New exhibition marks museum anniversary

Eric Gill sculpture SUS-150210-092615001
Eric Gill sculpture SUS-150210-092615001

It is 30 years since the original founding of Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, and the museum is celebrating this anniversary with a new exhibition ‘Another 30 years - A Growing Collection’

Following its re-development in 2013 the Museum has received national acclaim including being a finalist in Art Fund Museum of the Tear and winning a RIBA architecture prize.

However its story did not begin there; the museum was originally founded by two sisters, Joanna and Hilary Bourne who, in their 70s, dedicated their energies to staring a museum collection for Ditchling.

‘Another 30 years’ reflects the museum’s ambition to grow and develop the collection’s national and international importance, displaying works gifted and lent to the museum, recent purchases to the permanent collection, and bequests promised in years to come.

The works on display celebrate the generous support the museum has had and continues to receive, in order to thrive and enable the museum to share this fascinating history.

Key pieces shown include a Charles Knight watercolour of the forge at Pyecombe, relief carved works by Kenneth Eager, Edgar Holloway and George Maxwell, a drawing by David Jones (believed to be of Eric Gill’s daughter, Petra), and an exquisite and rare piece of Edward Johnston calligraphy.

The exhibition also highlights the current opportunity to secure for the museum’s permanent collection a beautiful Eric Gill relief carved plaque, with important local resonance. This unusual piece was made by Gill as a prototype for building plaques, some of which can still be seen today in the streets of Brighton.

The sculpture includes Gill’s initials and birth dates, making it a very personal piece. The sculpture would be a fantastic addition to the museum, as the collection holds other personal work such as the artist’s early childhood drawings. A fundraising campaign will run alongside the exhibition, to ensure the plaque is saved for Ditchling’s museum collection.

Also on display are three drawings by the artist John Vernon Lord, gifted to the museum in memory of Ditchling resident Chris Rutherford.The works chosen are from Lord’s original drawings of Aesop’s Fables, which feature animals set in recognisable Ditchling landscapes, and are the first of his works to join the collection.

Nathaniel Hepburn, Director, is thrilled to welcome Lord’s work into the museum:

He said: “It is a great pleasure to include John Vernon Lord in our new exhibition ‘Another 30 Years’ which really celebrates the excellence and diversity of artists associated with the village for the last hundred years. The exhibition is also an opportunity to thank the generous donors of works of art, and individuals who have and continue to support funding for purchases, following in the spirit of the Bourne sisters - the first, very generous, donors to the museum.”

‘Another 30 Years: A Growing collection’ runs from 7 September 2015 – 13 March 2016

Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Lodge Hill Lane, Ditchling, East Sussex BN6 8SP.

Open 11am – 5pm, Tuesday – Saturday including Bank Holidays, and Sunday 12:00pm – 5:00pm.

Admission £6.50 (conc £5.50). For more information see or call 01273 844744

Report and picture contributed by Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft.