Sun, Sea and Sand on the Island of Jersey

Gorey Castle bedecked with flags for the Queen’s Jubilee

Just before HM Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee I found myself in Jersey. The town of St Helier and the Parishes around the Island were swagged abundantly with celebratory Jubilee bunting, Jersey flags and Union Jacks. The whole island looked like a scene from a painting.

Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands. The Islands have always held a strategic importance to the British Crown thanks to their geographical position just off the coast of France.

The English crown’s claim to be the rightful Duke of Normandy was not given up until the Treaty of Paris in 1259 when the King of France also gave up his claim upon the Channel Islands. In Jersey the loyal toast is traditionally to the “The Queen our Duke!”

Over the centuries these independent Island States, with their own parliaments, have remained loyal to the British Crown.

For over a century, we’ve flocked to the coast in search of sun, sand and sea. Jersey provided an exotic destination – at once familiar and abroad.

By the end of the 1930s some 15 million British people were holidaying by the sea.

Leonard Richmond – ‘Jersey Sunshine Sands Scenery’ colour lithograph, printed by Waterlow & Sons, circa 1930s

The railway companies were keen to attract customers by promoting leisure travel and seaside posters where often produced by those whose trains served the holiday resorts. The early posters were sometimes reproductions of paintings, but poster design soon evolved under the influence of professional artists, art directors, and designers like Leonard Richmond (1889-1965). Born in Somerset he spent a large part of his career in Canada before making London his home. He was most noted for his railway posters but was also as an author and an illustrator. In the 1930s he established a summer painting school at St Ives in Cornwall.

Richmond’s poster for Southern Railway and the Great Western Railway with its joyful palette and graphic qualities advertises Jersey as a destination for Sunshine, Sands and Scenery. It sold at Toovey’s in a specialist print sale for £1100. Published by Waterlow & Sons in the 1930s it promotes an idyllic image of a beach holiday. The bay is Anne Port, one of my wife and I’s favourites on the island. It is hard to imagine that until Jersey airport opened in 1937 with its four grass runways scheduled flights landed on the beach at St Aubins and West Park, the ticket office was a bus!

Jersey is still familiar and yet abroad – a special place for a holiday.

International Baritone Roderick Williams to Perform in Sussex

Sedgwick Park House and Gardens, Horsham

The Shipley Arts Festival added to the joyful celebrations of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in West Sussex with a sell-out concert at the Blue Idol at Coolham. Festival director, Andrew Bernardi is now turning his attention to a concert at Sedgwick Park House near Horsham on Wednesday 22nd June 2022 which is set to be one of the highlights of this season with international baritone and composer, Roderick Williams, performing and bringing a new composition for the festival.

The concert is being hosted by Festival Patron Clare Davison who, with her late husband John, were amongst the earliest supporters of the Shipley Arts Festival. Clare’s patronage has also extended to Sedgwick Park House and its magnificent gardens which she and John lovingly restored. I ask Clare how she feels to be selling this house that she has invested so much love into and shared so generously with the community over so many years, She replies “We never really own anything we just look after things for a bit and the time has come for this wonderful, generous place to bless a new custodian.”

The long term relationships which Andrew has fostered with his audiences, patrons and musicians through the Shipley Arts Festival are rare and have enabled an extraordinary renaissance in the patronage of music and creativity in our county.

Speaking about the music he has commissioned through the Shipley Art Festival Andrew says “Sussex has a rich artistic history for music especially in the early 20th century, a tradition I am keen to keep alive. We’re following in the footsteps of Sir Edward Elgar who for a time composed at Fittleworth, Ralph Vaughan Williams who gathered many of his famous folk songs and tunes from the fields around Horsham and of course John Ireland who lived at Rock Mill, Washington.”

International baritone and composer Roderick Williams

I can’t wait to hear Roderick Williams’ latest composition which will join his remarkable Goodwood by the Sea. The Shipley Arts Festival commissioned Goodwood by the Sea for pianist Maria Marchant. The piece provides an impressionistic articulation of the sea. I have longed to be able to adequately describe the whoosh and clatter of waves breaking on the pebbles of a beach and the feeling of being so very alive as the wind carries the salty spray ashore and the elements overwhelm the senses and this piece captures that.

This will be a remarkable evening. To book your tickets, which include a glass of Nyetimber, and to find out more about this season’s concerts visit www.bernardimusicgroup.com/events and Sedgwick Park House and Gardens can be viewed on Rightmove.

