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.

Rudgwick Artist, Dennis Roxby Bott

Dennis Roxby Bott ‘Venice’, watercolour
Dennis Roxby Bott ‘Venice’, watercolour

‘Dennis Roxby Bott, RWS: A Showcase’ is a charming exhibition of some fifty watercolours by this respected local artist. The show runs for just two more weeks at the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery.

Dennis is a member of the Royal Watercolour Society which was founded in 1804. It is the oldest watercolour society in the world. It remains an artist led society made up of an elected membership. Dennis has received commissions from the National Trust, the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne and Hove Museum. His work can even be seen in the wardroom of the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Dennis Roxby Bott ‘The Kiosk, Hove’, watercolour
Dennis Roxby Bott ‘The Kiosk, Hove’, watercolour

Dennis Roxby Bott was born in London 1948 and lives in Rudgwick, near Horsham, West Sussex. He studied at Colchester School of Art, Norwich School of Art and Keswick Hall, Norwich.

Exhibition curator, Jeremy Knight is delighted with the show which has been well received by visitors. He comments “Dennis displays a mastery of the brush and pallet and also has an ability to see and record minute detail.”

Jeremy continues “Architecture and the man made environment are the inspiration for many of Dennis’ paintings. Several of the watercolours in the exhibition depict Brighton and Venice. These subjects really suit his keen eye for perspective and detail.”

Dennis Roxby Bott ‘The Steps, Hove’, watercolour
Dennis Roxby Bott ‘The Steps, Hove’, watercolour

There is a firmness of line in Dennis Roxby Bott’s paintings which lend them a graphic quality. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that his work has been reproduced as illustrations in books and as cards. In addition he has held exhibitions at galleries across England and is a regular exhibitor at the Royal Watercolour Society spring and autumn exhibitions at the Bankside Gallery, London.

The artist Dennis Roxby Bott
The artist Dennis Roxby Bott

Over the centuries Britain’s artists have been inspired by its landscape, history, architecture and people which continue to provide rich opportunities for artistic exploration. Dennis Roxby Bott’s work is in this tradition.

Exhibitions like this would not be possible without the Horsham District Council’s understanding of the importance of art and heritage to the identity and economy of Horsham and the broader district. Jonathan Chowen, Horsham District Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture, and his team are deserving of our thanks for their continued long term support of the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery.

‘Dennis Roxby Bott, RWS: A Showcase’ is in its final fortnight and runs until 6th May 2017 at the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, Causeway, Horsham, RH12 1HE. Admission is free. For more information visit 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.

Toys and Fundraising at Horsham Museum

Toovey’s toy specialist, Chris Gale, with some of his favourite recent discoveries
Toovey’s toy specialist, Chris Gale, with some of his favourite recent discoveries

Toovey’s toy valuation event in support of the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery is becoming an annual event. Toovey’s specialist toys valuer, Christopher Gale, will be at the museum on Saturday, 18th February 2017, between 10am and 12noon providing free auction valuations and advice on your toy trains, cars, teddy bears, dolls and collectors’ toys.

Chris Gale says: “A third of the seller’s commission for items subsequently auctioned by Toovey’s will be donated by us to Horsham Museum to help with its important work.”

A Hornby ‘Princess Elizabeth’ O Gauge electric train with original box
A Hornby ‘Princess Elizabeth’ O Gauge electric train with original box

I ask Chris about his favourite recent discoveries. He shows me a Hornby O Gauge electric train with original box. He says ‘This is one of Hornby’s finest models and reflects the design of the original steam engine. The original Princess Elizabeth locomotive was designed by Mr W. A. Stainer and was built at the Crewe Works in Cheshire. It was one of the first 4-6-2 engines built by The London Midland Scottish Railway (LMSR). The Princess Elizabeth became the most famous of the giant LMSR locomotives when, in 1936, she covered the 401.4 mile run between Glasgow and London at an average speed of 70mph whilst hauling a train. The toy train was produced with the guidance and advice of LMSR.” The model, dating from 1937, looks resplendent in its ‘crimson lake’ livery and the detailing is marvellous.

