Toy Fundraiser at Horsham Museum

Toovey’s toy valuation event in support of the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery has become an extremely popular annual fundraising event. Toovey’s specialist toys valuer, Christopher Gale, will be at the museum on Saturday, 16th February 2018, between 10am and 12noon providing free auction valuations and advice on your toy trains, cars, Star Wars action figures, models, teddy bears, dolls and collectors’ toys.

A number of valuable toys have been discovered at previous events. Chris Gale who is donating his time explains: “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.”

For a morning of fun and free pre-sale valuations come to the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, The Causeway, Horsham, RH12 1HE on Saturday 16th February, 10am to 12 noon. Toovey’s next specialist toy sale will be held on 19th March 2018.

A Voyage of Discovery at Horsham Museum

The Maori Poi dancer, Whakarewarewa, published by the New Zealand photographer Thomas Pringle in 1907

Horsham Museum & Art Gallery’s latest exhibition ‘Voyages to the Pacific’ is inspired by the 250th Anniversary of the departure of Captain James Cook’s first voyage to Tahiti in 1768.

The exhibition draws on the museum’s remarkable collection of ethnographic material. The show highlights the interactions and exchanges that have taken place between the peoples of Europe and the Pacific over the last 250 years, including Horsham’s residents whose objects are displayed telling the story.

A collection of Pacific ethnographical objects framed against Horsham’s Causeway

Assistant Curator Rhiannon Jones says “The exhibition shows how the people of Horsham have encountered the people of the South Pacific. These objects were brought back by diplomats, sailors and wealthy people.”

“In the summer of 1768 Captain James Cook set sail from Plymouth for Tahiti hoping to track the transit of Venus. Cook’s techniques in surveying, astronomy and timekeeping were revolutionary, as was his care for his crew and the measures he took to prevent scurvy.”

There was a second charge to Cook to discover the as yet only imagined great southern continent. Cook would sail tantalisingly close, within 75 miles of Antarctica.

Rhiannon explains how this first expedition and Cook’s two subsequent voyages changed European perceptions of world geography leading to trade and colonisation.

The exhibition provides an introduction to the sociocultural anthropology of the peoples of the Pacific through objects and photographs.

My eye is caught by a photograph of the Maori Poi Dancer, Whakarewarewa. It is taken from the book ‘Maori Studies’ published by the New Zealand photographer Thomas Pringle in 1907. The Poi is a traditional Maori dance where weights are swung in rhythmic patterns on the end of tethers.

A rare 19th century Tongan or Samoan Tapa barkcloth panel

On the opposite side of the gallery a series of 19th century Tapa barkcloth panels with striking geometric abstract designs are displayed. These cloths are produced from the inner bark of young shrubs and trees by the process of soaking and beating. They are commonly found across the Pacific and Africa. Barkcloth is still used for clothing, bedding, flooring and ceremonial objects. It is short lived and old examples like this Tongan or Samoan panel are rare.

Rhiannon enthuses about a case filled with ethnographical pieces which include an 18th century pot stand from Papua New Guinea modelled as a head, wooden combs and necklaces, and a small jade totem intended to enhance fertility. I remark that this fascinating array is displayed against the backdrop of Horsham’s famous Causeway which seems to emphasise the town’s connection with the exhibition’s story and objects and she agrees.

Entrance to the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, The Causeway, Horsham, RH12 1HE, is free with permanent displays and exciting shows. Voyages to the Pacific runs until 26th January 2019. There are plenty of family Christmas activities too. For more information visit 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.

East Meets West Across the Centuries

A fine Chinese export reverse mirror glass painting, Qianlong period (1735-1796)

In the 17th and 18th centuries mercantile trade exposed the West to Chinese decorative art and, perhaps most importantly, Chinese porcelain. It had a profound influence on English tastes.

In England Chinese motifs were often incorporated into our own decorative schemes like those at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.

The £34,000 fine 18th century Chinese export reverse mirror glass painting illustrates this taste and has just been sold at Toovey’s. It is exceptionally well painted with a lady seated on a rock beside a lotus pond with conjugal pairs of pheasants, mandarin ducks and chickens; beyond a pleasure barge processes up the river with an opulent residence on the far shore.

Reverse glass paintings occupy a special position in Chinese art bringing together the genres of Chinese export art, glass working and the painting of idealised beauty. The strong use of colours and exotic flavour ensured their fashionable place in English country house collections during the 18th and later centuries.

In the 20th century Chinese export porcelain and objects from the 17th and 18th centuries once again drew the attention of western collectors.

These interests were reflected in the important single-owner collection from London which has just realised hundreds of thousands of pounds at Toovey’s. One of the features of the collection were a number of fine, rare export porcelain colourful animal, bird and human figures.

A fine, rare pair of Chinese famille rose enamelled export porcelain figure groups of seated maidens with spaniels and phoenixes, early Qianlong period (1735-1796)

Amongst these was a pair of Chinese famille rose enamelled export porcelain figure groups depicting maidens seated in a typical pose with spaniels and marvellous pink phoenixes. 21.5cm high they realised £19,000. They dated from the early Qianlong period (1735-1796) and were fitted with gilt brass candle holders and drip pans. The phoenix, or fenghuang, was the Empress of Birds in Chinese mythology signifying beauty, grace, virtue and the unity of yin and yang.

To understand the importance of this pair of figures it is perhaps helpful to note that a similar pair of figures are to be found in the exceptional Copeland Collection at The Peabody Museum, Salem, USA. The Copeland Collection is known internationally for the superb quality and impressive variety of its many rare pieces. It was put together from 1937 by the American collector, Mrs Lammot du Pont Copeland.

These figures are superb aesthetic objects expressing the form, proportion, detailed decoration, and distinctive modelling that characterize the work of a master potter. They represent the cross-cultural influences and trade between East and West giving a valuable insight into Chinese perceptions of western taste in the 18th century. Being expensive to make and ship these fragile figures were primarily made to order for wealthy private collectors and are therefore rare.

Demand for export pieces like these remains as strong amongst western collectors as it does amongst Chinese. If you would like advice on your Chinese objects Toovey’s Asian Art specialist, Tom Rowsell, can be contacted on 01903 891955 or by emailing auctions@tooveys.com.

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.

Goodwood’s Motorsport Events a Winning Combination

Katarina Kyvalova in the 1954 Cooper Jaguar T33 approaching Woodcote at the 2018 Goodwood Revival

I am really excited, I’ve just booked my tickets for the 2019 Goodwood motor racing season’s 77th GRRC Members’ Meeting, Festival of Speed and Revival. Goodwood’s quintessential British motorsport events celebrate not only the best of historic racing but also the cutting edge and contemporary in the automotive world. It’s a winning combination here in heart of West Sussex.

Once again the historic racing season will open with the 77th GRRC Member’s Meeting on the weekend of 6th and 7th April 2019. The GRRC spring Members’ Meeting captures the atmosphere of the motorsport meetings at Goodwood in the 1950s and 1960s. This celebration of motor racing is exclusively for members of the Goodwood Road Racing Club (GRRC), and the GRRC Fellowship. It has its own unique atmosphere.

This member only event allows enthusiasts, drivers and car owners to mingle in the paddocks amongst the automobiles sharing what the Duke of Richmond describes as ‘a common passion’.

The reputation of the Goodwood’s Festival of Speed continues to grow attracting many of the world’s leading racing drivers and marques. As testament to this Tesla chose to debut its hugely influential Model 3 in the UK at the 2018 Festival of Speed against the backdrop of exotic machines hurtling up the famous hill climb. The best of British was also on display with Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin, McLaren and Rolls Royce all much in evidence. The 2019 Festival of Speed is scheduled for the 4th to the 7th July.

Rupert Toovey at the 2018 Goodwood Revival

September’s Goodwood Revival has a unique and special quality to it attracting vintage outfits as well as cars. With my love of bowties, sports jackets and cords as my everyday attire I fit right in! The Revival celebrates the halcyon days of motor racing with the accompanying glamour of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.

At this year’s Revival Katarina Kyvalova, herself no stranger to Goodwood and historic motor racing, was once again driving her 1954 Cooper Jaguar T33 in the 25 minute Freddie March Memorial Trophy for sports cars made between 1952 and 1955. It’s the longest race of the weekend and Katarina’s performance once again provided a welcome reminder of the Cooper team’s competiveness and important place in sports car and Formula 1 motor racing. I love the purposeful, clean lines of the Cooper Jaguar T33, especially in British racing green.

Next year’s Revival will take place from the 13th to the 15th September 2019.

To find out more about the benefits of membership of the GRRC and GRRC Fellowship, how to join, and this year’s Festival of Speed, Goodwood Revival, and to book tickets go to www.goodwood.com/sports/motorsport. The 2018 Goodwood motoring season quickly sold out so don’t delay!

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.

Contemporary Surrealist at Pallant House Gallery

Cathie Pilkington., RA, in her studio, 2017, courtesy of Eamonn McCabe’

London based artist Cathie Pilkington., RA, has been invited to create an installation at Pallant House Gallery, as part of the Royal Academy’s 250th anniversary celebrations. The exhibition is titled ‘Cathie Pilkington: Working from Home’ and explores motherhood and domesticity in an ambiguous way.

Pilkington creates her figurative work combining traditional fine art methods of modelling, carving and painting with craft techniques. Her doll-like forms transcend the everyday causing the viewer to explore in their imaginations an unconscious reality beyond their immediate perception.

Pilkington describes her use of the doll as “a fantastic, potent thing and a lot of that is a question of material and scale. Everyone who has a doll when they are growing up undresses it to look at how it’s made. You see the plastic limbs and the soft body and the perverse discrepancy between the two; you understand the false naturalism and you somehow want it to be more convincing. I think everyone has had that kind of experience with objects that pretend to be real.”

Cathie Pilkington’s ‘Twinkle’ and ‘Pietà 1: Playing Dead’ at Pallant House Gallery

Talking about this exhibition Cathie Pilkington comments “Being able to approach such a collection of works in the intimacy of domestic architecture is one of the things which first drew me to Pallant House Gallery. I am convinced that work made on an intimate scale, involving the viewer in close proximity has as much power to deal with big subjects as any macho museum scale art.”

The early 20th century avant-garde Surrealist movement in art and literature sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind juxtaposing images in seemingly irrational ways. Cathie Pilkington’s installation takes the form of a Surrealist exposé exploring the themes of motherhood, privacy, domesticity and the unconscious.

She draws heavily on the gallery’s collection and architecture rooting her own work in the intimate context of the house’s 18th century interiors. One of the delights of this show is the way that it allows you to see the collection through new lenses.

The installation is disruptive challenging the visitor to reconsider powerful cultural imagery to reveal what the artist perceives to be at the heart of familiar narratives. Her Pieta 1: Playing Dead is particularly disturbing in the company of the figure Twinkle. The room is hung with surreal and imaginative landscapes – works from the gallery’s collection by Edward Burra, John Craxton, Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland – which adds to this series of playful but unsettling juxtapositions.

This powerful exhibition is beautiful as well as thought provoking and Pilkington’s choice of works from Pallant House Gallery’s collection is exhilarating.

‘Cathie Pilkington: Working from Home’ runs at the Pallant House Gallery, 9 North Pallant, Chichester, PO19 1TJ, throughout their winter season until 31st March 2019. For more information go to www.pallant.org.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.