The Friends of The Wilson Newsletter- Winter 2021

Page 1

Newsletter 131

Issue Winter 2021

Table of Contents 3 4 7 8 10 12 13 Letter from the Chair

Events and Exhibitions PocketSights Walking Tours of Cheltenham Lasting Legacies

Where to Visit: The Hepworth Wakefield Prospects for the Arts in Cheltenham Favourite Works of Art: Melting Snow






14 15 18 21 21 22 23

The Northwick Collection Reviews Art in YOUR Quarter From the Archives New Members Crossword Contacts




Dear Friends, H

appy New Year! I think it will be best to take a long view of 2021, looking forward hopefully to the period towards summer. By then, it might be possible to have live talks and coach trips once more and to be able to enjoy the newly reopened Wilson itself, with its redesigned welcome area, Arts Café and shop on the ground floor and the new Charles Irving Community Gallery on the mezzanine. On the floor above, the Maker Space (adjacent to the Arts and Crafts gallery) will be ready to host artists and craftsmen who will be demonstrating how the traditions and legacy of the original Arts and Crafts movement continue to thrive and to evolve. One thing is certain: when The Wilson does open again it will need our support more than ever. We all need to keep in mind the questions, ‘What makes an art gallery and museum sustainable?’ and ‘How can we help?’ Supporting its activities and sponsoring its exhibitions, encouraging its outreach into the community, using its facilities – the new Café and shop in particular: all of these are things we can do. Many of the volunteers

at The Wilson are Friends and when it opens again after such a prolonged period of closure and enforced inactivity, the need for volunteers will be greater than ever. Volunteering takes many forms: stewarding in the galleries is the most visible, but conservation work, cataloguing and collaborating on projects run by the different teams, including visitor experience, collections, communications, offer many opportunities for making a real contribution. When The Wilson opens again, I’d like there to be a regular Friends’ presence at the entrance where we can greet visitors and answer their questions, telling them what they can see, and where. Rob Rimell is our Volunteer Liaison officer on the Trustees’ Committee. If you would like to find out (a lot) more about volunteering, do contact him. Rob’s contact details, like those of the Friends’ other officers, can be found at the end of this and all Newsletters. In this Newsletter you’ll find details of our full programme of virtual talks between now and Easter, together with reviews of three held in the autumn. If you have not yet tried a Zoom lecture, please resolve to do so soon; all

the speakers listed were originally invited to give live talks; all have willingly agreed to transfer to speak online instead. You’ll also find (p.18) three interviews with young artists who contributed to The Wilson’s autumn openair exhibition, Art in YOUR Quarter. Among those interviewed is Kate Sargent, who has been chosen as one of the exhibitors in the National Portrait Gallery’s acclaimed photographic Hold Still exhibition. Do read Kate’s interview and see her photograph, ‘Birthday Lockdown’, on the NPG’s website. I hope very much that when The Wilson reopens, Kate’s ‘Lockdown Doorstep Portraits’ series might be one of the first shows in the new Community Gallery. Recently, in the monthly email Friends’ Updates, I have been recommending a closer look at the street art enlivening some unexpected walls and corners of the town. Cheltenham’s annual Paint Festival continues to produce remarkable and, in my opinion, impressive work that makes art – the best of it challenging, memorable and cheering – available all around us, all the time, even while The Wilson awaits its reopening. With all good wishes,


Events D

espite our various social restrictions, many of us have been accessing the offerings from the innovative arts organisations that have taken to other means to bring interest and pleasure to audiences old and new. With this innovation as an example, the Friends of the Wilson Events team have put their thinking caps on to produce a new events programme to be of interest to members, providing pleasure while

providing essential funds in the form of donations to support The Wilson in its time of need. The fastchanging landscape has certainly been a learning process, and we agreed that timely monthly updates would add value to the information usually supplied via the Newsletter. Many thanks to all those people who dealt so patiently with the initial flurry of necessary cancellations and a special thanks to those who felt able to turn the purchase price of a ticket into a donation to The Friends.

Many thanks again also to Alison and Martha who sorted all this out for us. The decision taken initially, that it was not possible to plan in-person visits or talks until at least after Easter, has proven to be appropriate. We are in the process of planning a new programme of trips, and some visits previously scheduled for 2020 have been, or are in the process of being, rescheduled for this year. This includes the much-anticipated private visit to Highnam and the joint visit to Hereford, although others are no

If you would like to attend one or more of the following events, please complete the online or paper booking form and include your email address to receive a Zoom invitation to your chosen event. ARCHITECTURE AND PLANNING OF LATEGEORGIAN SPA TOWNS 18/01/2021 10.30am Venue: Online Cost per person: £5

Cheltenham was one of the most successful and fastest-growing leisure resorts of the late Georgian era. This talk will discuss its development, and that of other spa towns, as they responded to changing patterns of leisure and architectural fashion, drawing attention to their most important buildings and to their distinctive urban landscapes, still


among the most attractive in Britain. Our speaker, Dr Geoffrey Tyack, FSA, FRHistS, is an Emeritus Fellow of Kellogg College, and a member of the Faculty of History at Oxford University. He is the author of several books and articles on architectural history, among them Oxford: An Architectural Guide (1998), and is the editor of the Georgian Group Journal. He has just completed a book on the history of the urban landscape in Britain, to be published by the Oxford University Press in 2021.

