In less than two years the Friends of Horsham Museum and Art Gallery have created an art collection that the town and district can be proud of, which is being celebrated in a month long exhibition. Having elected to prioritise the quality of the acquired work over the cache of a celebrity name, the Friends have acquired a broad selection of high quality and beautiful work by a range of artists, both well-known and local. This remarkable collection tells the story of a quintessentially British art form, the watercolour.
The impact of the creation of the watercolour collection has been considerable, without it we would not have had the recent Royal Academy based exhibition WatercolouRA250, nor the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours show. Both attracted new visitors to the Causeway based museum and art gallery.
The will include the unveiling of a specially commissioned watercolour by award winning artist Gordon Rushmer, called Horsham Museum & Art Gallery 125, to celebrate the popular museum’s 125th birthday this year. This modern work will be in contrast to watercolours from the very birth of the medium including a painting by George Robinson of Warnham Pond bridge painted in 1768 purchased with funds from The Art Fund. Alongside that will be paintings by the architectural artist par excellence Samuel Prout, whose views of Europe transformed the visual appreciation of Medieval buildings and the historical scene paintings by Charles Cattermole whose work influenced many a children’s history book. Equally, by going for quality, the museum has bought works by obscure artists. None more so than Vanda Szczepanowska whose intricate detailing of fabric and domestic interior is matched by the delicate beauty of the face yet her work is hardly known.
The collection has also benefited from donations by The Horsham Society, Toovey’s, the Washington based auction house and long term supporter of the Museum and private individual benefactors. The exhibition Collecting the Quintessential showcases what can be achieved with limited means but with driving ambition to create a collection the district can take pride in and enable the districts museum to develop interesting exhibitions and events.