War Artist captures the beauty of ancient Sussex churches

18 Mar 2019

After 15 years of painting wars brought about by religious conflict, award winning war artist Gordon Rushmer has turned his brush and palette to capture the exquisite beauty of ancient churches of West Sussex and Horsham District in particular.

From detailed observation used to record the minutiae of conflict, from recording the right type of kit worn by soldiers, Gordon’s gaze has turned to record the exact poise of the angel at Boxgrove, or wall plaster at Hardham. The stunning new exhibition Accents on the landscape: Ancient Churches of West Sussex at Horsham Museum & Art Gallery is not an exercise in replication, but of seeing the churches and their landscape through the eyes of an award winning watercolour artist whose work is held in collections around the world.

The exhibition, which opens on 30 March, is a remarkable record; three years in the planning and painting. In visiting the churches, imbibing their charm and creating the essence of what makes them special, Gordon Rushmer has created a remarkable work of art that is a wonderful record of the ancient churches of West Sussex. His watercolours will encourage you to explore familiar places anew, whilst also revealing the known unknowns; those places you knew about, but never visited.  To act as a guide there is a stunning book published to coincide with this exhibition, using the voice of the artist to reveal what drew him to these special places.

The exhibition Accents on the landscape: Ancient Churches of West Sussex includes unusual views of the majestic Chichester Cathedral to the nude paintings in Hardham, lying just south of Pulborough, to portraits of windows that reflect the sun bursting through, highlighting the mellow stone and patina of age on oak pews. Such images are complemented by the age-worn stone of headstones and graves as they populate the churchyard and add poignancy to the watercolours.

The new temporary exhibition is part of Horsham District Council’s Year of Culture programme at Horsham Museum & Art Gallery. Gordon Rushmer’s stunning exhibition is part of a tradition, spanning 250 years, of recording the historic churches, first commenced by William Burrell of West Grinstead who employed the Swiss artist Grimm. His watercolours are now in the British Library and seen as one of the outstanding pictorial records of 18th century Britain. The quality of Gordon Rushmer’s paintings stand in comparison. Some of Grimm’s watercolours became fine copperplate images in leather bound books.

Today, thanks to modern technology, the public, if not able to buy one of the original works of art, can buy a beautifully produced book, illustrating all of the paintings in this amazing exhibition. The book is now available to purchase from Horsham Museum & Art Gallery priced at £12.50.

Accents on the landscape: Ancient Churches of West Sussex by Gordon Rushmer opens on 30 March and runs till 1 June 2019. From there it will also show at Weald and Downland Living Museum in July 2019 followed by Parham House in September 2019.

For more information see  www.horshammuseum.org
Horsham Museum & Art Gallery is open Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm, Free Admission.

Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, 9 Causeway, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1HE
Telephone: 01403 254959 (calls may be recorded)