ARTHUR CAMERON: A “REFORMED COCKNEY IN ARCADIA”? 22/02/2021 10.30am Venue: Online Cost per person: £5

Arthur Cameron was one of the liveliest craftsmen working for C R Ashbee’s Guild of Handicraft in London’s East End and was briefly expelled for bad language by his fellow Guildsmen. Although he started with the Guild as an office boy, he became a talented craft metalworker – the museum has a fine charger designed and made by him – and

longer appropriate for 2021 as they were tied to particular exhibitions. We are also in the process of adding new trips, including private visit to Sezincote and to Worcester. We will keep you in touch with what is going ahead with the now regular monthly updates as things become clearer. The decision was also made for us to offer a new programme of digital talks. We now have a share in a Zoom licence and Adrian agreed to be our guinea pig in October, followed by Kirsty in November. The success of these events means

that we are now offering a programme of Zoom talks into 2021, with plans to review the format later in the year. Some speakers have been rescheduled from last year; others are new to our programme. You will recognise some extremely well-regarded regular speakers and friends of “The Friends”, but also some new speakers that include the architectural historian, writer and editor of the Georgian Society Journal, Dr Geoffrey Tyack who will speak in January. So, please join us for our programme of events. We hope you enjoy but in

addition, we are all very aware that museums and galleries are struggling in these times and any profit from our events helps The Friends to support The Wilson. As always, feedback is very helpful. As we could not hold a Christmas social event this year, I hope many of you were able to join Adrian for the December talk with your own mince pie in hand! We hope to “see” you at talks and, dare I say it, trips later in the year Best wishes for a Healthy and Happy 2021,

thrived following the Guild’s move to Chipping Campden. His story however doesn’t end there. Disaster struck following the collapse of the Guild, providing a reality check for the ambitions of the Arts and Crafts Movement.


dancing in the Cotswolds. Martin Graebe talks about the Gimsons, Cobb, and others who rekindled the tradition in the area. Martin is a researcher and writer about traditional song and song collectors. His book about the antiquarian and folk song collector Sabine BaringGould, published in 2017, won the Katharine Briggs Prize of the Folklore Society, and the W G Hoskins Prize of the Devon History Society. He has given talks on Baring-Gould and other aspects of folk, to a wide range of audiences around the world.

Our speaker for the online talk is Mary Greensted, a trustee of the Guild of Handicraft Trust. Mary has been working on the archives at Court Barn in Chipping Campden as part of the museum’s HLF-funded Refresh project taking place early in 2020.

08/03/2021 10.30am Venue: Online Cost per person: £5

The folk song and dance revival in England in the early twentieth century involved many, some better known than others. Emily Gimson, the wife of the Arts and Crafts designer and architect, Ernest, was key in the folk revival in the Cotswolds and England more widely. One of the children she taught to dance, Alfred Cobb, went on to a lifetime of Morris

The Events Team


A VIRTUAL TOUR OF THE CITY OF BATH, GIVEN BY MAEVE HAMILTON HERCOD 26/04/2021 10.30am Venue: Online Cost per person: £5


After returning to Britain from living overseas for 30 years, Maeve Hamilton Hercod trained as a Blue Badge Tourist Guide in South East England and became a guide in the South West after moving to Bath 14 years ago. Since then, she has been involved in running a guiding agency and training guides for the profession, and until recently tour managed widely in Britain, Europe and further afield. She has a flat in Bath and a cottage in Cornwall, ‘a delightful combination’. Of the virtual tour, Maeve says: ‘My talk on Bath is based on the sort of visit that many people would make to the city, starting at the Holburne Museum, one of the country’s best small museums with a collection ranging from the miniatures of Sir William Holburne to the portraits of local Bathonians by Thomas Gainsborough. From there we cross the city from the elegant terraces of the Upper Town to the narrow streets of the medieval centre, taking

a look en route at both the Thermae Bath Spa and the picturesque Pulteney Bridge, inspired by the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. We end at the American Museum on the outskirts of the city’. TALK BY NICK NELSON 17/05/2021 10.30am

Members will, no doubt, be very pleased to hear that Nick Nelson has agreed to give another of his fascinating and knowledgeable talks on 17th May 2021. Nick usually seeks to tie the theme of his talk into a current exhibition, visit or The Wilson’s collections. As no one can as yet say what fantastic exhibitions will be around in May, the title of the talk has not yet been finalised (at this point in writing the newsletter whilst still in the second lockdown). Further information will be available later in the New Year so please look out for further information about this talk early in 2021. It has also been agreed that he will be flexible as to delivery either in person or on Zoom depending on the best advice nearer the time. It would obviously be a good beginning to in-person talks again, but any decisions will be taken with the best and most up to date advice.

Pittville Pump Room- Image by Alex Boulton

Copper repousse charger made by Arthur Cameron in 1892. The Cheltenham Trust / Cheltenham Borough Council

Martin Graebe

Holburne Museum- Image by Matt Brown (Flickr Creative Commons)

Exhibitions Please check websites.

