Horsham and the Hendersons

A view of the 18th century Yonghe Lamasery Buddhist temple in Beijing taken by Rupert Toovey on a business trip to China for Toovey’s

Travel in our own times has become much more democratic and a younger generation’s fascination with exploring the world with their backpacks should, perhaps, be unsurprising given the British nation’s international mercantile history as traders, explorers and adventurers.

The Chinese bronze censer in the form of a temple dog, brought back by the Hendersons
A view of a 19th century Chinese street taken from one of Robert Henderson’s albums

Robert Henderson was born in 1851, the year that Prince Albert proclaimed the importance of international trade to wealth, peace and understanding between nations through the Great Exhibition of 1851. The Crystal Palace was designed by Sir Joseph Paxton and first erected in Hyde Park. The exhibition inspired a series of trade expositions across the globe including Paris and Philadelphia. It seeded the idea of the Global Economy. Robert Henderson was himself part of the 19th century global economy. He was a director of numerous companies including R & J Hendersons East India Merchants, The Bangalore Jute Factory Co. Ltd, India Rubber, Gutta Percha & Telegraph Works Co. Ltd and the London Assurance Corporation. This influential business leader was to become a director of the Bank of England.

Emma Henderson’s father, Jonathan Hargreaves, owned a printing firm and in 1862 the family had moved from Hampshire to Rome for his health. He did not recover and died in the January of 1863. The family returned home to Cuffnells in Lyndhurst, Hampshire. When her mother died in 1872 she left Emma £12,000.

There are four albums of remarkable photographs at the Horsham Museum which are thought to have been collected by Robert Henderson. The photos reflect Robert’s extensive tours of the Far East and America in 1874 and 1875. He travelled in India, Singapore, Jahore, Java, Borneo, Siam, China, Hong Kong, Japan and America. Many of the photographs chosen were produced by the company Bourne and Beato. Photographs by this firm are highly regarded by today’s historians and collectors. They speak of the international lives led by Robert and Emma Henderson (neé Hargreaves) whom he married on 24th September 1878. In 1880 they moved to Sedgwick Park, near Horsham.

In 1885 Robert and Emma travelled to Japan. It was during this trip that they bought the large Satsuma earthenware vase and cover now in the Horsham Museum’s collection. I particularly like the quality of the Buddhistic dragon chasing the flaming pearl which encircles the body of the vase. The Henderson’s large 16th/17th century Chinese bronze censer in the form of a temple dog is exquisite and a jewel in Horsham District’s cultural crown.

These and the other Henderson artefacts were donated to the museum’s collection by Emma’s daughter Violet. Violet was born in 1902 and was to marry Lord Leitrim. It was as Lady Leitrim that Violet made this extraordinary gift in 1931. Patronage and generosity are always qualities to be celebrated and honoured over the passage of time.

In an age where modern travel is accessible and relatively inexpensive it is easy to forget how international Britain’s outlook was in the 19th and earlier centuries. Our nation has always prospered when we return to international, mercantile trade. Perhaps it is time for us to rediscover from our past the confidence to once again become an international trading nation. To take up a central role in a global economy which was articulated here in Britain back in 1851.

A detail of the Buddhistic dragon decorating the large Japanese Satsuma earthenware vase and cover brought back from Japan by the Hendersons

Our shared history and culture gifts us with a common narrative and identity. This is vital to the building of healthy societies and communities. It is equally vital to have passionate and knowledgeable custodians of the stories and treasures of our District and the world. Jeremy Knight at the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery continues to celebrate, preserve and proclaim our heritage. He should be applauded for his important work in this field. The Horsham District Council is to be commended for its continued support too.

For more information on the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery’s wonderful permanent collection and excellent program of exhibitions, including the current ‘Women of Horsham’, go to www.horshammuseum.org.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 11th June 2014 in the West Sussex Gazette.

