Henry Moore, the Artist and the Patron

Henry Moore, Two Apprehensive Shelterers, 1942, watercolour and wax crayon (Hussey Bequest, Chichester District Council, 1985), by kind permission of the Henry Moore Foundation

Amongst the current exhibitions at Pallant House Gallery is a jewel like show titled ‘Henry Moore: The Artist and his Patron’ which runs until 8th March 2020. It explores the importance of the Reverend Walter Hussey, later Dean of Chichester Cathedral, in re-establishing church patronage amongst many of the most important Modern British artists of the 20th century. Central to the narrative of the exhibition is Henry Moore and his Northampton Madonna and Child.

The artist Henry Moore had links to Sussex beyond his friendship with Walter Hussey.

Visiting Chichester Cathedral as a young sculpture student in the 1920’s, Henry Moore was struck by the “deep human feeling” in the two medieval carved stone reliefs in the south quire aisle. The reliefs depict ‘The Raising of Lazarus’ and ‘Christ Arriving at the House of Mary and Martha’. Writing in response to his encounter with them Moore remarked: “I stood before them for a long time. They were just what I wanted to emulate in sculpture: the strength of directly carved form, of hard stone, rather than modelled flowing soft form.”

Moore went on to comment on the deep religious sincerity of these works. The expression on Christ’s face in the Raising of Lazarus communicates his deep sorrow. It reminds us that this is the God who knows what it is to be human: our strengths and our weaknesses; our hopes and our fears; our joys and our sorrows; and knowing us completely, loves us completely.

In 1942 The Revd. Walter Hussey, then Vicar of St Matthew’s, Northampton, first saw Henry Moore’s shelter drawings at the National Gallery in London. They depicted people taking refuge in London’s underground stations during the Blitz. Hussey would comment on the ‘dignity and three dimensional quality’ of the figures.

Hussey wished to mark St Matthew’s 50th Anniversary by commissioning a piece of art.

Moore and Hussey met for the first time at the Angel Hotel in Northampton during the blackout.

Walter Hussey asked Henry Moore ‘whether he would believe in the subject…’ The artist replied ‘Yes I would. Though whether or not I should agree with your theology, I just do not know. I think it is only through our art that we artists can come to understand your theology.’

Sir Kenneth Clark, the then Director of the National Gallery, took an active part in advising during the commissioning process and lending his support to that of the parish’s Parochial Church Council.

Henry Moore, Madonna and Child (Maquette), 1943, bronze, by kind permission of the Henry Moore Foundation

In 1942, as bombs fell upon Britain Walter Hussey commissioned Henry Moore to carve the Madonna and Child in the warm hues of Hornton stone – a very English response to all that Nazism represented.

Letters, sculptures and works on paper from the Hussey Bequest and the gallery’s collections give voice to this extraordinary story of an artist and his patron.

Today it is hard to comprehend the adverse criticism the sculpture attracted.

The Madonna and Child at Northampton is just a little larger than life-size. The deep religious sincerity and human feeling which the artist Henry Moore had noted in the Lazarus carving at Chichester Cathedral is notable in his Madonna and Child.

As you enter St Matthew’s in Northampton you are held by Mary’s gaze and as you approach the group you cannot help but be moved to place your hands upon her knees as the Christ Child, Jesus, looks straight into your eyes conveying a sense of profound love and anticipation which for Christians is at the heart of the Christmas story.

I hope your Christmas is blessed with love, peace and joy.

Andrew Bernardi, Sussex Creative and Entrepreneur

This week I am in the company of the musician and Artistic Director of the Shipley Arts Festival, Andrew Bernardi, as he prepares to launch the festival’s 2019 program of concerts across the Horsham district and beyond. Andrew is one of a number of creatives at the heart of our county’s rich arts offering.

I have long been a passionate advocate and supporter of building communities through arts and heritage in West Sussex, values which I share with Andrew Bernardi.

I ask Andrew what inspired him to become a musician. He replies “I come from a musical family, my Mother was playing piano at a Mozart concert where my parents met. They had no intention of making me a professional musician, to the contrary actually. But I realised when I was about six that I had to be a musician, that it was my vocation. My Godmother gave me my first full-sized violin and I’ve still got it. It looked big on me but I’ve only ever played full-sized violins.”

