thanks.

The RI: Now 17 exhibition runs until 15th July 2017 at Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, The Causeway, Horsham, RH12 1HE and entrance is free. For more information visit www.horshammuseum.org or telephone 01403 254959.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.