100 Years of the Royal British Legion

The Revd. Canon Kathryn Windslow, Rector of Storrington, leading a Service of Remembrance accompanied by the Royal British Legion, Storrington Branch, and Royal Navy Association standard bearers, Des Knight and Richard Shenton

This week I am in the company of the Royal British Legion Storrington Branch secretary Stuart Duncan who is honoured that our branch will be taking part in the 100th anniversary of the Royal British Legion.

Stuart explains how a Torch of Remembrance will be crossing East and West Sussex to mark 100 years of the Royal British Legion in Sussex. On Friday 27th August at 11:00am the torch will come to Storrington where a service of celebration and thanksgiving will be held in the grounds of St Mary’s Parish Church.

During the ceremony the Torch will pass from a Veteran to a member of our youth community signifying the passing of responsibility for remembering the fallen in war from one generation to the next.

The British Legion was formed on 15 May 1921, bringing together four national organisations of ex-Servicemen that had established themselves after the First World War

Every year the Royal British Legion leads the nation in commemorating and honouring service and sacrifice.

They remember those who lost their lives on active service in all conflicts; from the beginning of the Great War right up to the present day, as well as all those who have served and their families.

Every year in November, the Royal British Legion distributes paper poppies to raise vital funds to help today’s Armed Forces community.

In Storrington in 1919 at the Market Rooms by the White Horse Hotel a meeting of World War I veterans under the chairmanship of Capt George Graham formed the Comrades of the Great War. In 1920 Lt Col Ravenscroft donated some land and with support from the residents of Storrington and the Peace Celebrations committee a hut was built for the comrades on the site of the present social club. It was opened on Armistice Day by Mrs King of Fryern House. The club grew rapidly and in October 1921 it became the Storrington Branch of the British Legion.

Today the Storrington Branch has some 65 members who meet for lunch on St George’s Day and Armistice Day. They are a close community who care not only for members of their own branch but for the men and women of our armed services. Each year through the Poppy appeal they raise more than £10,000.
As Chaplain to the Royal British Legion Storrington Branch I am looking forward to leading the service and celebration with The Revd. Canon Kathryn Windslow, Rector of Storrington. Everyone is welcome at the ceremony and at the Old School afterwards.

Restoration and Renewal at Parham

Parham’s Head Gardener, Andrew Humphris in the greenhouse

In the first of two articles I am returning to Parham visiting Lady Emma and her husband James Barnard as they embark on a major restoration of their celebrated walled gardens at Parham.

It is some 28 years since Lady Emma and James came to Parham with their young family. Their time here has been marked by renewal and long-term stewardship in this ancient, processional place.

Emma explains “My great-grandparents, Clive and Alicia Pearson, fell in love with Parham as soon as they saw it. The house was in a poor state when they bought it in 1922.”

Lady Emma and James have a similar sense of long-term stewardship and the importance of ongoing renewal so I am excited to hear about the plans for the restoration of the walled gardens as we set off to find their recently appointed Head Gardener, Andrew Humphris.

I ask Andrew how he is settling in to his new role at Parham and the ongoing restoration of the gardens, he replies “This place is just fantastic there is so much potential. Restoring and maintaining a garden has to be a collaborative thing otherwise it never works. It needs a long-term relationship with the garden and the family.” He turns to Lady Emma and James and says “I want to make it special for you – and the team.”

Parham’s gardens in the crisp spring weather

There is a generosity, humility and rootedness apparent in the way Andrew speaks about a lifetime in horticulture, accompanying and following in his father’s footsteps with his wife, Jo.

I ask Andrew how he would describe himself, a horticulturalist or a garden designer perhaps. He pauses, smiles and replies “I’m a gardener.”
Andrew begins to speak about his work “In the garden I’m thinking about what I’m doing [and] in the moment inspiration comes at unexpected times. There has to be a whole to it but the detail matters, lifting a plant to weed – a love for a plant.” He continues “It’s important to pass things on too. You have to keep momentum, constantly being critical to keep it going forward and fresh.”

I comment on how Parham is famous for its borders and Andrew says “I love border colours” reflecting wryly he continues “striving for perfection in a border though with the weather and variables – still it’s the aim.”

The garden is full of activity and a sense of renewal as the garden team is clearing borders to deal with the bind weed. Other newly planted areas like the white border provide hopeful windows onto the future of this beautiful place. It is exciting to see the restoration in process.

Whether you are visiting for the first time or returning to an old friend, as I often do, Parham never fails to delight with its gardens and sense of history. Check out Parham’s new website www.parhaminsussex.co.uk and book your visit to the gardens.

