Visit to Mottisfont House near Romsey

Eleven Art group members joined this engaging event, on 11 April 2023.

Our original plan was to visit the special exhibition of Norman Thelwell’s artwork in the morning, then to sketch in the Mottisfont garden after lunch. With a forecast of rain in the afternoon, we changed the plan.

On arrival, we took up positions in various parts of the garden and began sketching with pens, pencils and charcoal. We then met for lunch and progressed into the house to view the exhibition.

The Norman Thelwell exhibition was on two levels in Mottisfont House. The top floor housed Thelwell’s early work and the lower floor many of his original published cartoon works.
The early work exhibited included a self-portrait done at school when aged 11. On the top of this pencil drawing his teacher had marked in red pen a tick and ‘V/G!’ – his talent had been recognised at an early age.

During his time in the army during World War II, Thelwell developed his painting skills with wonderful watercolour studies of the people he was with and the places he visited. For all of us who were aware only of Thelwell’s cartoon skills, this part of his work was a revelation and a recognition of a very great talent.

The second part of the exhibition housed many of his original published cartoon works and reflected his long association with the magazine Punch. In addition to the political cartoons there were many jolly scenes involving country life, with very fat ponies and their Pony Club riders’ exploits!

The promised afternoon rain began: most visitors had headed for home, so we had an almost empty gallery to ourselves and were able to spend time up close to the work on display, all of which was greatly appreciated and enjoyed.

Website: National Trust – Mottisfont

    with thanks to Jane Leishman for organising this event and for the write-up!