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As part of Dickens 150, Rochester Art Gallery have just announced the long awaited winners of their Print Open Call organised as part of the Dickens commemorations and MPF20.

The category winners are:

  • Edwin Drood Book Cover – Neil Mattingly – ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’
  • The Victorian Way of Death – Gloria Holden – ‘City Ghosts 
  • Dickens & Medway – Adam Hanson – ‘Through the Dead Night’

joint winner with

  • Dickens & Medway – Heather Haythornthwaite – ‘Dark Cathedral’
  • Death in Dickens Life & Novels – Paul Jerome – ‘Bullseye’
  • Young Printmaker Under 21 – Tilly Flood ‘Where he Rests’

The winners each receive a £100 prize.

The competition judges had an extremely difficult task selecting and scoring the 100 entries and they were very impressed by the high standard of works submitted, the range of print techniques used and the ideas and varying approaches to the themes.

All the work submitted will feature in the much awaited ‘Last Dream of my Soul’ exhibition at the gallery which is currently being rescheduled.

Keep an eye on the Gallery Instagram and Facebook pages as they explore the work of each winner over the coming days throughout #Dickens150 as well as other entrants in the run up to the show.

Thanks go to the expert panel of judges:

  • Emma Stibbon RA – Senior Lecturer in Fine Art Printmaking at the University of Brighton
  • Ian Bottle – Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, UCA Canterbury
  • Dr Jeremy Clarke – Education Officer, (& Dickens expert) The Guildhall Museum,
  • Cllr Howard Doe – Deputy Leader, Medway Council
  • Peter Hatton – Director of Design Programmes, University of Kent
  • Steve Martin MBA – Rochester and Chatham, Dickens Fellowship
  • Allison Young – Freelance Curator, Rochester Art Gallery


Sun Pier House were due to be showing prints by Joseph Webb as part of MPF20, sadly this had to be postponed until 2021. For now we would like to share something about this fascinating collection held by and curated by renowned printmaker jane Furst.

Joseph Webb ARE (1908-1962)

Romantic Tradition and Romance in Life

Acclaimed as a master etcher at a young age Joseph Webb falls into that category of early 20th Century etchers who follow the Romantic Tradition. This was a love of pre-industrial English landscape celebrated by Samuel Palmer in his visionary watercolours and etchings produced whilst at Shoreham in Kent around 1825-1835.

Amongst those artists inspired by Palmer are Paul Drury and Graham Sutherland. Webb’s inspirations go beyond as he admired William Blake, Rembrandt and Turner. In fact he never mentioned Palmer to my mother, Beryl Gascoigne, who knew Joseph at the height of his powers.

Our collection of Webb’s prints and some paintings, came into my mother’s possession via his sister in the 1970’s. My mother’s early years were dominated by a romantic relationship with Joseph Webb. My grandmother was the first of our family to meet Joseph when he was drawing an oak tree in Ealing Common near where she lived at the time. (Joseph’s father ran a market Garden in Hanger Lane, and he was born nearby in Ealing.) My grandmother and Joseph became friends but when my mother in her late teens fell in love with Joseph and he with her, my grandmother took my mother to South Africa to get away. She did not want her daughter marrying an impoverished artist.

In South Africa my mother met and married my father, but her relationship with Joseph Webb was rekindled some years later on several return visits to England.

My mother has about 90 letters from Joseph Webb in her possession. By the end of Webb’s life they were no longer in touch as most of this period my mother spent in South Africa bringing up children under difficult circumstances.

In spite of the diminish to their romantic association in later years, my mother is, never the less , devoted to the belief that Joseph Webb is a great Artist. This has led her to guard and preserver the works together. On account of this collection we have had many dealings, over the years, with museums, dealers and collectors.

Since 1985 I have curated the collection, and have overseen three students working on dissertations about Joseph Webb’s Prints. One of these students also showed an interest in his paintings.

Works held by Museums; British Museum, V&A Museum London, Fitzwilliam Cambridge, Aberystwyth School of Art, Ashmolean Oxford.

Jane Furst, 2020

Background

Joseph Webb is best known amongst collectors for his etchings Rat Barn 1928 and Dream Barn 1929. He is generally regarded as being part of the revival of the pastoral tradition of whom Graham Sutherland, robin Farmer and Paul Drury stand as figureheads.

Kenneth Guichard in British Etchers 1850-1940 numbers 53 etchings and dry points between the years 1927-1937 and says of him “Webb is one of the least known and most interesting etchers of the 1930s.” Guichard makes reference to the ‘truly religious qualities’ in some of Webb’s etchings, such as Asylum and Shepherds Haven and the extraordinary imaginary buildings of ‘ecclesiastical structure set in landscapes of carved rock’.

These hints suggest an artist of originality and important to the history of print making who stretches beyond the pastoral in his aspirations. (This is further elucidated when one looks ay the paintings held by the dealer Hillary Gerrish and also my mother Beryl Gascoigne.) I believe it is significant that Guichard chose (in 1977) to list Webb’s work as best he could along with only three others represented thus in British Etchers.

Since 1985 I have been involved in helping to mount three exhibitions on Webb’s work: Perrin Gallery, Leighton House, 1985; Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, 1987; and the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, 1989. I have also provided material for two student theses from our collection. During this time, whilst following my own artistic path, I have become familiar with the work sand gained insights into the creative thread linking contrasting subject matter.

It is a wonderful opportunity presented to me that with my other’s permission I put some deep thought and analysis into this exceptional artist’s work before it becomes dispersed, either through further sales or items going to public collections. The oeuvre is remarkable for the range of techniques as well as the ideas expressed.

My mother and I have become known, over the past 20 years since the collection came into our hands, to all the important dealers and curators, some of whom I could contact for advice if and when needed.

Our connection with the Webb family goes back to my grandmother’s first meeting with Joseph drawing a tree in Ealing Common when he had just graduated from Hospitalfield Art School, Arbroath. Subsequently at the age of 12 my mother met and fell in love with him when she was 17. Their ‘love affair’ and later correspondence spanned some 20-30 years overlapping my mother’s marriage to my father.

Jane Furst, 2020