All in the Detail: Susie Jenkins

'Aurora' (detail of reflected water on a boat hull) colour photograph © Susie Jenkins

Susie Jenkins is an Arundel-based photographer who views the world through a lens from a different perspective. Seeking out tiny details to capture on film, she transforms these into abstracted works of art. Nicholas Toovey tells us more

'Beachscape III' colour photograph © Susie Jenkins
'Starry Night' colour photograph © Susie Jenkins
'Red Sunset' colour photograph © Susie Jenkins
'Beach' colour photograph © Susie Jenkins
'Blue Horizon' colour photograph © Susie Jenkins

At the age of eight, Susie was given a second-hand box Brownie and after a trip to Bruges returned with numerous pictures of water, a subject that has never failed to inspire her. Her desire to go to art school was stymied by her parents, who felt a different path would be more beneficial. This spurred Susie on to attend evening classes in photography, increasing her desire to create beautiful photographs. She was given a Nikon F2 from a friend after a holiday in the South of France when he saw how often she was using her point and click and how much she enjoyed it. Whilst working at Sussex University she fondly remembers the marvellous dean who allowed her to use the quieter summer weeks to take photographs and develop them using the university’s dark rooms. She describes these as important moments in her journey to becoming a photographer.

‘Aurora’ is a typical example of Susie’s work. It asks the viewer to decide what they see emerging from the photograph. Different interpretations are always suggested, for some it is a car driving down a hill-side at night, for others the beam from a lighthouse beneath the northern lights. Most people however, are surprised when they are informed that it is in reality a detail of the bottom of a boat magnified to abstraction. Tiny close-ups become vast open landscapes, planets, lunascapes or nonrepresentational vistas. Boats have been the mainstay of Susie’s artistic output for the last 12 years, but are often interspersed with reflections in water, clouds, flowers and watery landscapes.

With an increasing number of people owning digital SLR cameras, many professional photographers hear ‘I could do that’ from onlookers, whilst many amateur photographers can capture a beautiful image, this is often down to luck rather than judgment, and increasingly with the help of computer image enhancement. As a photographer, Susie started in a pre-digital age with wet film. This background dictates the way she works, adopting a ‘get it right first time’ attitude. The only difference she has found since purchasing a digital camera three years ago is that her studio is now her kitchen table. Susie avoids the lures of computer editing, as she believes that you cannot take a photograph without composing it in the mind first, looking through the lens you have to see the picture, otherwise it becomes a snapshot. Susie says patience is also important; on a trip to Guatemala she recalls standing in front of a beautiful doorway for half an hour waiting for clouds to disperse and the light to catch the door in the right way before finally taking the photograph.

Susie is co-founder of the Art for Life project with her daughter-in-law Beatriz Huezo. The project intends to help small communities in El Salvador after the country was stricken by two devastating earthquakes in 2001. El Salvador has been haunted by natural disasters, war and by the injustice of social inequality. Art for Life’s first success was to build twenty-five new homes in one of the worst hit areas, without the project a small village would have received no aid. Art for Life has continued with securing the land for and the building of a new school. The mission is very much ongoing with attention currently investigating other needs in the country.

Susie Jenkins

Susie has always lived in Sussex. Despite ‘escaping’ the county on a number of occasions, she always returns to the place which she describes as the ‘hidden secret of the world’. Does Sussex inspire her? Of course, the streams, reflections and clouds all influence her work. In fact, Susie admits she started taking photographs because of her stimulating surroundings, working at the Arun Yacht Club, Littlehampton, inspired her to see boats in a totally different light. Having lived in Arundel for the last twenty-six years, Susie has always been involved with the Arundel Gallery Trail, both as an exhibitor and organiser. This year is no exception as Susie will be showing her works at 1 Tower House, London Road, with fellow artist Jan Irvine. The trail runs from the 20th to 29th August and showcases the work of over 150 artists at numerous venues across Arundel. All Susie’s work is produced in a maximum limited edition of 25, although many images are limited to just 10 copies.

With her inimitable vision Susie creates engaging and beautiful worlds from reflections and minutiae, reinforcing photography as a fine art. For more information visit www.susiejenkins.co.uk

Nicholas’ article was originally published in Sussex Life magazine in August 2011.