The Perfect Bank Holiday Destination

‘Gazer’ the raku rabbit with a herd of bouncing bunnies
‘Gazer’ the raku rabbit with a herd of bouncing bunnies

The 2017 Arundel Gallery Trail coincides with the Arundel Festival. More than 150 artists are exhibiting this August Bank Holiday weekend in over 65 venues in and around Arundel.

The opening of ceramic artist Josse Davis’ exhibition has, for me, become synonymous with the start of the Arundel Gallery Trail.

A stoneware jug titled ‘The Art Class’ by Josse Davis
A stoneware jug titled ‘The Art Class’ by Josse Davis

I catch up with Josse and his partner, Melissa Alers Hankey, in the Duff Gallery as they put the finishing touches to the exhibition. My eye is immediately taken by a large blue and white stoneware jug by Josse Davis. Its beautiful baluster form bears testimony to the skill of this talented potter. Titled ‘The Art Class’ it is wittily decorated with a nude surrounded by artists and their canvases. Josse shows me how he has painted the nude on each of the artist’s canvases from its own perspective. I comment on how these vignettes add to the scene’s playful narrative. Josse responds saying “I like to think my work makes people smile.”

Ceramic artist, Josse Davis, in the Duff Gallery, Tarrant Street, Arundel
Ceramic artist, Josse Davis, in the Duff Gallery, Tarrant Street, Arundel

Josse Davis has exhibited at the Arundel Gallery Trail every year since it began. He comments “I notice how people who came more than twenty-five years ago are now returning with their own young families talking about when they bought their first figure or pot as children”.

A display of raku ware running rabbits is sure to be a favourite with children and adults alike. With prices ranging between £15 and £50 they are an accessible way to start to collect Josse’s ceramics. Each rabbit is individually modelled with its own name. Josse says “I add the eyes last – it gives them such life.” Melissa says “Their character isn’t fully revealed until they come out of the kiln.” Raku ware acquires its crazed appearance as the molten glaze cools suddenly and it shatters.

Josse’s father, the artist Derek Davis, started The Arundel Gallery Trail with a small group of other artists. Each year the Derek Davis Prize is given in his memory. The recipient is voted for by their fellow artists exhibiting in the gallery trail. In 2016 the prize was awarded to Josse Davis.

Josse Davis’ reputation as a ceramic artist is in the ascendancy and his prices are rising with his signature pieces selling for between £400 and £800.

The Arundel Gallery Trail is open 2.00pm to 5.30pm during the week and 12 noon to 5.30pm this Bank Holiday weekend. It provides art lovers with direct access to leading Sussex artists like Josse Davis and their work. For more information on exhibiting artists and this celebration of Sussex as a centre of art go to www.arundelgallerytrail.co.uk.

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.

Christmas and New Year opening hours at Toovey’s 2016/2017

Please note that we close for the Christmas period at 5.00pm on Thursday 15th December and reopen at 10.00am on Thursday 29th December for pre-sale viewing of our End of Year Sale on 30th December.

Note: All enquiries regarding this sale will be responded to on our return.

After the sale day, we are closed from New Year’s Eve Saturday 31st December to Monday 2nd January.

We return to our normal opening hours from Tuesday 3rd January:
Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm for valuations and 9am to 5pm for all other enquiries.

Twenty Years of Fine Art at Toovey’s

Rupert Toovey with gavel in hand ©Toby Phillips/Toovey's
Rupert Toovey with gavel in hand

I started Toovey’s Fine Art Auctioneers twenty years ago this month, with a dedicated team of people who remain passionate about the company and the work we do. We opened on a stormy Valentine’s night in 1995 and were delighted when more than 700 guests braved wind and rain to support us and celebrate this new venture. I set out to create a family firm where people are valued, both clients and staff – a regional auction house providing a centre of expertise for the valuation and sale of art and antiques, with leading specialists and international marketing. Today, the salerooms are on the A24 at Washington, in sight of Chanctonbury Ring and the Sussex Downs, though we travel across London and the South East of England advising clients on their possessions, and our website attracts hundreds of thousands of potential clients from around the world.

