The West Grinstead & District Ploughing & Agricultural Society

A threshing display at the ploughing match

This week I am in the company of Rowan Allan who for twenty-one years has been the Honorary Secretary of The West Grinstead & District Ploughing & Agricultural Society. The Society is holding its 2019 Annual Ploughing Match and Agricultural Show on Saturday 21st September, at Applesham Farm, Coombes Road, Nr Lancing, BN15 0RP.

As this year’s serving President of the society I am especially excited to once again be attending the ploughing match.
Rowan Allan says “Applesham Farm will be a popular venue. Christopher, Hugh and Sara Passmore and their team will give everyone a warm welcome – it’s our first time there and the agricultural community is looking forward to coming together once again.”

Sometimes our increasingly urban society can seem out of touch with the land. Farmers already fulfil an important role in stewarding the countryside, practising good husbandry and sustainable food production with a deep understanding and respect for the environment and the natural world. As I have visited farms across the district I have found a diversity of approaches which fits with the land each farmer works. What unites them is that they are passionate about their responsibilities and rightly proud of their long-term stewardship – there is a quality of calling and vocation in it.

Rowan Allan, the Honorary Secretary of The West Grinstead & District Ploughing & Agricultural Society

Rowan comments “Balancing one’s heritage and nature with the needs of food production is perfectly possible.”

The West Grinstead and District Ploughing Match and Agricultural Society has been holding shows for over 140 years. It seeks to re-connect town and country and educate the public.

Rowan says “The ploughing match provides a shop window for people to engage with what farming and the countryside are really about.”

I comment that it’s a great family day out with the ploughing competition, cattle and sheep shows, licenced bar, fun fair, trade stands and local produce, terrier racing, open clay shooting competitions, tug-of-war, gun dog scurry, tractor and threshing machinery and even a ferret race, there is so much to enjoy – Rowan agrees.

Since 1871 The West Grinstead and District Plough Match and Agricultural Society has been promoting best practice in the local agricultural community through its prizes and awards. Today that also includes a bursary programme which provides financial support to enable and encourage young people to take up careers in the agricultural industry.

Our landscape is one of the most important building blocks of our nation’s heritage and identity and it is wholly dependent on the life given to it by our farmers who richly deserve our thanks.

I will be supporting Rowan and the team at the 2019 West Grinstead and District Plough Match and Agricultural Show at Applesham Farm, Coombes Road Lancing, BN15 0RP on Saturday 21st September 2019. Entrance is just £6 per person with children under 14 free – it’s going to be a fantastic family day – I hope to see you there!

For more information contact Rowan Allan at H. J. Burt Steyning through www.hjburt.co.uk or go to www.westgrinsteadploughing.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.

Wisley Sculpture Trail 2019

A series of maquettes and the collage titled ‘Conversation’ by artist Michael Joseph.

This week I am in the company of Sussex artisan artist Michael Joseph who is currently exhibiting at Wisley Gardens as part of the 2019 Surrey Sculpture Society Trail.

As an aviator, engineer, inventor and conservationist, as well as an artist, Michael gives a contemporary expression to the ideals of Paul Nash, Eric Ravilious and other British artists in the early 20th century who produced designs and illustrations commercially alongside their output of fine art.
The themes which unite his interests and passions: relationships with others and the world, an understanding of materials and engineering, and the intuition of an aviator all inform Michael Joseph the artist.
I ask Michael about his creative process, he says “It’s a journey of discovery – of not knowing how the finished work will be as I set out – it’s spontaneous and ambiguous.”

I comment on how there seems to be a conversation between his paintings and sculpture. His fluidity of line is balanced with a strength of expression. The lines in his sculptures are often taken directly from the drawings in his sketch books as you can see in the various maquettes and collage, titled ‘Conversation’, displayed in his Morning room. Michael comments “There is a conversation between, line, shape and texture. I try to make the line as simple as possible leaving room for the viewer to interpret a piece for themselves, there should always be room for mystery. I seek to express not only the physicality of the sitter but also their emotions, their feelings.”

Sussex artist Michael Joseph with his sculpture ‘Tryst’ in Corten Steel

Michael explains “I enjoy the technical challenges of making art. I have a forge to bend metal into shape and a foundry for bronze. I’ve always been comfortable making things. ‘Tryst’ is made from Corten Steel which corrodes to a point and then the layer of oxidization halts the process – it matures.” In this large sculpture the man’s vulnerability and fragility is held by the strength of the female figure. The composition is united and given life by the repeated rhythms of texture and patterns. Michael says “In observing I am looking at the relational quality in my subject and in the work itself. At the centre of my art are the values of form, line and colour – distilling to get the essence of a subject.”