The Wilson Online Exhibitions: Sisterhood Colour-ways Humankind The Virtual Memory Lane Cafe

The Holburne Museum, Bath January 22 – May 5 Canaletto: Painting Venice

Victoria Art Gallery, Bath Closed until March 2021

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery Until 28 February Do you believe in magic? Until 5 April Being Human: An exhibition of modern sculpture

Swindon Museum & Art Gallery Until 31 January Virtual Exhibition: Modern British Art: A Story

Pocket Sights O

ne of our Friends, Andrea Creedon, has helped create two local walking tours that you can follow on your GPSenabled mobile device: Holst’s Cheltenham (in collaboration with Holst Birthplace Trustee, Alan Parker) and Pittville History Works – Architectural Walking Tour. The walks can be enjoyed by downloading the free PocketSights app from your favourite App Store. You can follow the prescribed route, ‘skip’ stops or choose your own route in ‘free roam mode’. You can even tackle it ‘virtually’ from the comfort of your own armchair. Holst’s Cheltenham starts at the Beehive Pub in Montpellier and 2 miles, 15 stops and about an hour and a half later ends at the Holst Birthplace Museum in Clarence Road or, for an ‘encore’ the magnificent Grade 1 listed All Saints Church in Pittville where Gustav and his father played the organ. The tour takes in houses where the Holst family lived, Holst’s statue in Imperial Gardens, concert halls where Holst’s

works were performed and, in some cases, premiered (the Rotunda, Cheltenham Town Hall, Lloyds Bank (site of the Assembly Rooms), Marks and Spencer (site of the Cheltenham Corn Exchange, which later became the Victoria Rooms) and Montpellier Wine Bar where his father spent his last night drinking, in 1901. Pittville History Works is a Friends of Pittville project which is making available the details of the people and places that have made up Pittville’s history since the “big idea” of the Pittville Estate emerged in the 1820s. Andrea has put together an Architectural walking tour of 34 stops and 1.8 miles taking about 2 hours. Neoclassical, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival and Italianate styles feature in the designs of many of the villas and terraces of the estate. There are also fine examples of decorative ironwork and even a stable with listed building status! Andrea says that PocketSights is a great free resource for building tours with very helpful ‘customer support’. Would anyone be interested in developing a Wilson family Cheltenham walk? Martin Renshaw


Lasting Legacies Rosemary Parker was a Friend of The Wilson for many years and attended and enjoyed all the lectures and visits arranged by the Friends. She lived in Cheltenham from 1970 until her death, aged 84 years in 2019, so she had seen the many changes made to the museum over nearly fifty years. Rosemary was brought up in a village near Cannock Chase and attended Lichfield Girls’ Grammar school. On leaving school she read Zoology at London University. After

Leaving a legacy to The Friends of The Wilson can make a dramatic difference to the Friends’ ability to support the Art Gallery and Museum. During 2020 we were very grateful to receive three significant legacies and by way of marking our appreciation for these gifts we publish here brief pen portraits of each of the donors. graduation she taught in Germany, Singapore and Argentina before returning to the UK and settling in Cheltenham as a member of Cheltenham Ladies’ College Biology Department. She became second Head of Department in 1978 and remained in that post until her retirement in 1991. She was always meticulously prepared and her many pupils can testify to the thoroughness of her teaching, the clarity of her presentation and the care with which she marked. One reason for her

success as a teacher was the fact that she herself was always enthusiastic and willing to learn. She was also the possessor of a beautiful italic hand that was, on occasion, even borrowed by the Art Department. In retirement Rosemary travelled extensively to places as far flung as China, Bhutan, Ethiopia, India, Costa Rica, the Galapagos, as well as in Europe. When at home she spent her time visiting Faithfull House as well as indulging her passion for The Wilson.

A small sample of items given by, or purchased with the assistance of, the Friends of The Wilson, Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum. Clockwise from top left- Broadwood piano by C R Ashbee (1900), stained glass window for the 1989 extension, Extensive View from Rodborough Fort, anon (c.1760), portrait of Captain Henry Skillicorne Images- The Cheltenham Trust / Cheltenham Borough Council


Catriona Smith and her husband Richard were lifelong supporters of the arts and their contribution to Cheltenham life centred particularly on music. They will be associated in many people’s minds with the Cheltenham Music Festival, and Catriona was also a staunch volunteer at The Holst Birthplace Museum. In 2015 the British Association of Friends of Museums (BAfM) held its annual conference in Cheltenham, and Catriona was secretary of the programme planning committee, chaired by Gina Wilson. The headline theme for the

Conference was ‘Does the Past have a Future? Engaging the Next Generation’; creating a three-day programme on that theme with international speakers and delegates from all over Britain, took nearly two years’ preparation. Throughout the months of distinctly fraught negotiations with BAfM headquarters, Catriona’s reassuring presence and her knowledge of who was who across the arts in Cheltenham did much to keep the planning meetings focused. She was adept too at ensuring the contributions of both The Wilson and The Holst

Birthplace Trust were properly reflected in the programme as it evolved. Away from Cheltenham, Catriona and Richard were keen walkers. In May 2007 they completed all 135 miles of the Glyndwr Way, between Knighton and Machynlleth, and reported that ‘the waymarking was good and we never got seriously lost’. On a cheerfully sardonic note, Catriona added this advice for future travellers, ‘Be warned that accommodation can be a bit basic. And we never want to see another sheep!’