A Dinky Toys no. 163 Bristol 450 and Sports Coupé and no. 236 Connaught racing car both with their original boxes and an array of sports cars
A Dinky Toys no. 163 Bristol 450 and Sports Coupé and no. 236 Connaught racing car both with their original boxes and an array of sports cars

I love the Dinky Toys no. 163 Bristol 450 Sports Coupé and no. 236 Connaught racing car, both with their original boxes. Bristol and Connaught both raced at Goodwood in the 1950s. Chris comments “Toy cars and tin plate toys always have a strong following. Dinky cars, for example, delight grown-up collectors as they did when they were boys. And they love rare models which aren’t too play worn!”

Chris Gales’ enthusiasm is infectious and his knowledge of toys never fails to impress.

The toy displays at Horsham Museum are marvellous. Bring your toy trains, cars, teddy bears, dolls and collectors’ toys to see Chris Gale between 10am and 12noon on Saturday, 18th February 2017, for a morning of fun and free pre-sale valuations at the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, The Causeway, Horsham, RH12 1HE. Toovey’s next specialist toy sale will be held on 21st March 2017. A third of the seller’s commission for items seen at the event and subsequently auctioned by Toovey’s will be donated to the Friends of Horsham Museum. Sellers will receive the full amount they would normally get but they will know that they have helped the Museum as well.

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.

Concert Celebrates the Life of Henry Burstow

Horsham’s famous Henry Burstow

This Saturday a remarkable concert at St Mary’s Parish Church in the Causeway, Horsham, commemorates the life of Henry Burstow who died 100 years ago this year.

Burstow’s love of Bell Ringing and Folk Songs will be celebrated in words, dance, music and bell ringing by the Horsham Bell Ringers, the Horsham Folk Club, the Broadwood Morris Men, the Friends of Horsham Museum and international violinist, Andrew Bernardi, playing the 1696 Stradivarius.

Andrew Bernardi plays the ‘Lark Ascending’ on the 1696 Stradivarius
Andrew Bernardi plays the ‘Lark Ascending’ on the 1696 Stradivarius

Henry Burstow was Horsham’s cobbler, a bell ringer and folk singer. Writing about his love of folk music Burstow said ‘In learning and retaining all my songs my memory has seemed to work quite spontaneously: many of the songs I learnt at first time of hearing; others, longer ones, I have learnt upon hearing them twice through.’ His knowledge and memory of Sussex folk music drew the attention of Lucy Broadwood and the composer, Ralph Vaughan Williams, who visited the area in 1904.

Celebrating the life of Henry Burstow with Dance, Music and Bell Ringing
Celebrating the life of Henry Burstow with Dance, Music and Bell Ringing

Vaughan Williams’ famous ‘Lark Ascending’ will be performed by Andrew Bernardi and members of his critically acclaimed Music Group, String Academy and Christs’ Hospital Director of music, Andrew Cleary. This extraordinary piece of music rises and falls as though accompanying a skylark’s flight in the folds of the Sussex Downs. The composer was inspired by specific lines from George Meredith’s poem of the same title which dates from 1881. They were originally printed on the flyleaf of Vaughan Williams’ musical score:

‘He rises and begins to round,
He drops the silver chain of sound,
Of many links without a break,
In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake.
For singing till his heaven fills,
‘Tis love of earth that he instils,
And ever winging up and up,
Our valley is his golden cup
And he the wine which overflows
to lift us with him as he goes.
Till lost on his aerial rings
In light, and then the fancy sings.’

There is a Eucharistic quality to the way that Vaughan Williams draws these particular lines together from Meredith’s much longer poem. It never fails to move and uplift me.

Writing about bell ringers in his reminiscences Henry Burstow said ‘To all brother campanologists and friends who remain of the hundreds with whom I have had the pleasure of meeting I offer my kind regards, and thanks for the hearty welcome and good fellowship they have always shown me.’ With bell ringers at the heart of this event you can be assured of a warm welcome on Saturday.