Michael Joseph’s work is being exhibited alongside more than 100 pieces of sculpture from some of the South East’s finest established and emerging artists, set against the beautiful backdrop of RHS Garden Wisley, Woking, Surrey, GU23 6QB. The show runs until 22nd September 2019.

Don’t miss the accompanying exhibition ‘Sculpture at Wisley 2019’ which features the work of seminal 20th and 21st century artists: Henry Moore, Lynn Chadwick, Tracey Emin, Phillip King, Henry Bruce and Philip Haas. To find out more visit www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley and www.mjartist.com.

The Bank Holiday at Borde Hill

The vibrant Mid-Summer Border at Borde Hill Garden
The vibrant Mid-Summer Border at Borde Hill Garden

This week I am returning to Borde Hill Garden near Haywards Heath to enjoy the vibrant summer borders and the 20th Anniversary Sculpture Exhibition. I am met by Andrewjohn Stephenson Clarke whose great grandfather purchased the house in 1893 and created the now Grade II* listed gardens and important plant collections.

Andrewjohn says “Borde Hill has always been an experimental garden to try new plants. The first of these were brought back by plant hunters in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.”

This spirit of adventure is alive and well under the stewardship of Andrewjohn and his wife Eleni. This is apparent in the Round Dell garden. Its contemporary design has at its centre a thin, tapering path defined by low concrete walls which leads you through the rich foliage and planting. Amongst these are a number of exciting new specimens found by contemporary plan hunters, including varieties of Schefflera, and unusual evergreens like Daphniphyllum macropodum.

I love the strong summer colours at Borde Hill. The Mid-Summer Border, just off the South lawn, delights with its vibrant coloured perennials, grasses and shrubs.
The garden reveals itself as a series of rooms. The sculptures compliment the planting and vistas allowing us to see the garden in new ways.

Devon based artist Zoe Singleton’s sculpture ‘The Turning Tide’ carved from Kilkenny Fossil Stone at Borde Hill
Devon based artist Zoe Singleton’s sculpture ‘The Turning Tide’ carved from Kilkenny Fossil Stone at Borde Hill

My eye is taken by a sculpture by the Devon based artist, Zoe Singleton who works predominately in stone natural to the British Isles. It is titled ‘The Turning Tide’ and is carved from Kilkenny Fossil Stone. It sits dramatically on its Larch plinth against the backdrop of Borde Hill’s 200 acres of parkland and woodland. The rhythm and movement of the shoal of fish seems to be echoed in the landscape.

Writing about her work Zoe has said ‘My work is frequently described as “poetic and lyrical”, garden sculpture being inspired by my love of gardening as well as the dramatic coastline of the South West and the rugged geology of Dartmoor which has a continued presence in my work.’ Her words resonate with Borde Hill Garden.

The lives of Andrewjohn and Eleni Stephenson Clarke are bound to this place and the garden in a very personal way. Their forward looking stewardship ensures that the past is valued and preserved but that the garden is constantly evolving and changing in a very contemporary way.

Why not enjoy the art and this beautiful garden in the company of family and friends this coming August Bank Holiday weekend. There is plenty for children to enjoy including an adventure playground. The 20th Anniversary Sculpture Exhibition runs until the 30th September. For more information on opening times and forthcoming events go to www.bordehill.co.uk or telephone 01444 450326.

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.

Postcards from Sussex

 

A Sussex postcard titled ‘Steam Roller in Difficulties, Littlehampton, Jan 8, 1914’
A Sussex postcard titled ‘Steam Roller in Difficulties, Littlehampton, Jan 8, 1914’

As you know I love to send and receive postcards at this time of year and this week I am in the company of Toovey’s Director, Nicholas Toovey, who is celebrating another sell out Postcard and Paper Collectables auction. Nicholas says “The stamps, cigarette cards, letters and autographs were all buoyant but it was the postcards that stood out. It’s these collectors’ specialisms which are today’s boom markets.”

He continues “This amazing photographic postcard titled ‘Steam Roller in Difficulties, Littlehampton, Jan 8, 1914’ could have easily been titled ‘And you thought you were having a bad day!’ The scene was described contemporaneously in the Worthing Gazette as ‘a rather startling incident at the junction of Howard-road and Howard-place…the task of lifting the roller out of the hole and placing it on a firm surface again was by no means an easy one, and the operations were the centre of much interest for the greater part of the morning. It was half past two o’clock in the afternoon when the work was completed.’ The postcard sold for £260. It once again highlights that the market for Sussex postcards at Toovey’s salerooms is really buoyant!”