Reflecting on the last twenty years, it is the passionate collectors who stand out. These individuals often collect in the pursuit of knowledge. They are continually refining and adding to their depth of understanding of a particular field or period, while training their eye to the subtle details which set apart exceptional objects. In an age which increasingly confuses information with knowledge and understanding, this is an exciting and refreshing group of people to accompany.

'La Cullure des Tulipes’, oil on canvas by George Hitchcock, 1889
'La Cullure des Tulipes’, oil on canvas by George Hitchcock, 1889

The De La Rue Collection from Rusper gave Toovey’s its first truly world-class results in 1998. The remarkable collection came from the famous De La Rue family, who printed money and stamps for the British Empire. It had lain undisturbed for some seventy years. Among the wonderful paintings, furniture and objects was this late 19th century oil on canvas of a young woman gathering tulips in a garden by the American artist George Hitchcock (1850-1913). Although the canvas was holed and in a poor state, it broke all records for the artist at the time when it sold to an American buyer. His agent flew in on Concorde especially for the sale and, against stiff competition from a telephone bidder in London, bought it for £345,000. The news of the sale was reported in the New York Times.

The Little Thakeham House Sale
The Little Thakeham House Sale

Many of the most memorable collections speak of the particular collectors. Take, for example, our Little Thakeham House Sale in 2000. I wrote in the catalogue introduction that the contents of Little Thakeham were in keeping with the stylistic quality of this important Edwin Lutyens house. They reflected the passion which this Arts and Crafts period building inspired in Tim and Pauline Ractliff, who had preserved and celebrated the property for many years. The auction was packed, with people parking in the orchard. On the lawn the marquee filled with bidders and a bank of telephones. Pre-sale estimates were quickly overtaken as prices soared and the gavel fell.

Toovey’s has remained the first choice for the sale of single-owner collections in Sussex. In 2006 our sale of The Bolney Lodge Collection saw buyers spend well over a million pounds on furniture and works of art from the estate of the late Judge Coles QC.

Single-owner sales often reflect a very personal and particular insight into the lives of the individual collector. Take the sale of The Library Collection of The Late W. Leslie Weller MBE, DL, FSA, which Toovey’s held in December last year. The books, pictures and effects reflected a man whose lively mind was directed towards his love of Sussex, its history, countryside and people. A generous and encouraging man, he worked tirelessly for the auctioneering profession and art world, as well as numerous charities. His friendship, support and advice I valued highly throughout my career.

The W. Leslie Weller Library Sale
The W. Leslie Weller Library Sale

Provenance and the human story behind individual objects or collections add a frisson which, though unpredictable, always has an important and positive effect on the prices achieved for them at auction. This has been reflected at Toovey’s sales again and again over the years.

I remain a passionate advocate for art, heritage and culture, sponsoring Pallant House Gallery, Shipley Arts Festival and the wonderful Horsham Museum and Art Gallery, amongst many others, through Toovey’s. Our company continues to invest in the Sussex community which I love, supporting numerous charities and groups with talks and fund-raising.

Twenty years on, I am proud that Toovey’s has fulfilled my hopes and aspirations. It remains a family firm employing a team of specialists and it now has a long-established reputation for expertise in valuing, marketing and auctioning art and antiques. None of this would have been possible, though, without the generous support and encouragement of the collectors, our clients, friends and supporters. Thank you all for the first twenty years!

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 4th February 2015 in the West Sussex Gazette.

Toovey’s Late December/Early January Opening Times

Toovey’s close for Christmas at 5pm on Thursday 18th December 2014.

We reopen for pre-sale viewing of our End of Year Sale on Tuesday 30th December from 10am to 4pm
and the sale day, New Year’s Eve, Wednesday 31st December from 9am to the start of the sale at 10am.

Note: all sale enquiries will be responded to on our return.

After the sale, we are  closed from New Year’s Day, Thursday 1st January to Sunday 4th January.

We return to our normal opening hours on Monday 5th January: Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm for valuations and 9am to 5pm for all other enquiries.

We would like to wish all our customers a very Happy Christmas and look forward to welcoming you at our Spring Gardens rooms soon.