Congratulations Your Majesty On Your Platinum Jubilee

HM Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew at Balmoral circa 1960

As I write this I am aware of a deep sense of gratitude and anticipation. HM Queen Elizabeth II has been our constant point of reference in a period of unprecedented change for more than seventy years.

Across our beautiful county street parties, church services of thanksgiving and civic celebrations will honour our Queen and her lifetime of service and duty.
During Queen Elizabeth II’s reign our nation has witnessed great changes in society. She has affirmed what is best in our national life and tended to those in need. Together we have shared her joys and sorrows as she has shared ours. Reconciliation, too, has been a defining quality of her reign. Here is a monarch able to bring reconciliation to her peoples as witnessed in Northern Ireland.

The Queen’s Christian faith has been one of the cornerstones of her life and reign. It has informed her sense of calling to the role of monarch and the qualities of service, respect and duty through which she has blessed us all. The words from The Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion resonate in my heart as I pray – ‘We beseech thee also to save and defend all Christian Kings, Princes, and Governors; and specially thy servant Elizabeth our Queen; that under her we may be godly and quietly governed…’ Elizabeth II still holds the title ‘Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England’. In her first Christmas address she asked people, whatever their religion, to pray that God would give her the wisdom and strength to carry out the promises that she would make on the day of her Coronation.

HM Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II’s long reign has been shaped by her faith and her family, by love, service, respect, duty and courage. Her faithful life has provided a generous example to us all.

Prince William reflected on his grandmother in the preface of the former home secretary, Douglas Hurd’s book about the Queen. He wrote ‘Time and again, quietly and modestly, the Queen has shown us all that we can confidently embrace the future without compromising the things that are important.’
God willing, as we celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee each of us will make time to give thanks for her reign. Whether we draw our inspiration from the sacred or the secular we will be united in celebrating that we are blessed to live in the second great Elizabethan age. Congratulations your Majesty on your Platinum Jubilee from all of us here in Sussex!

Glyn Philpot at Pallant House

Glyn Philpot – Portrait of Henry Thomas in Profile, 1934-5, oil on canvas © Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

Pallant House Gallery’s summer show Glyn Philpot: Flesh and Spirit is the first major survey of this artist’s work in almost 40 years. It explores questions of human identity and society in a series of more than 130 works from private and public collections.

Acrobats, working class and society figures hang alongside portraits of young black men in this rewarding and complex exhibition.

I meet up with Pallant House Gallery Director, Simon Martin, who has curated the exhibition. I comment on how Glyn Philpot RA (1884–1937) so often lights his subjects in a dramatic way reminiscent of the Spanish Old Master painter Diego Velazquez.

Simon replies “Unusually there is a tremendous shift from incredibly traditional painting at the beginning which is very much inspired by the Old Masters through to a shift in about 1930 to a much more radical modernist style of work. All these different tensions – his interest in religion, he was a Catholic with a deeply held Catholic faith, but also classical mythology, and queer identity. You might see all of these things as being in tension but actually he seemed to find a way to sometimes express these different things in the same work which is fascinating. And the interplay between society figures like Loelia, Duchess of Westminster, but also working class models as well…fascinating contrasts really.”
Philpot’s personal passions – the male body and portraits of black men are central to this reappraisal of an artist who had fallen from view.

Glyn Philpot – Resting Acrobats, 1924, oil on canvas © Leeds Museums and Galleries UK/Bridgeman Images

These themes are keenly expressed in the dramatic portrait of Henry Thomas, and the earlier Resting Acrobats. Both paintings provide sharp windows into his sitters. The nobility of Thomas, an extraordinary depiction for its time, is in contrast to the weary, resigned expressions of the acrobats once the veneer of the stage has been removed.

Simon explains how Philpot’s formal training in London and Paris underpins his work “He had this very accomplished way of working so when he actually changed to a much more modern style…underpinning that was this incredible draughtsmanship. These things are rooted in his ability to capture expression in the figure. He was fundamentally a figurative painter. Almost every single picture is based around the figure in some way. The themes in his work are increasingly relevant today I think in terms of identity.”

This rewarding and complex exhibition provides an eloquent rediscovery of the work of Glyn Philpot with a ravishing array of work and runs at Pallant House Gallery until 23rd October.