Easter – A Pilgrimage from Tragedy to Hope

The St Mary Magdalene Chapel, Chichester Cathedral, with Graham Sutherland’s ‘Noli me tangere’

Easter in the Christian tradition marks a pilgrimage from tragedy towards hope. These themes are given powerful voice in Graham Sutherland’s paintings of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.

Sutherland’s 1947 version of the ‘Crucifixion’ from the Hussey Bequest is displayed at Pallant House Gallery. It illustrates the artist’s obsession with thorns as metaphors for human cruelty; their jagged lines are reflected throughout the composition. Sutherland acknowledged the influence of photographs taken by the American military in the Nazi concentration camps at Belsen, Auschwitz and Buchenwald on his Crucifixions remarking “many of the tortured bodies looked like figures deposed from crosses”. His 1947 Crucifixion depicts Jesus’ body hanging lifeless on the cross. The shocking red of Christ’s blood is accentuated by the fertile green. There is agony in the body’s posture, the weight clearly visible in the angular shoulders, chest and distorted stomach. This is a God who understands and shares in human suffering. Graham Sutherland, a Roman Catholic, was sustained by his Christian faith all his life.

Graham Sutherland’s ‘Crucifixion’ 1947 at Pallant House Gallery

Sutherland gave voice to a common story. His Crucifixions reflected people’s experience of evil in the world and yet spoke loudly of the triumph of hope in response to the tragedy of violence and war. They sadly resonate with our own times.

Graham Sutherland’s vibrant oil on canvas ‘Noli me tangere’ of 1961 was commissioned by Walter Hussey for the St Mary Magdalene Chapel in Chichester Cathedral.

The painting depicts the moment on that first Easter morning when Mary Magdalene becomes aware that she is in the presence of her risen Lord who has just spoken her name. As she reaches out to touch him his gesture stops her. The angular composition of the figures, plants and staircase allude to the Passion narratives which lead up to and include Jesus’ crucifixion. At the centre of the painting is Jesus Christ dressed in white symbolising his holiness and purity. Christ’s finger points towards God the Father symbolising His presence. Graham Sutherland invites us into the narrative at this liminal moment so that we, like Mary, might acknowledge Jesus, our teacher and friend, as advocate and redeemer of the whole world.

Here in the story of Jesus we witness the triumph of hope and love over evil and hatred.

There are a series of services at Chichester Cathedral in the coming days to mark Holy Week and Easter. For more information and times go to www.chichestercathedral.org.uk. To find out more about Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, visit to www.pallant.org.uk.

Eduardo Paolozzi – An Artistic Bridge Between Post War Britain and America

Eduardo Paolozzi – ‘The British Library, Newton after Blake’, plaster relief, signed, titled and dated 1995 in pencil verso

The British artist Eduardo Paolozzi claimed to have embraced “…the iconography of the New World. The American magazine represented a catalogue of an exotic society, bountiful and generous, where the event of selling tinned pears was transformed in multi-coloured dreams…” This fascination with American culture is clearly expressed in in his art. In the late 1940s and early 1950s a cold-war generation of artists in Britain began to turn towards New York for inspiration rather than Paris. Paolozzi had a foot firmly in both camps. He emerges as an artistic bridge between post-war Britain and the US.

One of Paolozzi’s most celebrated sculptures is ‘Newton after Blake’ made for the forecourt of the British Library. It was commissioned by the British Library’s architect the late Colin St John Wilson, who was also responsible for the Pallant House Gallery extension in Chichester. The plaster bas relief titled ‘The British Library, Newton after Blake’ sees the theme repeated. It sold at Toovey’s for £460. Eduardo Paolozzi was fascinated by the artist William Blake’s image of Sir Isaac Newton from 1795. In Blake’s depiction the scientist appears oblivious to all around him, consumed by the need to redact the universe to mathematical proportion. Paolozzi explained of his own sculpture that “…Newton sits on nature, using it as a base for his work. His back is bent in work, not submission, and his figure echoes the shape of rock and coral. He is part of nature.”

Eduardo Paolozzi – Bash, screenprint on wove paper, signed, dated 1971, and editioned 164/2000 in pencil

Alongside Paolozzi’s cultural icons and totems the resilience and fragility of the human person and the influence of humankind’s relationship with technology is expressed through the culture of science fiction, and robots also recur as a theme in his work. The complicated array of influences are often collaged into a single work as can be seen in the screenprint Bash which realised £340 at Toovey’s despite being from an unimaginably large edition of 2000. The geometric qualities of his art speaks of the machine in our age, and the influence of boogie woogie. A rich collage which, for him, described modernism.

Paolozzi’s prints and plaster reliefs give voice to the idea of relationship between collage and image making. The prints with their often vibrant colour allowed the artist to explore visual comparisons between music and drawing. They are also connected with Paolozzi’s sculptural reliefs.

