Dr Geoffrey Sparrow (1887-1969)

Dr Geoffrey Sparrow

A nationally important comic artist and illustrator is given a one man show at Horsham Museum and Art Gallery this September. Dr Sparrow pursued his hobby while serving the residents of the ancient market town of Horsham for half of the 20th Century. His importance on the national scene was recognised back in 2001 when Horsham Museum obtained a grant from the V&A Purchase Grant fund to buy some of his prints, aquatints and original artwork. 11 years later the Museum is holding a major retrospective on an artist who follows in the tradition of Rowlandson, Leech and Alkin, in capturing the foibles and characters of both man and beast.

Dr Sparrow grew up in a Devonshire Home, as his autobiography ‘Foxes and Physic‘ states “in such an atmosphere of red coats, horses, hounds, terriers and old sporting prints on the wall I became thoroughly soaked in the tradition of fox hunting and have always held old Jorrocks’ opinion that all time not spent in hunting is wasted.” He studied medicine at Cambridge and Barts, going into medicine as “something had to be chosen… I was offered the law, medicine or the church: didn’t like an uncle who was a solicitor, so that was out; our parson was rather stout and greasy and preached long and dull sermons, and away with that, so there remained medicine.”

Dr Sparrow arrived in Horsham in 1919 having served as a doctor in the First World War where he was awarded a Military Cross. He co-wrote a book about the campaigns he fought in: ‘On Four Fronts with the Royal Naval Division‘. The volume was peppered with comic masterpieces, many of which were taken from his diaries which now reside at the Imperial War Museum. Once settled in Horsham he observed everyday life and developed a fond affection for the place and people. During the Second World War he saw military service and at the end of the war he retired from medical practise devoting his life to hunting and art. He joined Brighton and Hove Art School where every Friday he would learn etching and aquatinting.

The exhibition of over 35 works of art collected over the last 20 years reveals a quality of illustration, line and observational skills that mark out Dr Sparrow’s drawings from the humdrum. Through his quick sketches he spans some 50 years of life in Horsham town and field with a fascination for the hunting, the absurd and the ironic. The illustrations were always done with a sense of soft humour , making them sketches that could delight the wall of the Horsham gentlefolk rather than the savage satire that appeals to the lovers of Gilray.

'The West Street Nuisance, Horsham', etching by Dr Geoffrey Sparrow

The exhibition ‘A Host of Sparrows’ (for a grouping of Sparrows as ornithologists and the Doctor would know is called a Host) opens on Tuesday 4th September and runs until 13th October 2012 at Horsham Museum and Art Gallery, located in the Causeway, which Dr Sparrow referred to as “a curious old cul-de-sac leading to the church”. Toovey’s forthcoming auction of Selected Fine Oil Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings and Prints on 12th September, also includes four works by Dr Geoffrey Sparrow, each highlighting the mastery and wit of this Horsham-based artist.

Major Exhibition at Horsham Museum

'Autumn' by Ivon Hitchens, one of the exhibits at Horsham Museum & Art Gallery

Thanks to amazing good fortune Horsham Museum & Art Gallery is able to showcase work by Henry Moore, Jacob Epstein, Paul Nash, Ivon Hitchens, Stanley Spencer and twelve other greats of British art in a temporary exhibition called ‘A Summer of Great British Art.’

Good fortune is the key to an amazing opportunity that has blessed Horsham this summer. The University of Chichester’s Otter Gallery had the good fortune to have a major refurbishment. It also had the good fortune to have a fantastic collection of contemporary British art. While it is being refurbished 17 pictures from its collection are being loaned to Horsham Museum & Art Gallery. This is an incredibly rare opportunity, literally once in a lifetime, as galleries don’t often lend out the crème of their collection, yet thanks to an investment by the University in its facilities, that is exactly what University of Chichester’s Otter Gallery is doing.

