Collection News


Giovanni Piranesi and Henry James at Lamb House, Rye

Posted on Apr 6th 2018

We were delighted to welcome Dr Jerzy Kierkuc-Bielinsky to see the nine works by Piranesi (1720 - 1778) in the Collection.

Jerzy is the National Trust's Curator for London and the South East and is researching the pictures, furniture and decor of Lamb House for its restoration by the NT as the home of various writers, including Henry James and EF Benson.

Our Piranesi engravings were originally owned by James, passed on to EF Benson and later bought by artists Robert McKechnie and Margaret Barnard who bequeathed them to the Gallery.

We looked at some photos showing the Piranesi prints hung in Lamb House hall during Henry James' time.

They will all be on show in Studio Gallery 6 next month.


Eric Ravilious (1903 - 1942), Boy Bird's Nesting

Posted on Jan 29th 2018

The Trustees are very pleased to have purchased an Eric Ravilious print for the Collection.

It is a wood engraving on boxwood showing a climbing boy reaching from the branch of a tree towards a nest. The composition is linear and decorative and the scene also has a romantic 'English' feel to it, showing a pastime redolent of childhood and earlier countryside days. Flying birds have scattered in the sky.

The original edition was of only 15 prints in 1927. This print is from the later Merivale edition of 1987.

Eric Ravilious Boy Birdnesting 1942

Robert Greenhalf SWLA, Wildlife Artist - a new Donation

Posted on Dec 17th 2017

The Trustees are delighted to accept the offer by Isabelle Sambrook, of a woodcut by wildlife artist Robert Greenhalf, SWLA, for the Collection. The title is 'Evening Lapwings'.

Robert Greenhalf's woodcuts and paintings are the result of long hours of patient observation in the wilds of the Kent and Sussex marshes and in Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.

He has held many exhibitions around the country and has published several books, including the magical 'Towards the Sea' 1999, a diary and visual record of his walks and observations of wildlife in land, water and seascape.

Robert Greenhalf Evening Lapwings

Bernard Dunstan RA, PPRWA, NEAC (1920 - 2017)

Posted on Nov 8th 2017

We are very sad to hear of the death of Bernard Dunstan. He and his wife Diana Armfield RA exhibited at the Gallery during the 1970s and we have some of their letters in our Archive.

Both artists have work in our Collection and two of our Trustees, Michael Miller and Dr Fanny Baldwin, visited them in their home as recently as last year. They were honoured to have been invited by Diana to the recent Celebration party at the Royal Academy for Bernard's life.

The photo shows Bernard painting in his studio last year 2016 and is a still from a film about him.

Bernard Dunstan RA PPRWA NEAC In 2016

Joan de Bethel (1923 - 2017) - Theatre Designer

Posted on Oct 24th 2017

We were sorry to hear of the recent death of Joan de Bethel, a member of Rye Society of Artists. She had trained as a theatre designer, and worked in New Zealand, London and Rye in partnership with her husband David.

We have two of Joan's very theatrical paintings in the Permanent Collection.

This one is 'End of the Day' and is acrylic and collage on board. Not difficult to imagine a stage, proscenium arch and eerie stage lighting...

The work was presented by Sally Westoby in 2013.


Walter Vivian Cole MBE, 'The Swan'

Posted on Sep 17th 2017

Wally Cole (1913 - 1999} was a master ceramics craftsman, artist and the founder of Rye Pottery.

This beautiful flowing sculpture was presented to the Collection by Tarquin and Biddy Cole. Tarquin succeeded his father as Director of Rye Pottery. It is currently displayed in the glass link between our two buildings.

The Swan was commissioned in 1968 by Frederick McManus OBE and made for the artist's 80th birthday retrospective in 1993. This one is made of marble flour and resin and is part of a very small edition cast in 2010.

Wally Cole Swan 1968 And 2010 Lores

'Artists' Choice' - Louis Turpin and Davida Smith curate

Posted on Jul 23rd 2017

Louis and Davida, are currently choosing items from the Permanent Collection ready for our inaugural 'Artists' Choice' exhibition in Sept/Oct.

As creative and successful professional artists, also with a life-long connection to Rye, each has merited having work selected for the RAG Permanent Collection. They also have work in Collections all over the country.

In addition, their paintings, drawings and original prints can be found for sale in our Contemporary Art galleries if you are lucky!

Louis And Davida 2017

Loan of a Design Scroll from Ceramics Maritime Painter - Richard Horner

Posted on Jul 5th 2017

Richard Horner, Rye painter of maritime scenes on pottery for Cinque Ports Pottery and other Rye potteries over many years, has let us have on loan his remarkable scroll of original designs.

The scroll is many metres long and full on both sides with his professional designs of all kinds of boats and crew. One side of the scroll is covered with drawings of acutely observed vessels (as here) and the other is a pageant of painted boats (see below for an example.)

These photos are temporary snaps as we plan to have the scroll professionally photographed as the designs are part of Rye's visual history. This will be undertaken by award-winning photographer, Peter Greenhalf ARPS, AOP.

IMG 0176 Low Res

The painted boats of Richard Horner

Posted on Jul 5th 2017

Here is an example of one small area of Richard Horner's design scroll (see above) on its painted side, showing some Rye boats in colour.

IMG 0183 Low Res

'GO GREEN' and David Crew's painting 'Forest Watch'

Posted on Jun 27th 2017

There is a green environment in Gallery 6 where we are showing a group of paintings all featuring Green as their most important colour.

Essential viewing includes 'Forest Watch' by David Crew (b. 1948).

This is a mysterious, brooding and monolithic work. It shows a Bavarian landscape with a woman rowing a boat on Lake Riessersee. We see tall fir trees, grey rocky mountains and a nearby totem pole overlooking the translucent lake with its rower and fish.

The painting was the generous donation of Ann Robertson in memory of her father Dr Colin Robertson and Elaine Robertson.


"Water, Water Everywhere... "

Posted on May 10th 2017

Water Water - certainly in Gallery 6.

Work from the Collection features how artists have handled the depiction of water in different ways.

The haunting image is 'The Ferryman' by artist, film-maker and jazz musician Eric Money (1946 - 2003).
Strangely still water, hazy texture and dream-like figures in the boat provide the viewer with an evocative and unsettling experience leaving more questions than answers...


Reginald Sharpley (1879-1947) - Donation of a Sketchbook from 1919

Posted on Mar 13th 2017

We are very grateful indeed to Margaret Bird for her generous donation of a superb Sketchbook by Reginald Sharpley covering January - July 1919.
There are many scenes of Rye - landscapes, buildings, boats and a few including figures. There are also scenes of other familiar parts of Sussex and beyond. The sketches are in graphite with just a few cloud studies where he has included blue crayon.

Sharpley exhibited watercolours at the RA and published two books in AC Black's series on English Landscapes

The scene shown here is titled 'The Circus, Rye 25th June' and shows crowds enjoying the fair on the Salts, just as we do today.

R Sharpley Rye Circus 1919 S