Eunice Phillips, who died in 2019, aged 97, was a very private person and much less well known in Cheltenham than her husband David. He had been not only a popular teacher of Russian but also a leading member of the town’s Film and Italian Societies. In 1959 he became one of the key figures of the campaign to save what had been the Cheltenham Opera House. When it reopened as The Everyman, he chaired the Everyman Theatre Association (ETA). Eunice was happy to remain in his shadow. Her

own life, however, had been far from uneventful. After school, she joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service (the Wrens) when war broke out and spent two years (194345) billeted at Woburn Abbey, working as a Naval attaché in Bletchley Park’s Hut 7, where she became an expert on Japanese intelligence. Under her maiden name, Howard, she is honoured on the Bletchley Park Codebreakers’ Wall. After the end of the war in the Pacific, Eunice transferred to Cheltenham and worked for the rest of her career

inside GCHQ. When her husband died in 1990 she unveiled a plaque in his memory at The Everyman and deposited his ETA papers in the Gloucestershire Record Office. In retirement, she became a skilled silversmith and had her own personal hallmark. She also became a volunteer at The Art Gallery and Museum, devoting much time and skill behind the scenes to creating the protective covers that conserve items in the Museum’s important – and sadly no longer displayed – costume collection. Ro Kaye and Adrian Barlow


Where to visit: the Hepworth Wakefield N

orth Yorkshire is a Mecca for sculpture lovers, boasting both the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth Wakefield within 7 miles of each other. Barbara Hepworth is most associated with Wakefield, where she was born in 1903, and St Ives where she moved, with abstract painter Ben Nicholson and their children, in 1939. She lived and worked in Trewyn Studios from 1949 until her death – from a house fire – in 1975. This is now the Barbara Hepworth Museum and – with her works throughout the house and garden – is also well worth a visit. However, as many of you will know, she has a connection with Cheltenham: Theme and Variations, Cheltenham and Gloucester Society


Head Office (1969-1972). A display at The Hepworth Wakefield describes the background. Theme and Variations was Hepworth’s last commission. The architects of Cheltenham and Gloucester’s new head office – Healing & Overbury - approached her in 1969 to design an abstract sculpture to complement the building with its curved, neo-classical façade. Hepworth never visited the site due to her increasing frailty but worked from photographs and drawings. The bronze sculpture is 11 feet 3 inches in height by 25 feet in width. Hepworth’s proposal was for a triptych composed of overlapping semi-circular elements that she likened to leaves, which are characterised by a strong sense of movement. Once given

Maquette, Theme and Variations 1970 (Hepworth Wakefield website)

Theme and Variations in construction at Morris Singer foundry (barbarahepworth.

the go-ahead, she and her assistants produced a full-sized prototype in hardboard and wood, which no longer survives. Hepworth instructed the Morris Singer foundry to vary the patination of the elements from blue-green to a whiter colour on the tip to enhance the threedimensional effect. The Hepworth Wakefield holds the original hardboard maquette (scale model) she made for Theme and Variations at the architect’s request on a scale of 1 inch to 1 foot. She explained that this was a “poetic idea which will stimulate me to the carrying out of the big work with all the freshness that I can maintain”. She felt strongly that it was essential to work on a fullsize prototype and that a

maquette, which she only made when essential, was just an indication of the final work. Hepworth collaborated with many foundries but her relationship with Morris Singer was the most significant, dating back to 1959. Morris Singer also worked with many of Hepworth’s contemporaries including Henry Moore and Lynn Chadwick. Her most important monumental commissions, Winged Figure, mounted on the John Lewis store in Oxford Street, and Single Form, displayed in a water feature at the UN Headquarters in New York, were cast at Morris Singer. Although Cheltenham and Gloucester moved out of the building, Cheltenham House, in 1989 to new head offices in Barnwood, the sculpture has remained. In 2019 the owners wanted to replace

Theme and Variations in situ, 1972 (

Winged Figure 1963 (Wikipedia)

it with a replica, but this was prevented by the Borough Council issuing a Business Protection Notice, and then by Historic England giving it a Grade-II listed status. The sculpture is now most easily identified as being above Wagamama in Clarence Street. The Hepworth Wakefield started life in 1934 as the Wakefield Art Gallery but was transformed by David Chipperfield Architects to provide a legacy for Barbara Hepburn. The new building – which still houses works by other local artists – opened in 2011. There is a stunning range of her work from early wood carvings to iconic stringed sculptures and polished bronzes from the 1970s. They are displayed alongside

a selection of paintings, prints and ceramics made by artists Hepburn knew and worked with in Cornwall. These include paintings by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham and ceramics by Bernard and Janet Leach. Other artists featured in the gallery include Graham Sutherland, Paul Nash, Jacob Epstein, Walter Sickert, Anthony Caro, LS Lowry, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Bridget Riley and David Hockney. The garden is a lovely space for contemplation and enjoyment of tasty vegetarian and vegan meals from a van. The museum is in a delightful waterfront location on the River Calder. At the time of visit there was a temporary Bill Brandt/Henry Moore exhibition exploring the parallel and intersecting paths of the photographer and sculptor starting with images of civilians sheltering from the Blitz in the London Underground.

Single Form at the United Nations Secretariat 1964 (


Prospects for the Arts in Cheltenham I


am writing this in the middle of lockdown number two. I might have been more optimistic had I looked at the situation with the voluntary arts in October. Galleries, theatres, and concert halls were beginning to open, admittedly in a socially distanced manner, but still people were able to get together and enjoy elements of the rich cultural society in Cheltenham. The situation is looking bleak again now. When the first lockdown occurred in March, we were all disappointed that so much had to be cancelled. We were prepared to put up with a temporary halt to our activities for the common good. Nine months later and the difficulties inherent in any sort of social situation seem to be insurmountable, certainly in the short term. We shall have to come to terms with a “new normal� even once any vaccine programme gets going. As Chair of the Cheltenham Arts Council, I represent a varied collection of small, predominantly amateur organisations centred on the voluntary arts. I have been most impressed