The exhibition, which runs for two months from 17th July to 15th September, was only possible through the support of Toovey’s, the Washington-based auction house that assisted with the insurance of this major collection of art. For two months the art will adorn the walls of Horsham Museum’s recently opened art gallery, a venture which has attracted a whole new audience to the Museum. An audience that would go to the Tate to see a David Mitchie, or Elizabeth Blackadder, or Richard Eurich, or a Walter Sickert can now come to Horsham to see these works for the summer of 2012 only.

2012 is a remarkable summer for Britain with sporting and cultural highlights. For the town of Horsham it is also a remarkable summer that  started with Matisse and now with this outstanding exhibition on display, an event only made possible through the work of Horsham District Arts, Toovey’s and The University of Chichester’s Otter Gallery. It is an exhibition that will go down in the annals of the town’s cultural history.

‘A Summer of Great British Art’ opens at Horsham Museum on 17th July and closes 15th September 2012.

Contemporary Art Auction Catalogue Available Now

The Toovey’s Contemporary Art Auction catalogue for the 2012 sale is available now. £6 at our Spring Gardens auction rooms (£8 by post available only from our offices – 01903 891955).

The catalogue will also be available at Horsham Museum and Art Gallery from 1st June to 7th July – throughout their exhibition Off The Wall. Every penny of the £6 catalogue sales at the exhibition will be donated to Horsham Museum and Art Gallery.

In addition to what you will be able to see in the free online catalogue, the printed version carries an additional question-and-answer feature with each of the 50 participating artists.  All 150 lots are illustrated and reproduced in colour. Note: cover image ‘White Heart Dish’ by Claire Palastanga (Lot 110).

Henri Matisse Exhibition at Horsham Museum & Art Gallery

Henri Matisse - 'Tristesse du Roi (Sorrow of the King)', 1952 Gouache découpée, 292 x 386cm Copyright: DACS

Thanks to sponsorship by Toovey’s auction house and the Hayward Gallery, Horsham Museum and Art Gallery is able to host an exhibition of Matisse’s later work. Opened just two years ago the Art Gallery was a new venture for the Museum, with the hope that it would be able to offer visitors and the community of the district the opportunity to see, admire and become inspired by art. ‘MATISSE: Drawing with Scissors, Late Works 1950-1954 – A Hayward Touring Exhibition from Southbank Centre, London’  is an amazingly colourful exhibition that reveals how Matisse was one of the twentieth century’s leading artists and designers – even while bedridden he was able to create iconic work with his ‘drawing with scissors’ series. It will inspire those who find the brush and pencil a barrier to art.

As the Hayward Gallery notes, “The French painter, sculptor and designer, Henri Matisse (1869-1954) was one of the twentieth century’s most influential artists. His vibrant works are celebrated for their extraordinary richness and luminosity of colour. Matisse: Drawing with Scissors, a Hayward Touring exhibition from the Southbank Centre, London, features 35 lithographic prints of the famous cut-outs, produced in the last four years of his life, when the artist was confined to his bed. It includes many of his iconic images, such as The Snail and the Blue Nudes.”  Matisse continued creating highly original works into his eighties. For his cut-outs he used paper hand-painted with gouache, laid down in abstract or figurative patterns: “the paper cut-out allows me to draw in the colour… Instead of drawing the outline and putting the colour inside it… I draw straight into the colour.”  The colours he used were so strong that he was advised by his doctor to wear dark glasses.

The lithographic reproductions in this exhibition are taken from a special double issue of Verve, a review of art and literature, published by Tériade, a major publisher of fine art books in 1958.

Matisse began his working life as a lawyer, before going to Paris to study art in 1890. At first strongly influenced by the Impressionists, he soon created his own style, using brilliant, pure colours, and started making sculptures as well as paintings. In 1905 he and his colleagues were branded the Fauves (wild beasts) because of their unconventional use of colour, and it was during this time that he painted his celebrated Luxe, Calme et Volupté (Luxury, Tranquillity and Delight). “There is no gap between my earlier pictures and my cut-outs,” Matisse wrote “I have only reached a form reduced to the essential through greater absoluteness and greater abstraction.”

‘Matisse: Drawing with Scissors’ opens on 28 April and closes 26 May 2012. For further information contact Horsham Museum.