This unique concert takes place this weekend on Saturday 22 October at 7.30pm at St Mary’s Parish Church, Causeway, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 1HE. Advance tickets are priced at £10 each and can be purchased from the Capitol Box Office by telephoning 01403 750220 and from The Horsham Museum and Art Gallery. Tickets will also be available on the night at £12.50 each. The funds raised by the concert will be donated to the Friends of Horsham Museum. For more information visit www.thecapitolhorsham.com or www.horshammuseum.org.

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.

Tate Gallery Curator Opens Horsham’s Festival of Watercolours

Alison Smith, Tate Gallery’s Lead Curator of British Art to 1900, at Horsham Museum & Art Gallery
Alison Smith, Tate Gallery’s Lead Curator of British Art to 1900, at Horsham Museum & Art Gallery

‘In Pursuit of the Watercolours’ is at the centre of a festival celebrating British watercolour painting at the Horsham Museum and Art Gallery. The exhibition was opened by the Tate Gallery’s Lead Curator of British Art to 1900, Alison Smith, in the company of Horsham District Council Chairman, Christian Mitchell and a large gathering of art lovers.

As I reported last week the museum has recently changed its collecting policy and is seeking to collect not only Sussex related art, but also watercolours by the greatest exponents of the medium. It represents a remarkable opportunity to form a collection of national significance.

The project will require the continued patronage of The Friends of Horsham Museum, as well as collectors, businesses, trusts and institutions, in order to acquire watercolours. Toovey’s have already donated work.

From left to right: Jonathan Chowen, Nicholas Toovey, Christian Mitchell and Jeremy Knight
From left to right: Jonathan Chowen, Nicholas Toovey, Christian Mitchell and Jeremy Knight

Tate Curator, Alison Smith, expressed her delight to find important watercolourists like J.M.W. Turner, Francis Wheatley, Thomas Rowlandson, John Varley and John Piper represented in an exhibition at Horsham. She praised the Horsham District Council (HDC) for its support of the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, offering particular thanks to HDC Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture, Jonathan Chowen, and Curator, Jeremy Knight. Alison went on to acknowledge the ‘enormous’ contribution made by picture specialist, Nicholas Toovey, to the exhibition and catalogue, as well as Toovey’s Fine Art Auctioneers long term support of the Museum. She concluded by wishing the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery every success in forming its new watercolour collection.

Dudley Hardy (1867-1922) – ‘The Bird Fanciers’, watercolour, loaned from a private collection
Dudley Hardy (1867-1922) – ‘The Bird Fanciers’, watercolour, loaned from a private collection

The domestic scale and subtle nature of many English watercolours are particularly suited to the British temperament, sensibilities and weather. But watercolour offers artists a depth of colour too. Watercolourists have often recorded the world at home and abroad. During the 19th century there was an increasing interest in the exotic, especially the art, architecture and culture of North Africa, Arabia and the Middle East. Art reflecting these subjects is now known as ‘orientalism’. Dudley Hardy produced many orientalist works and my eye is taken by his watercolour ‘The Bird Fanciers’ which is a prime example of the genre. Here Hardy fuses the compositional elements of his father, Thomas Bush Hardy, with the exotic landscape, costume and colours of Algiers.

Whilst the exhibition centres on the Golden Age of watercolour painting in Britain in the 18th and early 19th centuries it also has work from the 17th to the 21st century including paintings by leading contemporary watercolourist, Gordon Rushmer. Gordon is holding a series of masterclasses at the museum to support the festival and collection.

Toovey’s picture specialist, Nicholas Toovey, will be at The Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, The Causeway, Horsham, RH12 1HE, between 10am and 12noon, this Saturday, 1st October 2016. He will be sharing his passion for the British watercolour and offering free valuations on your pictures. Come and discover whether your watercolour is actually by a famous artist!

To support the building of this important new collection of watercolours a third of the seller’s commission for items seen at the event which are subsequently auctioned by Toovey’s will be donated to the Friends of Horsham Museum. Sellers will receive the full amount they would normally get but will know that they have helped the Museum as well.

The accompanying catalogue provides a marvellous introduction and insight to the delights of British watercolours. To find out more about ‘In Pursuit of the Watercolour’ exhibition and events in the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery’s Festival of Watercolours go to 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