Andrew would win a place at the Skinner’s School. He continues “Everyone encouraged me in my music but it was suggested that there were safer careers.”

Andrew led the Kent Youth Orchestra. He describes how winning the Lawrence Atwell scholarship for violinists to go to the United States and Brazil with the Youth Orchestra was life changing. He says “I studied alongside a golden generation of musicians, we have all gone on to leading roles in the music world. In Brazil we stayed with top people but I became aware that the waiters came out of the Favelas and that they could have been us if we’d grown up there. It changed us and I realised that I wanted to do something for society through my music.”

Having read music at Leeds he taught at Worth Abbey where he formed their Community Orchestra and his Chamber Ensemble. The qualities of Benedictine Christian spirituality still resonate with him.

It was at Trinity College London, whilst working on his post-graduate scholarship, that Andrew’s entrepreneurial qualities were first recognised, “They told me I would be a successful violinist but as important was my ability to bring things together and make them work.” This insight has been borne out by Andrew Bernardi’s career as a violinist and by starting the Shipley Arts Festival which is now acknowledged as being one of the UK’s most highly regarded Classical Music Festivals.

Andrew’s support of young, talented musicians through his String Academy gives voice to his belief in community and creating opportunity for others.

The String Academy has strong links to the Yehudi Menuhin School thanks to Andrew’s work. It is clear that Yehudi Menuhin influenced him, “He conducted me and I led for him on several occasions. I admired his sense of humanity, his facilitation of communities through outstanding music making, and creating pathways and opportunities for young musicians – things that I aspire to.”

Andrew’s life as a violinist has taken him all over the world but it is his family and being rooted in the heart of Sussex with its gentle hills, countryside, towns and communities which feed and inspire him.

He walks in the footsteps of some illustrious musicians and composers here in Sussex including John Ireland, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Sir Edward Elgar. His work reflects a sense of calling and vocation to continue this musical tradition in our county. Through the festival and its patrons Andrew Bernardi, continues to commission new and exciting work from some of our nation’s leading contemporary composers including Roderick Williams., OBE, and Malcom Singer.

I ask him what his violin means to him. He reflects “With the Stradivarius violin I finally hear the sounds I imagined. It’s a very personal relationship a musician and their instrument.”

Relationships are important to the success of the Shipley Arts Festival and the array of international musicians who return year after year are responding to the aspirations, loyalty and vision of its Artistic Director, Andrew Bernardi.

The 2019 Shipley Arts Festival season will be exceptional. To find out more go to www.shipleyartsfestival.co.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.

Volunteers Celebrated at Amberley Museum

Some of the outstanding volunteers at The Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre outside the Fairmile Café © Pete Edgeler, Used with permission.

Last week I was invited to present a series of awards to some of the outstanding volunteers at the Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre to coincide with National Volunteers’ week.

As I walked towards the stationary steam engines I came across Dave Ballantyne and a row of gentlemen seated in their boiler suits enjoying their picnic lunches in the sun. Over our heads the beautiful sound of the Goodwood Spitfire’s Merlin engine reverberated in the lee of the Downs. As I looked up Dave said “We often see that here.”

As you walk around the museum you often hear the enthusiastic voices of volunteers before discovering them at their work. The museum is beautifully kept, constantly improving and changing thanks to this dedicated group of people. One of the latest projects is the restoration of the West Sussex County Council steam road roller and the museum is seeking to raise £2000 to finish the job.

The awards were being given in recognition of outstanding dedication and commitment. I met up with the volunteers at the Fairmile Café. The Director of the Museum, Leanne Clements, paid tribute to the diversity of volunteers and thanked them for all that they do.

Award winner Tony Turley with Rupert Toovey amongst the tool displays at Amberley © Peter Edgeler, 2018

One of the volunteers receiving an award was Peter Edgeler who, together with his fellow members of the photo group, is creating an important visual archive of the museum’s life and history. Recording history is important to our understanding of not only the past but our present and future too. Another of the award winners was Tony Turley. He was keen to show me the Tools and Trades History Society displays.

