Adventure and Science

“It is remarkable and hopeful that exploration is so often central to our human understanding”

An early 1960s American Replogle Globes Inc model of the Moon

On the 20th July 1969 Neil Armstrong stepped from the lunar module onto the surface of the Moon and spoke those famous words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. It had taken just eight years for the project to come to fulfilment after President John F Kennedy had announced America’s intention to land a man on the moon. The Apollo program began in 1963

The watch chosen by NASA and worn by the Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin throughout the mission was the Omega Speedmaster. The watch has been immortalised by this association and those examples which pre-date, or are of the time of the moon landings, command a great premium amongst collectors, like the example you see here which has just sold in a Toovey’s specialist watch sale for £11,000. The rare Omega Speedmaster chronograph steel cased gentleman’s bracelet wristwatch, Ref. 2998-61, dates from around 1962 and has the famous signed and jewelled 321 caliber movement.

A rare 1962 Omega Speedmaster chronograph steel cased gentleman’s bracelet wristwatch

It is hard to imagine that humanity had no understanding of the dark of the side of the Moon. Because of the Moon’s orbit in relation to our own it was hidden from view here on Earth. In 1959 the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft took a series of images and it was not until 1965 that the Soviet Zond 3 probe once again photographed the far side of the Moon.

The printed tin model of the Moon was manufactured by the American company Replogle Globes Inc and produced by its Director Robert I. Johnson. It dates from the early1960s like the Omega Speedmaster. The far side of the Moon is blank on this globe illustrating the gap in the West’s understanding.

There was a nobility of purpose in this lunar exploration which gave voice to that human desire to understand our world, the universe and our place in it – though there can be no doubt that the urgency and catalyst that drove it was the rivalry between two world superpowers.

It seems that we may be witnessing a new space race with China’s ambitions to voyage to our neighbouring planets matched by the renaissance of America’s desire to send humankind into space once again.

Objects which tangibly connect us to the procession of human history are always prized by antiquarians and successive generations of collectors.

It is remarkable and hopeful that exploration is so often central to our human understanding of our world and the universe we inhabit; something which the Apollo missions embody so eloquently.

Design and Artistry at Wedgwood

A rare, large Wedgwood pottery jardinière painted by Alfred H Powell, height 32cm

As the important ceramic manufacturer Wedgwood entered the 20th century there was a desire to maintain its association with the design and manufacture of art wares.

By the end of the 19th century the influence of William Morris’s Arts and Crafts Movement had established a widespread enthusiasm for design and decoration based on its traditional craftsmanship and simple forms. The movement was deeply informed by the romantic socialism of John Ruskin and William Morris which responded to the often harsh realities of 19th century industrialised work by advocating a return to an age of ‘free’ craftsmen.

So, when the Arts and Crafts architect, designer and artist Alfred H Powell (1865-1960) sent a series of designs to Wedgwood in 1903 they quickly realised their potential.

Powell had studied and worked for J D Sedding in his architectural practice. He was heavily influenced by Sedding who had been an early advocate for the Arts and Crafts Movement and its principles. Powell would work there as an architect until 1892.

Ill health led Powell to spend time abroad, though he lived for a short time in Guildford, Surrey.

In 1901 he moved to Sapperton in Gloucestershire to join his friends Ernest Gimson and the Barnsley brothers. Together they established the Cotswold Group with workshops at Pinbury.

Powell’s successful approach to Wedgwood ensured a broader audience for the arts and crafts aesthetic. With great skill he adapted its style and principles to suit the demands of industrial production. His influence brought about a revival of hand painting at Wedgwood’s Etruria factory not only on art ware, like the 1930s delicately decorated jardinière painted by Powell himself with its naturalistic landscapes and flowers, but also for large scale production tablewares.

A rare Wedgwood Art Deco pale blue Jasperware Bicentenary Competition vase, designed by Emmanuel Tjerne, height 48cm

The factory’s founder Josiah Wedgwood was famous for his vitreous jasperwares in the late 18th century which he decorated in the Neo-Classical taste.
Jasperware decoration was re-interpreted in the Art Deco taste by the Danish glass designer Emmanuel Tjerne to win Wedgwood’s international competition to design a vase to mark the bicentenary of Josiah’s birth in 1930. The vases were produced in a very small edition of about sixteen and were given to the judges and designer.

The Wedgwood Powell jardinière and Tjerne’s vase sold in Toovey’s specialist ceramic sales for £1800 and £2500 respectively proving that when design and artistry come together, as it did at Wedgwood in the early 20th century, it is always celebrated by collectors.