Patrick Hughes – Reverspective

Patrick Hughes – ‘Poppish’, mixed media 3D multiple including archival inkjet and hand-painted acrylic, signed ‘A/P’, and editioned 13/15 in pencil, published by Reverspective Ltd, circa 2019

Patrick Hughes (b.1939) is acknowledged as being one of the major artists of contemporary British art.

He has been linked with the British Surrealists and Pop Art. However, in that very British way Patrick Hughes has followed his own particular artistic path.

He has been producing his reverse perspectives since 1970, calling them ‘reverspectives’. Speaking about his reverspectives Hughes is quoted as saying “When the principles of perspectives are reversed and solidified in sculpted paintings [and mixed media] something extraordinary happens; the mind is deceived into believing the impossible, that a static painting can move of its own accord.”

Born in Birmingham in October 1939 Patrick Hughes claims inspiration from his childhood whilst staying at his grandmother’s house. Growing up during the Second World War he would shelter from the bombing with his mother in a cupboard under the stairs. The reverse perspective afforded from seeing the stairs from below, and the infinite perspective formed by standing between two mirrors at his grandmother’s house speak into his reverspectives.

Today Patrick Hughes lives and works in London. His works are represented in many international collections including the British Library and the Tate Gallery.

The playful and visually arresting mixed media 3D multiple, ‘Poppish’, you see here was sold at Toovey’s for £2250. It initially appears to be a flat surface but even subtle movement by the viewer reveals the three-dimensional surface which underpins the composition, accentuating the depth of perspective which appears to shift with remarkable speed creating a sense of movement.

The illusion is created by depicting the scene in reverse to the relief surface – the most distant parts of the gallery interior are painted and printed on the bits of the relief surface which project the farthest. The rectilinear forms of the art gallery and paintings serve to heighten the illusory impact.

The surreal gallery space with its references to artists, in this case Roy Lichenstein, Damien Hirst, Keith Haring, David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Bansky and Hughes himself with his rainbow filled dustbin, is a common theme.

Patrick Hughes work allows us to explore our place in the world and our understanding of the space we inhabit in each moment of our lives.

Prints and editions range in date from the 15th to the 21st century and are one of the strongest markets at auction.

I remain excited by how strong the interest has been during the lockdown for a wide range of collectors’ items, antiques and art.

By the time you read this Toovey’s will have reopened and be able to welcome the public at its salerooms again by appointment. We have a series of specialist sales already scheduled for the coming weeks so do phone or email us to make an appointment to meet our valuers, virtually or in person.

Unfurling from the Furlough

Rupert Toovey, Director of Toovey’s, in our Spring Gardens auction rooms at Washington, West Sussex

It is with a sense of anticipation and excitement that I am preparing to reopen Toovey’s auction rooms to the public. The ‘R’ number willing, we will open on Monday 15th June.

Toovey’s closed temporarily on 23rd March to support government policy and our NHS. We feel that it has been vital for Toovey’s and so many others to close and to do our bit to help to defeat COVID-19 as a way of protecting and supporting our community here in Sussex.

I was glad to be able to safely furlough most of my team, but I was unprepared for how emotional it would be to lock the doors to the salerooms that week. It has been financially costly too, but safety has always been our first priority and never more important than in these unprecedented times.

There has been much to tend to during this period and I have been overwhelmed by the generous and encouraging notes from our clients and friends.

The government’s most recent online advice to businesses and the NHS pages on COVID-19 have provided a framework which has shaped our thinking and allowed us to prepare risk assessments and a common sense Health and Safety response to keep staff and visitors safe when we reopen.

We’ve created new reception and valuations spaces for the public bringing their treasured possessions to Toovey’s for auction. We’ve ordered direction signs, queuing and viewing point mats to ensure social distancing. The numbers of people viewing our sales at any one time will be limited with timed slots available by appointment. Listen to me being excited by Health and Safety but it’s at its best when it’s practical and empowering!

I strongly believe that in the post COVID-19 world there will be a real need for the continued rise of liberal capitalism; firms which are informed by servant leadership, a sense of care and responsibility to the teams and communities which they serve and which support them. Where firms balance this approach with generous and good stewardship of their resources it is my experience that companies flourish because of these values and not in spite of them.

Many nations are ahead of us in the fight against this dreadful disease. We are receiving enquiries from China and across the world as well as the United Kingdom from collectors and specialist dealers really keen to buy objects at our auctions. In concert with the contemporary blessings of the online world, and especially tooveys.com, I think there is much cause for hope and optimism whether people are buying or selling.