I asked Tony how his fascination with tools began. He replied “Twenty years ago I returned home with a box of tools I bought at auction. Cleaning and restoring them gave me a real sense of satisfaction and my interest began.”

Tony’s knowledge and enthusiasm for tools is infectious. I am fascinated by how often collecting objects leads to a rich path of learning and understanding.

The tools at Amberley Museum are displayed in and behind a series of glazed, bow front windows, each representing a different trade. These include carpentry, leatherworking, and agricultural tools. Tony explains “The Worshipful Company of Carpenters gave us a grant and we designed and constructed the building ourselves. When I was visiting London I saw these bow windows which had been made by their students to be marked. I asked if I could have them rather than break them up and they had five delivered to Amberley with the doors. By constructing a corridor of shop fronts it has allowed us to have the tools on display even when it’s not manned.”

The Worshipful Company of Carpenters and The Tools and Trades Association has blessed the museum which now has an additional display space and a workshop.

Tony reflects that he commonly hears visitors saying “I used to have one of these” prompting family stories and memories.
I can empathise. Objects are vital to our understanding of history as individuals and as a nation and Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre brings our social, economic and industrial history to life in a unique and exciting way.

Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre welcomes volunteers of all ages and if you would like to join in go to www.amberleymuseum.co.uk/volunteering or telephone Catherine Hawkins on 01798 831370.

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.

The Perfect Bank Holiday Destination

‘Gazer’ the raku rabbit with a herd of bouncing bunnies
‘Gazer’ the raku rabbit with a herd of bouncing bunnies

The 2017 Arundel Gallery Trail coincides with the Arundel Festival. More than 150 artists are exhibiting this August Bank Holiday weekend in over 65 venues in and around Arundel.

The opening of ceramic artist Josse Davis’ exhibition has, for me, become synonymous with the start of the Arundel Gallery Trail.

A stoneware jug titled ‘The Art Class’ by Josse Davis
A stoneware jug titled ‘The Art Class’ by Josse Davis

I catch up with Josse and his partner, Melissa Alers Hankey, in the Duff Gallery as they put the finishing touches to the exhibition. My eye is immediately taken by a large blue and white stoneware jug by Josse Davis. Its beautiful baluster form bears testimony to the skill of this talented potter. Titled ‘The Art Class’ it is wittily decorated with a nude surrounded by artists and their canvases. Josse shows me how he has painted the nude on each of the artist’s canvases from its own perspective. I comment on how these vignettes add to the scene’s playful narrative. Josse responds saying “I like to think my work makes people smile.”

Ceramic artist, Josse Davis, in the Duff Gallery, Tarrant Street, Arundel
Ceramic artist, Josse Davis, in the Duff Gallery, Tarrant Street, Arundel

Josse Davis has exhibited at the Arundel Gallery Trail every year since it began. He comments “I notice how people who came more than twenty-five years ago are now returning with their own young families talking about when they bought their first figure or pot as children”.

A display of raku ware running rabbits is sure to be a favourite with children and adults alike. With prices ranging between £15 and £50 they are an accessible way to start to collect Josse’s ceramics. Each rabbit is individually modelled with its own name. Josse says “I add the eyes last – it gives them such life.” Melissa says “Their character isn’t fully revealed until they come out of the kiln.” Raku ware acquires its crazed appearance as the molten glaze cools suddenly and it shatters.

Josse’s father, the artist Derek Davis, started The Arundel Gallery Trail with a small group of other artists. Each year the Derek Davis Prize is given in his memory. The recipient is voted for by their fellow artists exhibiting in the gallery trail. In 2016 the prize was awarded to Josse Davis.

Josse Davis’ reputation as a ceramic artist is in the ascendancy and his prices are rising with his signature pieces selling for between £400 and £800.

The Arundel Gallery Trail is open 2.00pm to 5.30pm during the week and 12 noon to 5.30pm this Bank Holiday weekend. It provides art lovers with direct access to leading Sussex artists like Josse Davis and their work. For more information on exhibiting artists and this celebration of Sussex as a centre of art go to www.arundelgallerytrail.co.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.