Friday, 5 January 2018

Feeding the Fowls

We braved a truly horrible day for a bus jaunt to the Watts Gallery to see the Helen Allingham exhibition. When we've visited in spring, the woods have been full of celandines. anemones and primroses; yesterday it was torrential rain and muddy puddles. Straight into the cafe to warm up with tea and Welsh rarebit, then a whizz around the exhibition with two boys who, predictably, turned out to be vocal critics of the Hollyhocks and Cottages School of English Art. 'If I had money, I wouldn't buy that,' said one. Well, neither would I, though I'd be happy if one came to me in a will from a longlost relative. And on a grim, grey day, I enjoyed the riotous herbaceous borders, whilst thinking that those picturesque cottages were an insanitary health hazard for the rural poor. Expect they were delighted to be moved into council semis a generation later.

The Little Path, Kitchen Garden, Sharston Manor, Cheshire

I think I was more engrossed by Helen Allingham's illustrations in Victorian weekly magazines, especially those for the Cornhill Magazine serial of Far From the Madding Crowd. (Thomas Hardy said she was his all-time favourite illustrator.)

I also enjoyed her little portrait of Tennyson, especially after revisiting the whopping great plaster maquette by Watts in the sculpture gallery. Not a must-see exhibition but a pleasant start to the New Year. And it got me out of the house because two weeks of Christmas is too much!


Mac n' Janet said...

I love Helen Alingham's paintings, have several books about her. Wish I could see some of her work on exhibit.

mary said...

Maybe they'll tour an exhibition some day, Janet - so frustrating when you see something you'd enjoy on the other side of the world! or even the other end of the country.

Sarah said...

We spent about four hours at Watts Gallery on a particularly horrid day between Christmas and New Year. I enjoyed the Helen Allingham exhibition but wouldn't want her on my walls and like you preferred her illustrations. Wasn't the typeface tiny? Imagine reading that by gaslight. A lot of time was taken up visiting the house and studio but my favourite part (apart from our delicious leisurely tea) was the Edward de Morgan exhibition and the following day we went to Standen to remind myself how wonderful his work is when seen in context.

Mary said...

Our visit was rather rushed, Sarah; those boys do not enjoy art galleries!