with the way these organisations have coped with the government restrictions. Once it became clear that getting together in person would be difficult for a time, these societies have been vigorously rethinking their approach. Like most of the population, societies have turned to the internet for resources. Galleries and Art Clubs have held virtual exhibitions. Others are finding that using on-line resources has increased their membership with buoyant attendance at online meetings. Performing groups have also taken to using technology. Choirs and orchestras have been experimenting with making recordings and have kept members involved by holding rehearsals via Zoom. Drama groups have been looking towards film and radio whilst their venues, such as theatres and churches are shut. Another choir has looked at maintaining their social ties by writing, editing, and publishing a choir cookbook. The larger professional organisations such as the Cheltenham Trust, the Cheltenham Festivals and the Everyman Theatre

have certainly been hit hard but we know that the government will step in and provide support. It is other smaller organisations that are of more concern such as the Playhouse Theatre. This is a vital resource for amateur dramatics in Cheltenham and as such deserves support from the community. All this continued activity cements the hope that eventually life will return culturally much as it was before. Perhaps some of our societies will continue to implement the changes they have made during the pandemic. We may see different opportunities to enjoy the voluntary arts. It may be from the safety of our own homes, an attractive proposition during inclement winter weather, or we may see more imaginative ways of meeting socially. Whatever happens, let us hope that societies will have been able to keep the majority of their members over this period and that the Arts in Cheltenham will flourish even more gloriously in the future. Sue Silcock Chair, The Cheltenham Arts Council

Melting Snow


robably painted around 1920 and given to The Wilson by its artist Alfred Henry Robinson Thornton (1863-1939) in 1923, Melting Snow offers a snapshot of a park in winter, its bare trees and snowy grass literally frozen in time. Although we cannot be sure of the location of this park that clearly inspired Thornton, the scenery reminds me of Clifton in Bristol, the tall terraced houses reminiscent of the ones that run alongside the downs on the walk from the village to the Suspension Bridge. Indeed, Thornton did move to the South West during this time - he lived in Bath between 1908 and 1920, and then moved to Painswick where he lived until his death in 1939. I chose to feature Melting Snow not just for its wintery relevance to a January newsletter, but because of the several other interesting works that The Wilson holds

This article can also be found on the ‘Art works’ page of our website: along with similar articles and links to view and search The Wilson’s collections online. by the same artist. Due to its beautiful colours, I was tempted to pick In Provence, produced in 1919 and purchased by The Wilson in 1968, but thought it might induce some COVID-19 related jealousy! Another contender was Hill Farm, probably produced some time in the 1930s, but its depiction of a beautiful summer’s day meant it also wasn’t quite suitable. The son of a civil servant, Thornton was born in Delhi in 1963 and was educated in England where he graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge and served in the Foreign Office. Soon deciding he wanted to pursue art, he studied at the Slade School and the Westminster School of Art in the 1880s and

Images- The Cheltenham Trust / Cheltenham Borough Council

1890s. In 1928, he became the President of the influential Cheltenham Group, a society founded in 1920 to bring together local professional artists. Thornton was most interested in impressionist and post-impressionist work and was inspired by the radicalism of French artists including Monet and Gauguin, the latter of whom he met in 1890. This influence can be best seen in Melting Snow and In Provence, both characterised by their loose paint application, broad brushwork and rejection of stricter standards in terms of form, colour and tone. Perhaps Thornton reconsidered this rejection of more lifelike, detailed and accurate representations towards the end of his life. Hill Farm offers the best example, especially when comparing its depiction of clouds against those in Melting Snow. If you would like to see more work by Thornton, The Wilson also holds Steel’s Garage, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and Old Houses, Gloucester, both available to view on the Art UK website. Alex Boulton


The Northwick Collection I

n the midnineteenth century Cheltenham housed one of the great European art collections of the period, assembled and curated by John Rushout the 2nd Lord Northwick. The family seat at Blockley, Northwick Park, also housed a large number of paintings but it was Thirlestaine House, from its purchase in 1838 to his Lordship’s death in 1859, that was the main centre of his art collecting. Regrettably, the whole collection at Thirlestaine House had to be put up for sale in 1859 and 1860 because he left no will and, being single, there were no direct heirs.

Sir John Rushout (later 2nd Lord Northwick) by Angelika Kauffmann (1794)


The 1859 sale, held over twenty days by the important Auctioneers Phillips at Thirlestaine House, was a national and international event

Thirlestaine House in the 1840’s – with the first extension

and is still regarded as one of the great sales of the nineteenth century. Inevitably, most of the two thousand or so paintings fled Cheltenham, and these shores, and became ‘lost’. The family did buy back some works that were housed in the family home at Northwick Park and were finally sold in 1964/5 at Christie’s, one of the major sales of the mid-20th century. I became aware of the extent and importance of the collection whilst working at Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum in the late 1970’s - and I have continued to explore that collection ever since. I am happy to say that the Cheltenham collection does house a few exNorthwick paintings. As my research papers began to exceed the space available at home, I had to decide some twelve years ago what to do with this ‘unfashionable’ subject. I finally approached

the then Director of the National Gallery, Nicholas Penny, whom I had known as a fellow young Curator. They visited me and asked if I would consider offering my research papers to the Research Archive collection at the National Gallery - which is now where they rest, available for others to access (NGA28). By a strange quirk of fate, the Archivist who catalogued my papers at the National Gallery is now Archivist at Cheltenham College where one of the two main College buildings is Thirlestaine House! PS: My research did not end with that move and I continue researching the collection - not an easy task as attributions and titles have changed over the years. David Addison was Director of Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum in the 1970s. Read more at

Reviews PORTRAITS FROM THE WILSON’S COLLECTION 14/10/2020 It was a delight to join the online Zoom talk by Adrian Barlow on his personal selection of portraits from The Wilson’s collection. Adrian skilfully talked us through each portrait looking particularly at the details, from face to fingers, which I found made me look much more intently, and brought the works to life.

