Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chichester travelogue: Pallant House Gallery

Photo credit: Susie MacMurray from

I'd been looking forward to my visit to the prestigious Gulbenkian award-winning (2007) Pallant House, for a long while. Arriving at the elegant exterior, mid-way down a charming characterful street, I wasn't disappointed at my first view.

Armed with my floor plan, I went upstairs, starting in the historic collections. One of the most impressive sights, in the first room, was the gilded bronze bust of Charles I, created by Hubert le Sueur, in 1637. As I progressed through the rooms, I was intrigued to notice chic leather chairs with strategically placed pine cones (not for artistic reasons but to prevent the temptation for visitors to rest on them).

Moving out of the historic collections, I came upon the striking original (walnut?) staircase, contrastingly complemented by Nina Saunders amazing velvet fabric creations. I had to smile when I noticed her limited edition (of 50) velvet dustpan: Mr William Morris' Pan for the Application of Utilitarian Cleaning available to order, for the sum of £360. I also loved Susie MacMurray's highly inventive After 'Shell' with mussel shells and deep red velvet dramatically combining to form unusual but exquisite tulips.

Speaking with the empassioned guides, I learnt that much of the collection had been donated by Walter Hussey, former Dean of Chichester Cathedral, in 1981, on condition that it be made available for public view. Charles Kearley's remarkable bequest (1988) contributes the mainstay of prominent European masterpieces in the collection.

The highlights for me, were varied and many, including: Antony Gormley's simple elegant, stunning mild steel rod sculpture Trajectory Field III (2002, on loan); Richard Hamilton's Swingeing London (sic), a 1967 piece depicting the hand-cuffed Mick Jagger and Robert Fraser as they were driven away after a drugs raid; Eileen Agar's simply beautiful Italian Girl (1927); Julian Trevelyan's Absentee Pig (1943); George Bracque's stunning, vivid blue The Bird (1949); Salvador Dali's hot-hued Hawaii Suite II (1973).

I loved the temporary Lee Miller and Friends exhibit (runs until 29th March '09) packed with wonderfully evocative and iconic photography (taken mostly in the 1940s and '50s), including everyday moments shared with Pablo Picasso and his family and Jean Cocteau.


CarolineLD said...

A lovely travelogue: I've been wondering where to go for a few days away, and think I may have my destination!

amethyst said...

I think you'd find plenty to enjoy...lovely friendly polite people, too!