On Thursday 13th April Bill Bryson OBE opened our Inspired by the Word Exhibition!
Inspired by the Word is a collection of pieces of art by British artists, inspired by Hampshire’s great writers. The exhibition, inspired by Gilbert White, Jane Austen and Edward Thomas will be on display in venues all over the county to celebrate Hampshire’s important literary heritage. The idea behind the exhibition is to celebrate the literary heroes of this county, by featuring art that has been inspired by the words of these great writers, authors and poets, in the hope that visitors will be in turn inspired. We hope that the exhibition will encourage people to visit sites across the county and to discover more about the literary heritage in the heart of Hampshire.
The Opening was a private event attended by supporters of the Museum and exhibition. Dr Rosemary Irwin began the opening by telling the guests how Gilbert White who strove to create a garden full of curiosities and sculptures would have heartily approved of the exhibition. Dr. Irwin reflected on Bill Bryson’s extraordinary writing career and the similarities between him and Gilbert White, of whom Bryson writes about in his book The Road to Little Dribbling, where he describes Gilbert White’s House as a ‘Improbable, but surprisingly splendid package’. Ronnie Davidson-Houston, as his alter-ego Gilbert White, then said a few comical words about Gilbert White and introduced broadcaster Bill Bryson. Bryson commented on how much he enjoyed living in East Hampshire, and how impressed he was at the care the British take over preserving their history and making it relevant. Gilbert White & The Oates Collections and the Inspired By The Word Exhibition were, he commented a great example of this. Mr Bryson reflected that he looked forward to returning to the Museum to have another look at the sculptures ‘It’s wonderful stuff, it absolutely enhances the gardens perfectly, and vice versa.’
Other venues due to open later in the year include Winchester Cathedral, Chawton House Library and The Red House, Christchurch, who will be marking Jane Austen 200th anniversary. Petersfield Museum and Petersfield Physic Garden will be playing host to a number of pieces inspired by Edward Thomas who died 100 years ago this year.
Gilbert White’s garden will play host to the largest collection of work, with eighteen sculptures inspired by the life and work of the great naturalist, whose Natural History of Selborne is reported to be the fourth most published book in the English language. The exhibition has been achievable thanks to a great partnership between the above attractions and The Garden Gallery, who exhibits and sells contemporary sculpture, ceramics, glass and furniture for gardens and interiors. Artists include Geoff Aldred, Danny Clahane, Chris Elsey, Mark Evans, Ayako Furuno, Alyosha Moeran, Jason Mulligan MRBS, Tom Sargeant, Tracey Sheppard FGE, Helen Mary Skelton, Will Spankie, Roger Stephens MRBS and Richard Watts.
The exhibition at Gilbert White & The Oates Collections runs until the 30th September. The pieces which are available for purchase, are all located in Gilbert’s Garden.