Baron Charles Conrad Adolphus du Bois de Ferrières by John Hanson Walker (The Cheltenham Trust / Cheltenham Borough Council)

Beginning with the portrait of the Baron de Ferrieres, whose collection established the Art Gallery, he gave us clues as to what to look for in portraits. Is the sitter looking straight at us, to the distance, to the side? How are the hands shown, does clothing give us clues to the person?

All the portraits were from the collection apart from one. Adrian cleverly re-united the portrait of Edward Wilson, now in Cambridge, with that of his parents, Dr and Mrs Wilson, all of which were painted by A U Soorda relatively unknown painter whose work he felt should be better known. He finished by showing a wonderful selection of portraits linked to the Arts and Crafts movement, from the intriguing Cotswold Craftsmen by William Rothenstein (why do they pose so silently?) to the evocative scene by Gerald Gardiner of his wife reading by lamplight in their cottage. Having looked after the painting collection at The Wilson as Collections Manager for eight years I was delighted Adrian included some lesser known paintings, particularly two portraits of Mayors, of which there are a number, some of which deserve further research, and the more unusual street portrait of Alan Whittern greengrocer painted on the back door of his shop. This was the first Friends’ online talk, and it was well-worth signing up to. Helen Brown

ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT FIRST WORLD WAR MEMORIALS IN GLOUCESTERSHIRE 16/11/2020 On 16 November nearly 40 Friends were treated to a Zoom talk by Kirsty Hartsiotis, the Wilson’s Arts and Crafts expert, about Gloucestershire war memorials. It was Kirsty who produced the wonderful exhibition about Ernest Gimson at the Wilson early last year. The audience benefited from Kirsty being able to pursue her research during her furlough and enjoyed a wide ranging and beautifully illustrated talk about memorials erected after the First World War. Gloucestershire has a wealth of arts and crafts war memorials (70 plus and still counting) largely because so many architects, artists and craftsmen resided here. The simple Arts and Craft style, often using local stone, was well suited to the many village memorials funded by public subscription. The plain style of the Whitehall Cenotaph by Edwin Lutyens also set the tone. The memorials fall




roughly into two categories: monuments and practical memorials. In the latter category falls village halls such as the one at Avening by Thomas Falconer and the lych gates in Charlton Kings and Cranham by John Coates Carter. Perhaps the most unusual is a watertank used as a much-needed public water supply at Oakridge Lynch by Alfred Powell. This was erected unusually early in 1916, in memory of Mabel Dearmer and her son who both died on service overseas, she as a ward orderly. In other locations monuments that provided a place for memory and grieving were preferred. These took the form of crosses in churchyards or village centres, or both as in Minchinhampton. Kirsty described in detail the beautiful crosses in Prestbury and at All Saints, Pittville, both by John Coates Carter, and in Fairford, by Ernest Gimson and Norman Jewson. Other memorials took the form of rolls of honour or stainedglass windows as in Cheltenham College Chapel or even of whole chapels as at St. Steven’s, Tivoli, and St Philip and St. James, Leckhampton. At Painswick, the

dilemma of whether the memorial should be religious or secular was solved by placing it astride the churchyard wall. One of the most memorable memorials is the St George and the Dragon at Stanway, commissioned by Lady Charteris of Stanway House who lost two sons. It is by Sir Philip Stott, the bronze figures by Alexander Fisher and the lettering by Eric Gill. Kirsty’s talk opened our eyes to how much there is to see in Gloucestershire. We need a gazetteer to guide us around them when we can get out and about once more. Judie Hodsdon A NEW LOOK AT THE NATIVITY 09/12/2020 What a stimulating and timely tonic, in these gloomy grey days of Covid restrictions to be led by Adrian Barlow through a colourful, informative and fascinating lecture on the Nativity of Christ from the Annunciation to the Flight into Egypt. We were transported smoothly and comfortably from the 15th Century to the 20th Century and back as painting, frescoes, woodcarvings and stained glass appeared before us and were examined

and explained by Adrian elegantly and succinctly. There were fascinating juxtapositions. The beauty of the Annunciation on the pulpit in Scarborough by Ford Madox Brown contrasted with the astonishing painting by Otto Dix of the Annunciation painted in 1950 with an almost aggressive angel pointing accusingly at a very young, stroppy Virgin Mary sitting sullenly on a chair. The two paintings that moved me most, and for me complemented each other perfectly, were both of The Visitation, the one by Rogier van der Weyden painted in 1445 and the other by Gwen Raverat, granddaughter of Charles Darwin, painted in 1918. In the first painting the hand of Mary touches the pregnant abdomen of Elizabeth while Elizabeth’s hand caresses Mary’s own swelling abdomen. In the second painting the older, heavily pregnant Elizabeth sits, and Mary stands bending over her, their hands holding the head of the other, drawing them together in a kiss. There was such tenderness in both paintings. I had seen neither before, and I must thank Adrian for bringing them together for us all in the lecture.