Music of a Different Kind at Goodwood

The 1979 Hepworth-Cheverolet GB1

Goodwood by the Sea is one of the Shipley Arts Festival’s most famous and popular commissions. Composed by the internationally celebrated baritone and composer, Roderick Williams, it was inspired by the Goodwood Estate. But as Andrew Bernardi, the Festival’s Director, and I set out for the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed it was to celebrate music of a different kind – the music of V8 and V10 racing engines and the electric cars as they sped up the famous hill climb.

Andrew Bernardi at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

In the woods we witnessed the extraordinary power and poise of the 1980s Group B rally cars and the spectacle of the rough terrain Safari Championship buggies as they jumped and swerved around the purpose built course.

The speed and acceleration of the electric cars was other. I have never seen anything move up Goodwood’s hill as fast as Thomas Yates’s McMurtry Spiérling (the name is apparently Irish for thunderstorm). It looks like a cross between a Batmobile and a Le Mans prototype racer. The dual electric engines deliver 0-60mph in under two seconds and a top speed of 200mph. The car made a sound like a jet engine thanks to its fans which generate 2000kg of downforce. As it broke the all-time Goodwood record it moved so fast it sucked hay out of the trackside bales!

Another car which created an elemental noise was the Hepworth family’s 1979 Hepworth-Cheverolet GB1 with its 5.0-litre V8 engine. The car was the final BRM F1 car but never raced in the British Aurora F1 series which it was built for. The Hepworths used the chassis to build a ground-effect Can-Am car. Although it was shipped to the USA it again never raced. More recently the Hepworth family rebuilt the car and its racing pedigree was begun here in Sussex at the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed. It was wonderful to witness it thundering up Goodwood’s famous hill climb.

I couldn’t believe that BMW’s M division is only 50 years old. The magnificent sculpture in front of the house appeared to throw some of the most famous M-series BMWs up into the air as other examples of the marque rushed up the track celebrating this important anniversary.

Goodwood with its remarkable celebration of cars and speed really did provide music and a festival of a unique and different kind.
I can’t wait for the 2022 Goodwood Revival weekend which runs from 16th to 18th September.

To find out more and to book your tickets visit and for the Shipley Arts Festival go to

Landmark Exhibition of Camden Town Group at Brighton

Spencer Frederick Gore – West Pier Brighton, oil, circa 1913 © RPMT
Spencer Frederick Gore – West Pier Brighton, oil, circa 1913 © RPMT

The current exhibition Down from London: Spencer Gore & Friends, at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, draws on the gallery’s significant collection of Camden School Group paintings to re-tell the story of the celebrated and influential ‘Exhibition of English Post Impressionists, Cubists and Others’ which put Sussex at the centre of the Modern British Art movement.

Between 16th December 1913 and 14th January 1914 the Brighton Art Gallery became London by the Sea. The Camden School, under the presidency of Spencer Frederick Gore, was invited to select the work for the exhibition. It was a group of artists always given to creative divisions and was born out of the Fitzroy Group, New English Art Club and the London Group. It was the first time that Post-Impressionist and Modern art was shown outside London.

Walter Sickert had acknowledged that scope for ‘the free expression of newer artistic thought’ was needed. The original exhibition’s title highlighted the artistic divisions within the group which caused it to be divided into three rooms.
The first two rooms contained work by those in the more traditional camp of Spencer Gore, Harold Gilman and Lucien Pissarro. It is these sections of the original exhibition that the current show focuses on.

The third ‘Cubist Room’ had a separate introduction written by Wyndham Lewis. In it he embraced Futurism and Cubism. This section of the exhibition included major works by Jacob Epstein, Eric Wadsworth, David Bomberg and C. R. W. Nevinson. Sickert and Pissarro were appalled by this new work.
Amongst my favourite paintings in the current exhibition, and one which was in the original show, is Spencer Frederick Gore’s West Pier, Brighton which he painted in 1913. The scene shimmers in the brilliant light illuminated by the bold, blocky use of colour given life by Gore’s use of short, visible brushstrokes built up in textural layers.

Harold Gilman – The Coral Necklace, oil, circa 1914 © RPMT

Harold Gilman was also a central figure in the Camden Town Group. In his painting The Coral Necklace he employs a thick impasto applying the paint in generous blobs and smears. The rich pink wallpaper sets the tone of the painting but it is the red coral necklace which focuses our attention on the sitter’s face and hands. The portrait is thought to depict Gilman’s Austrian friend, Mary L. The scene is intimate and reflective.

Over a hundred years after the original landmark exhibition, Down from London: Spencer Gore & Friends revisits the influential work of the Camden Town Group. This beautiful exhibition runs until 11th September 2022. To find out more visit