A Sussex postcard titled ‘Accident to Motor Mail Van, Brighton, Aug 25, 1909’
A Sussex postcard titled ‘Accident to Motor Mail Van, Brighton, Aug 25, 1909’

Nicholas draws my attention to another calamity depicted on a postcard, titled ‘Accident to Motor Mail Van, Brighton, Aug 25, 1909’ which realised £95. He says “It shows the mishap that befell the ‘A 8757’ in Preston Road.”
I comment how I loved the early motor racing scene and the people promenading in an album of some 120 Brighton and Hove photographic postcards. Nicholas explains that the album fetched one of the highest prices of the sale when his gavel fell at £1300. He says “The postcards showed many less typical scenes of the seaside town, including scenes of social history and unusual street views.”

Vintage Advertising Postcard for Harris's Sausages
Vintage Advertising Postcard for Harris’s Sausages

I cannot believe that a postcard with the slogan ‘Chief of the Clan MacSausage’ could possibly be connected with Sussex. Nicholas smiles and explains “It’s a colour postcard advertising Harris’s Sausages but on the reverse it has an overprint for Harris’s Sausage Restaurant in West Street, Brighton. He was the self-styled ‘Sausage King’. A colourful character – he was often seen wearing a top hat and evening dress around the London markets. His sons were named ‘Number One’, ‘Number Two’ and ‘Number Three’ which gives a measure of the man.” The postcard sold for £40.

These postcards provide a remarkable visual insight into our social history and it is easy to see why they attract such a strong following.

Nicholas is still inviting entries for Toovey’s next sale of Paper Collectables, featuring postcards, stamps, cigarette cards, autographs, photographs and ephemera which will be held on Tuesday 8th October.

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.

“You never know when you’ll make your next big discovery…”

Toovey’s Specialist Mark Stonard

I am in conversation with Toovey’s specialist Mark Stonard as he remarks “You never know when you’ll make your next big discovery in the auction world but it happens more often than you would think.” Mark explains how a couple recently arrived at Toovey’s reception for a free-presale valuation. He says “They were carrying a cardboard box no bigger than a shoe box. They had no idea whether the items in the box were valuable. It was filled with treasures and amongst them was the most remarkable collection of early coins.”

A Charles I Newark besieged shilling dated 1645
A Charles I Newark besieged shilling dated 1645

Mark shows me a Charles I Newark besieged shilling from the collection dated 1645 with an old ink-written collector’s ticket. Mark says “Siege money was minted during the Civil War in Newark-on-Trent in the third and longest siege between 1645 and 1646. Much of it was made from cut up Church plate and other valuables to answer the besieged Royalist’s need for money. On some of the coins you can see the original decoration from the objects they were cut from though this coin shows no evidence of this. All the time you’ve got a mint producing coins it’s a symbol of state – so for Charles I and his supporters this coin was a political statement too.”

I ask Mark how much a coin like this is worth and he replies “It’s just been sold in Toovey’s specialist coin auction for £1600.”

An Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) hammered penny from the Steyning Mint
An Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) hammered penny from the Steyning Mint

I am excited to find an Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) hammered penny from the Steyning Mint which has just realised £400. Mark comments “This coin is amongst the earliest from this collection. Look at the obverse with its facing bust of the king.” There was a mint at Steyning from the end of King Canute’s (1016-1035) reign, which was possibly the successor to the mints of Burpham and Cissbury.

An Elizabeth I milled issue shilling
An Elizabeth I milled issue shilling

I have always found Elizabeth I an inspiring historical figure. Mark points out an Elizabeth I milled issue shilling that has just sold for £1800. The depiction of Elizabeth I on the obverse is extraordinary.

He explains “Milled coins were minted for the first time in 1561 in the reign of Elizabeth I. They were the first coins to be produced employing a mechanical screw-press powered by a horse. Their production was initially overseen by a Frenchman, Eloye Mestrelle. But coins were still being produced more quickly by hand so the production of milled coins was short-lived.”

I ask Mark which markets are booming at auction and he responds “The specialist collectors’ fields like coins, jewellery and medals without a doubt.”
If you would like to discover if your coins and collectables are forgotten treasure contact Mark Stonard by telephoning 01903 891955.

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.