Reviews They were beautiful and life affirming, as was the whole lecture. Rod Woodward-Court YOUNG REMBRANDT AT THE ASHMOLEAN 10/09/2020-01/11/2020 The Friends’ planned outing to Oxford to see the acclaimed Young Rembrandt exhibition was an early casualty of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, when the Ashmolean was able to reopen last summer, the original run was extended until the beginning of November, with strict limits on the people allowed in at any one time. This proved no bad thing. Many of the works on display were etchings, some perhaps more accurately described as etched sketches: experimental miniature portraits and selfportraits much smaller than postcard-size. To see these at all you needed to get up close – impossible, therefore, for more than one person at a time to study such images, especially under conditions of social distancing. Getting round the exhibition was a slow business. But patience was rewarded because much of the interest, and indeed the aim, of the

show was to illustrate how Rembrandt (16061669) slowly transformed himself from a young artist of apparently limited talent into the artist of genius revered today.

Self Portrait by Rembrandt (The Ashmolean, Oxford)

Etching was an essential skill for young artists in the 17th or any later century: the more copies of a single picture you could sell the better. This show demonstrated how Rembrandt learned from other, more experienced, etchers to develop accuracy, variety, subtlety and sensitivity of line. The self-portrait of 1629 illustrated here (the date, reversed, is just visible in the top left-hand corner) shows how many different thicknesses and varieties of stroke and crosshatching Rembrandt used to create the illusion of an image captured almost with the speed of a smartphone camera. Yet

etching requires immense patience and precision, one false stroke sufficient to ruin the plate. The exhibition takes the story of Rembrandt’s career and development up to the mid 1630s, by which times the focus had largely shifted towards his portraits and largerscale oil paintings, some of them executed in association with his pupil, Gerrit Dou (The Wilson has a Dou self-portrait). Even in some of his earliest etchings, Rembrandt had been fascinated by the challenge of rendering effects of light and shade; in the later oil paintings he took experiments of light and shade to an extreme. One of the most striking images, The Flight into Egypt (1634) presents an almost entirely black canvas, with only two sources of light – a distant crescent moon half obscured by cloud, and a lantern held by the Virgin who sits slumped side-saddle on a donkey, being led by Joseph whose presence is inferred rather than revealed by a hand on the animal’s bridle. As with the early miniature etchings, this was an image that needed close and careful attention – as, indeed, could be said of the whole exhibition. Adrian Barlow


Art in YOUR Quarter F

unded by Cheltenham Borough Council and designed by The Wilson, October’s Art in YOUR Quarter trail sought to comfort, create and inspire while capturing the history and mood of 2020 with a series of pop-up exhibitions. Cheltenham’s artistic community exhibited 40 pieces of work, consisting of a range of mediums and genres, created during the first national lockdown at four locations across the town: The Garden Bar in Imperial Gardens, the phone boxes on the Promenade, Pittville Pump Room and The Wilson’s Guild shop window. Alex Boulton spoke to three artists who had their work exhibited around town. Joseph Casey @joe_casey_art Can you tell me about your art featured on the Promenade and the inspiration behind it?

Tell me a bit about you in one or two sentences. I’m an artist graduate from Leeds Art University (LAU) and my work uses sculpture and installation, but I also have a background in illustration. What is your favourite place in Cheltenham and why?


My favourite place in Cheltenham is Pittville as I like the Pump Room and the sense of community.

The phone box project for me was a reaction to our isolation and our newfound reliance on technology to communicate. I also wanted to add some levity to the situation, knowing we were living in harder times. Being able to brighten someone’s day was important.

Why did you decide to feature your art in this exhibition with the Wilson? I really love the team and the artists I work with. More widely, how has the pandemic impacted you and your work? At first, my individual practice suffered but I found collaborating as part of the Wilson Arts Collective (WAC) on several projects has helped me maintain my practice and a sense of community.

Rizpah Brinkman Rizpah Amadasun (artist name) @rizzle_prints

Tell me a bit about you in one or two sentences. A creative designer, my art is predominately Afrocentric, focusing in the positive representation of Black narratives across the platform and spaces I work in, which is set design, fine art, interior design and spoken word. What is your favourite place in Cheltenham and why? My favourite place in Cheltenham is all the places I spent time in with my grandfather, which would be peculiar spots such as the comfy sofas at the local bank, or a random bookstore, or Spencer’s cafe. People make a place.

Can you tell me about your art featured at The Garden Bar and the inspiration behind it?

Why did you decide to feature your art in this exhibition with The Wilson?

The art featured in the exhibition is ‘Instrumental in All We Love’, a portrait inspired by a musician called Derek Daley. It was created after observing how much black male musicians put their entire being into the composing of music while failing to get recognition for it. The shapes flowing out between the artist and his instrument illustrate energy, the fragments of which make up the pattern behind him. At one with the instrument, it is hard to define what genre is being composed, which is important as Black male musicians have been instrumental in developing a lot of music we all consume, sometimes without recognition.

The Cheltenham Jazz Festival is where I feel most at home in my hometown, it was really unfortunate not to have it take place this year, featuring it in the exhibition was a great way to introduce myself as an emerging artist to the town and pay homage to the festival through the theme of my work. More widely, how has the pandemic impacted you and your work? Lockdown feels like the 90s all over again, being told to go play outside, except there is internet when you have to go home. This year has provided me with time and clarity that I have everything within me to create the life I want. It has given me time to be more courageous. Creatively it has exposed my art and spoken word to a growing audience and inspired me to continue down the path of using my talents to entertain and engage.


Kate Sargent at Luna Palm Photography @lunapalmphoto Can you tell me about your photographs featured at Pittville Pump Room and the inspiration behind them?

Tell me a bit about you in one or two sentences. I’m Kate, a mum to two beautiful children Cali & Chili, who are the reason for me being a photographer. Originally from South Yorkshire now settled in Cheltenham. I love music, spending time with my children and friends and, the most obvious, taking lots of photographs! What is your favourite place in Cheltenham and why?


