Posts Tagged ‘Graham Sutherland’

I went to Woking recently. It’s not far by car and I’d read that there was a Henry Moore exhibition showing there. Now, Woking isn’t a place one immediately associates with culture – it has a mediocre shopping mall, expensive parking and a horribly stressful one-way system currently exacerbated  by complicated roadworks. There is, however, a decent theatre and cinema complex but you have to wade through a phalanx of overly large folk eating their way through super-sized meals in a ‘food court’ full of fast food outlets. It always strikes me as odd that these bulky types, noshing their way through zillions of calories, tend to favour sports clothing: tracksuits, leggings and t-shirts that must surely contain a Lycra percentage, so tight are they stretched across their ample stomachs. Why is that? I’m fairly certain that the sportswear isn’t fulfilling its intended function.

Sorry, I’m straying off topic.

I was headed for the Lightbox. This is Woking’s arts venue and it occurred to me that I’d been there once before, years ago, when I took Son (aged about twelve) to an exhibition about Surrey during WW2. Why I haven’t been back since is a mystery…the place is a light and lively proactive three story area stuffed full of ever changing exhibitions and workshops for school parties with a very acceptable looking cafe area in the foyer where any suggestion of chips with Lycra is thankfully absent.


I was amazed that entry to the Henry Moore cost me just £3 – which also allows me entry into any exhibitions at the Lightbox FOR A WHOLE YEAR. While I couldn’t believe this my gob was even more smacked when the young lady behind the till mentioned apologetically that if I lost the entry card she had just given me, I’d have to pay £5 to replace it. This must be the best value exhibition centre IN THE WORLD.

The Henry Moore show ‘Sculpting from Nature’ concentrated on inspiration he drew from his surroundings– studies of shells, feathers and bones. The collection included drawings, maquettes, studio materials and working models plus three or four of his monumental sculptures, all loaned by the Henry Moore Foundation.


From a very young age, Henry Moore was an avid collector of natural things and at the Lightbox show there is a central cabinet filled with some of his precious finds. It’s easy to spot how these organic shapes – from driftwood and shells to shards of flint – were transformed into his iconic work that is so distinguishable today.


An informative archive black and white film, playing on a loop looks into the work of one of Britain’s most famous contemporary sculptors and there are shots of Henry walking around his garden at Perry Green – a place I visited several years ago with WF1 and which I think now requires a return.

But my tour of Woking’s Lightbox was far from over, for on the third floor was another fascinating exhibition. The Ingram Collection of Modern British Art was commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the artist John Minton (a new name to me) who was inspired by the British Neo-Romanticism movement of which John Piper and Graham Sutherland were major figureheads. Alongside Minton’s works were those of his contemporaries, John Craxton, Julian Trevelyan and Alan Reynolds, none of which I was familiar. I love discovering new things.

img_2172 Two Fishermen, 1949 by John Minton (1917-1957)
img_2167 Thames Houseboats, The Weir 1963, by Julian Trevelyan (1910-1988)
img_2162 I am With Child, 2008, by John Craxton (1922-2009)

According to Art Fund’s director, Stephen Deuchar, Chris Ingram is one of the most active and thoughtful collectors of modern British art today. Well, I’ll agree with that – I had a bonus hour wandering around a virtually empty gallery, enjoying the work of many painters I’d never heard of. Thanks to Chris Ingram, I say.

And thank you, Lightbox. As I left, I snapped this statue outside the main entrance. It shows author HG Wells, who moved to Woking in 1895 and wrote his most famous novel ‘War of the Worlds’ while living in a house on Maybury Road.


On the journey home I cogitated over other famous Woking residents and it came to me that the Modfather, Paul Weller, hails from here. If you’re in the dark as to who I’m talking about – remember The Jam from the early eighties? Remember one of their hit singles,  Town Called Malice? Paul Weller wrote that song about Woking, his childhood home.

Just how diverse can one town be?


Henry Moore Sculpting from Nature runs until 7 May

Ingram Collection runs until 26 March

Lightbox, Woking.




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Living close to places of interest often means we pass them by, assuming we’ll get round to visiting some time or another, which is what has happened with me and Chichester Cathedral. I had never been inside, until this week when, after meeting friends for lunch in the town, I remedied this oversight. On first impression, the interior is very much like any other cathedral – except that there is a rather stunning altar piece tapestry designed by John Piper, paintings by Patrick Procktor and Graham Sutherland and a beautiful stained glass window by Marc Chagall.

Depiction of Psalm 150, Marc Chagall, Chichester Cathedral

Depiction of Psalm 150, Marc Chagall, Chichester Cathedral

This immediately brought to mind an outing I took last year with my mother – on her suggestion that she and I visit a tiny church in the Kent village of Tudeley. She had been before, and thought I’d be interested.

I was. I was astonished.

All Saints' Tudeley

All Saints’ Tudeley

Views across the Weald of Kent

Views across the Weald of Kent

All Saints’ Tudeley sits nestled in beautiful countryside, overlooking the Weald. From the outside, although pretty, it looks similar to many other small churches in this area, but inside…well, the inside is unbelievable.

The walls are whitewashed which complements the stonework and instantly this evokes an airy atmosphere of meditative calm.

Light through the windows onto white walls and honeyed stonework

Light through the windows onto white walls and honeyed stonework

The windows, all twelve of them, were designed by Marc Chagall. It is the only church in the world to have all its windows decorated by the Russian artist – and it’s only here in the UK and in Chichester where his stained glass can be appreciated.

Chagall was originally commissioned to design the east window at Tudeley in 1963 for Sir Henry and Lady d’Avigdor-Goldsmid in memory of their daughter.

Window commissioned as a memorial to a drowned daughter

Window commissioned as a memorial to a drowned daughter

He had been searching for a place of worship in which to display his stained glass since being disappointed at his artificially lit windows, depicting the Twelve Tribes of Israel, at the synagogue of the Hassadah Medical Centre in Jerusalem. When he arrived at Tudeley for the inauguration in 1967, he was so taken by its simplicity and natural light that he agreed to decorate all the windows.

An abstraction of butterflies

An abstraction of butterflies

The final windows to be installed, those of the chancel, were fitted in 1985 – the year of Chagall’s death.

Find out more about the church at Tudeley here.

Churches seem to house the most unexpected works of art which, unless you visit on the off chance and discover them for yourself or you hear by word of mouth, these treasures are likely to remain hidden forever.

John Piper's tapestry at the altar, Chichester Cathedral

John Piper’s tapestry at the altar, Chichester Cathedral

Noli me Tangere, by Graham Sutherland, tucked away in Chichester Cathedral

Noli me Tangere, by Graham Sutherland, tucked away in Chichester Cathedral

Read more about Chichester Cathedral here.

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