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Collection News


Photos from the Burra Archive

Posted on Sep 11th 2021

During the exhibition 'Burra and Friends' these photos represent many more held in the Permanent Collection.

Some here show Burra (1905-1976), but also his closest friend William Chappell (1907-1994). Some of the photos are by Barbara Ker Seymer (1905-1993). He met both at Chelsea Art School and the friends remained in close contact for life.

Billy danced for Ballet Rambert and at the Vic Wells, later becoming a stage designer and director of over 40 productions. He wrote 'Edward Burra: A Painter remembered by his Friend' 1982 and edited Burra's letters in 'Well Dearie' 1985.
Barbara was a photographer, society girl, and later worked for a film studio.

Burra Archive Photos S

Visit from artist Julian Le Bas

Posted on Sep 11th 2021

We were delighted to welcome Julian on a visit to the Gallery.

We hold his dramatic, expressionist charcoal drawing of Rye Bay in the Collection. The image awakens our sense of being emotionally present in the tumultuous land and sea scape. It was purchased at the time of his exhibition 'Source to Sea' at the Gallery in 1990.

Julian is a Sussex-based artist inspired by the South Downs and its coast. He has a BA(Hons) in Fine Art from Brighton and post-graduate qualification from Cyprus.

Julian Le Bas With Rye Bay 1990

Our Edward Burra Archive researched for the audio trail 'Against our Vanishing'

Posted on Jun 29th 2021

Dr Diarmuid Hester, Fellow in English at Cambridge, visited the Gallery to research our Edward Burra Archive.

He was commissioned by Climate Art, a public art platform, to create an audio trail of some of the queer artists and writers, past and present, who have made Rye their home. They include artist Edward Burra and writers Henry James, E F Benson and Radclyffe Hall.

Entitled 'Against our Vanishing' the audio trail is free to download from
See also Diarmuid's Instagram @Dehester which can also be googled.

The image shows Edward Burra (1905 - 1976), a photo from the Archive.

Edward Burra

Mary Stormont's 'Lime Kiln' painting to illustrate a book on Geology

Posted on Feb 13th 2021

The authors of a new book on the geology of Essex approached us for permission to use one of our Collection paintings as an illustration. We were delighted to agree.

The writers are Ian and Ros Mercer, Chair and Secretary of the Essex Rock and Mineral Society. Ian is the author of several books on geology and this new one will have a section on the use of lime and chalk in the county.

The Gallery's founder, Mary Stormont (nee Sapsworth) grew up in Essex and started her career as an artist there before moving to Rye.
Her oil painting 'The Lime Kiln, Maldon, Essex', is topographical but much more in it's selective palette and atmospheric tones. It is a useful record of early twentieth century lime production.

Mary Stormont The Lime Kiln Maldon Essex

John Owen - RIP

Posted on Dec 11th 2020

We are sad to mark the passing at 92 of John Owen, a much loved and respected artist, farmer and sailor and member of Rye Society of Artists.

We hold this painting 'Bank Holiday' in the Collection. It shows a lively beach scene from an offshore viewpoint such as he would have frequently enjoyed from his sailing excursions.

One of John's tutors was William Warden RBA, whose work we also hold and whose brushwork and enjoyment of oil paint John demonstrates.


'Miniatures and Masterstrokes' - Collection pieces included

Posted on Dec 2nd 2020

Our Christmas extravaganza includes some of our favourite small paintings from the Permanent Collection mixed in with those for sale by our contemporary artists.

The two here shown at the top are by our founder, artist Mary Stormont (1871-1962) and the one on the left in the bottom row is by PJ Crook MBE (b.1945).

Top left is 'Rosamund', an oil on panel, top right is 'Lady in Medieval Dress', a watercolour.
Crook's tiny painting is 'Artist and Model' of 1995 and features her frequent inclusion of the frame as part of the image.

Miniatures And Masterstrokes Stormont And Crook

Edward Hunter Bequest - Two sculptures by Kitty French (1924-1989)

Posted on Aug 28th 2020

These two painted clay heads by Kitty French have their eyes shut and seem to be dreaming.

They are the first three-dimensional works by French in the Collection and complement her portrait heads in 2D mixed media and some monoprints of heads that we already hold.

She lived in Rye, was an inspirational educationalist and always interested in people. We are enormously grateful to the late Edward Hunter for this bequest.

Kitty French Painted Clay Heads

Edward Hunter Bequest - Four pictures by Kitty French (1924-1989)

Posted on Aug 28th 2020

We have just accessioned this bequest of four mixed media works by Kitty French and they are ready to go up to be shelved in the stores awaiting exhibition.

They are, left to right, 'Guardsman', 'Huzzar', 'Kaleidoscopic Tree' and 'Bald Lady'. They are created in her eclectic assemblage of colourful materials - textiles, card, beads, sequins, braid, paint, pen, pencil, you name it.

This brings our holdings of work by Kitty French to 18 and we are really delighted to hold the most extensive collection of her work around - especially important as she was a Rye artist of deserved renown.

Kitty French 4 Mixed Media