Re-opened by artists’ descendant
In lovely Autumn sunshine, the Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Councillor Mo Marsh officially reopened the refurbished William Nicholson Studio, or as his great –grand daughter Rafaele Appleby told us earlier during a study day at Whiteway Centre, William and Mabel’s studio. For it seemed his wife used it as much as he did, and it was the sale of one of her paintings that paid for it !
Exhibition at The Grange
Rafaele, continuing a tradition of creativity which runs through the family came down from her Cumberland home to trace the landscape which had attracted an elegant and accomplished Edwardian artist to Rottingdean. Her lively exhibition at the Grange Gallery is in the very house which Nicholson renamed and had Edwin Lutyens restyle before the first World War.
Introduction to the artists
At the Whiteway Centre built in the further reaches of his garden , the study day included an introduction to Sir William by Peter Merry an artist and collector of Nicholson’s early woodcut graphics done with his brother-in-law James Pryde as the Beggarstaff Brothers. Then Jackie Parry, (University of Sussex) broadened the story to explore William’s famous son Ben, the abstract artist married to Winifred Nicholson and then to Barbara Hepworth, both famous in their own right.
The continuing tradition
It was the women artists in the family that Rafaele introduced us to in the afternoon, a wonderful display of images showing the same sense of spontaneous delight, individuality and energy shown in Rafaele’s own work. Within the Studio itself was displayed a fine portrait of Sir William done by Rafaele’s daughter. So the tradition continues. The Studio, with its fine North facing window and even light sits in the grounds of St Margaret’s C of E Primary School. It is a facility, which will be shared between the school and the Whiteway Centre for adult learning next door.
So it was fitting that at the unveiling of the plaque that Simon Harteley, head master of St Margarets, Peter Hewetson-Brown, chairman of Whiteways Trustees and Chris Davidson of Rottingdean Preservation Society (who administer the Grange) should join hands to recognise the sharing of William and Mabel’s studio.