Sussex Heritage Trust 2024 Awards Launched at Berwick

Sussex Heritage Trust Chairman David Cowan and Rupert Toovey at Berwick Church

Leading architects, artisans and supporters gathered at St Michael and All Angels, Berwick, East Sussex for the launch of the 2024 Sussex Heritage Trust Awards.

Sussex Heritage Trust Chairman, David Cowan thanked The Revd. Peter Blee, headline sponsors Irwin Mitchell and all gathered for their hard work and support.

The church’s fine decorative scheme has recently been sensitively restored. It was commissioned by Bishop George Bell of Chichester. Bell was a great patron of the arts. He wished to see churches once more filled with colour and beauty. Eternal truths would be proclaimed anew in modern art, poetry and music. More people would be drawn into the Christian community by the revival of this old alliance and renewed vitality. Bell founded the Sussex Churches Art Council. Relying on generous patrons, like the famous economist John Maynard Keynes, he began to commission work. Keynes, a frequent visitor to Charleston, was close to Duncan Grant.

During the summer and autumn of 1940 the Battle of Britain was fought over the skies of Sussex. The Luftwaffe failed to defeat the R.A.F. but the Germans continued the Blitz into the May of 1941. Against this backdrop, Bishop Bell commissioned Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell to paint St Michael and All Angels. The parish church at Berwick is just a few miles from the artists’ home at Charleston.

Writing to her daughter Angelica Bell in 1941, Vanessa Bell proclaimed that Charleston was “all a-dither with Christianity”. Large panels were prepared to be painted on in the barn at Charleston. Family, friends and neighbours were used as models. These well known Christian stories were retold in paint and set in the Sussex landscape.

Sponsors Matthew Baker of NFU, Nicholas Toovey of Toovey’s and Daniel Grainge of Kreston Reeves

Initially the project met with local opposition but Kenneth Clark and Frederick Etchells acted as expert witnesses and the scheme was accepted. At the time Kenneth Clark was director of the National Gallery in London and Surveyor of the King’s Pictures.

The Sussex Heritage Trust’s work is as important today in promoting best practice in our county’s built environment and landscape whilst encouraging and supporting talented young people into careers in conservation, building and horticulture. I am delighted that Toovey’s, alongside a number of Sussex companies, remain long-term sponsors and supporters of their important work.

The closing date for entries for this year’s Sussex Heritage Trust Awards is 22nd March. To find out more visit sussexheritagetrust.org.uk.

The House of Boucheron and The Art Deco

An Art Deco 18ct white gold Boucheron, diamond and aquamarine dress clip

Over millennia jewellery has held a fascination for humankind bringing together timeless gems, the skill of the craftsman and the beauty of the jewel. Jewellery often marks important moments in our lives, points of love, and the procession of history. Jewellery evolves to the delight of successive generations.

Amongst the leading designers and makers of the 20th century was the house of Boucheron. This French firm represents a family dynasty founded by Frederic Boucheron in 1858 who opened his first store in the Galerie de Valois at Palais Royal in Paris. The cornerstone of Boucheron’s reputation for making pieces of the finest quality was seeded in 1866 when he won a Gold Medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1867.

Jewellery designs from earlier periods have always been reinterpreted and adapted over the centuries with collectors prepared to pay a premium for original pieces. Alongside date and the quality of the stones the essential ingredient is the eye of a designers and makers like Boucheron and the skill of the maker.

In the first decades of the 20th century mainstream taste gravitated towards restrained clean lines.

These same qualities can be found in the Art Deco. Art Deco was a fashionable style in the inter-war years of the 20th century. It co-existed with machine age styles and modernism with clean lines and geometric designs. Art Deco combined the styles of early 20th century modernism with the avant-garde employing the fine craftsmanship and rich materials of French classical design. The principles of Art Deco chimed with the classical but with a new and fresh expression in contrast to the Art Nouveau which preceded it.

An Art Deco Boucheron Paris black onyx and black enamelled brooch, designed as a stylized feather mounted with cushion shaped diamonds

Boucheron embraced this new style as can be seen in the delicate design of the gold, black onyx and black enamelled brooch designed as a stylized feather mounted with cushion shaped diamonds.

The small Art Deco Boucheron 18ct white gold clip’s beautifully conceived fan design is set with circular cut diamonds set off by the delicate blue of the calibre cut aquamarines.

Both jewels were detailed ‘Boucheron’ and sold for £5000 and £12000 respectively at Toovey’s.

Throughout the 20th century the house of Boucheron remained one of the world’s great jewellery designers and makers. Queen Elizabeth II had a collection of Boucheron jewellery. Today the House of Boucheron continues as one of the world’s great luxury brands and delights collectors around the world.