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 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, I think there is much cause for hope and optimism whether people are buying or selling.

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.