My favourite place in Cheltenham is Lilith’s Cafe, a vegan cafe/restaurant on Winchcombe Street in town. Amazing coffee, delicious food and a beautiful ambience.

I was very upset that my work had come to an abrupt stop - weddings cancelled, family shoots postponed. I wanted to do something to keep me creating and to capture memories in these uncertain times, so I started my Lockdown Doorstep Portrait Series, a quick 20-minute shoot in and outside of the homes of my clients. That turned into something bigger than I could’ve ever imagined, especially winning the Hold Still Exhibition speared by the Duchess of Cambridge and the National Portrait Gallery in London. Why did you decide to feature your photography in this exhibition with the Wilson? A friend mentioned I should enter my recent lockdown portraits as they would fit really well with the theme The Wilson were looking for. I entered hoping I might get chosen and very luckily, I was!

More widely, how has the pandemic impacted you and your work? It has impacted my photography work a lot - my weddings have all been postponed for next year and my family shoots have had to be put on hold. It has been quite a tough year adapting to this new way of living, but I know it has been for everyone. I miss family and friends but thankful for technology still making it able for us to communicate and keep in touch. Doing the Lockdown Portraits was a real challenge and so different to how I would normally shoot. It made me adapt and try new things to get amazing portraits for my clients.

From the Archives T

wenty years ago, the Spring 2001 Newsletter (No.72) announced proudly on its front page: Winner of the British Association of Friends of Museums Liveliest Newsletter Award 2000

Clearly the Editor was in no mood to rest on his laurels. On the Art Gallery and Museum News page, and under the caption Glamorous Gear – Shattering Sounds appeared a photograph of the performance artist Andrew Logan looking like a cross between Dawn French and a pantomime Dame, followed by this report: ‘A crowded hall, with Friends well represented, expressed their enjoyment as Andrew, world renowned creator and master of ceremonies of ‘The Alternative Miss World’, paraded his exotic, erotic, outrageously dressed and bejewelled troupe. Winding their way through the galleries to the sound of wild music and shattering glass, they were a fitting launch to a sparkling and somewhat zany exhibition. Congratulations to Curator Sophia Wilson for providing such enjoyment.’

Two decades later it is wonderful to report that Sophia Wilson, now the Museum’s longest-serving curator, is still an active member of The Wilson’s Collections Team. We look forward very much to welcoming her, and all the staff of The Wilson, back from furlough at the end of March, if not earlier. If the refurbished ground floor and the new Community Gallery upstairs are to open with such enjoyment as filled the old galleries twenty years ago, who better to turn to for ideas than to Sophia herself?

New Members We welcome the following members who have recently joined the Friends:

Diana Coia

Ro Kaye

Marina Moore


Crossword Across 4 Shakespeare’s working but one of his lines has gone missing (6) 6 My first manoeuvre leads to hesitation by the Cheltenham Trust perhaps (8) 9. 23 A 4 across was a journalist, protector and a Scottish medic perhaps (6, 6) 10 Sober painter takes in teashop and returns to be found in the Arts and Crafts Gallery (8) 11 The man leaves; just disloyal (11) 15 Fabulous creature joins family group initially and gets tipsy (7) 17 Seesaw, for example, is usable when arranged with clubs (7) 18 Roughly treat the saboteur (11) 22 Don’t start to fuss about setback leading to put down (8) 23 See 9 24 Design technique from tech company involving brains and half of us (8) 25 After 9 and before 4 across, has an upset stomach with no end of colic (6)

Down 1 Designer taken in by scam or risky investment (6) 2 Unlikely setter likes to talk a little foolishness with a book missing (10) 3 (8) 4 They violently pull money from fighters (8) 5 Painter or architect covered in material (8) 7 January earnings include this period (4) 8 A 4 across hurt badly (4)

12 …careless but new broken leg etc. is initially fixed up locally (10) 13 Movement results from endless merriment and travel with nothing to lose (8) 14 Birds without hearts were a focus for Bruegel (8) 16 Engrave trendy label with tail-less animal (8) 19 Take garland from shrub for hot teacher (6) 20 A song in return for a Please send solutions to song (4) uk or Martin Renshaw, Flat 3 Queensholme, Pittville 21 Lager knocked back Circus Road, Cheltenham GL52 2QE. Answers will can lead to a fall (4) appear on the website from Wednesday 13 January and all correct entries (or best incomplete entry) will be acknowledged.


Contacts President PJ Crook Chair Adrian Barlow (01242 515192) chair@ Secretary John Beard (01242 514059) secretary@ Treasurer Liz Giles (01242 224773) treasurer@

Membership Secretary Martin Renshaw (07748 901194) membership@

Volunteer Liaison Robert Rimell (07858 007852)

Cheltenham Trust Liaison Jaki Davis (07747 795709) jaki. meekingsdavis@hotmail. com

Newsletter Mailing Sue Reeves (01242 675497)

Talks Organiser Sue Pearce (01242 522467) sue.pearce@

Events Bookings Alison Pascoe (01242 519413) Martha Alleguen (01242 526601) events@

Collections David Addison (01242 238905) davidaddison10@

Newsletter Editors Alex Boulton Hannah Tandy editor@

Cover photo: Melting Snow by Alfred Henry Robinson Thornton Photo credit: The Cheltenham Trust and Cheltenham Borough Council Deadline for the next issue: 25 March 2021 Please send everything to

The Wilson, Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum Clarence Street, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 3JT 01242 237431 Friends of The Wilson, Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum Registered charity number 289514


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