Tuesday, 03 August 2021

Piper gallery appeal pays off for museum

HENLEY’S River & Rowing Museum is to launch a gallery dedicated to the work of

HENLEY’S River & Rowing Museum is to launch a gallery dedicated to the work of local artist John Piper — after hitting its crowdfunding target of £22,000 with just days to spare.

The appeal, which was launched on the Art Fund website in mid-May, reached 100 per cent on Monday.

At the time of going to press the total stood at £26,077 — making the project 118 per cent funded. A total of 176 people have donated to the cause so far.

The appeal has now expired — with the money raised set to be used to create the largest permanent exhibition of Piper’s work in the world at the Mill Meadows museum.

The painter and printmaker, who died in 1992 aged 88, spent most of his working life at his farmhouse in Fawley, where he built a pottery and a studio large enough to create full-sized designs for stained-glass windows.

Speaking on Tuesday, the artist’s great-granddaughter Jessica Piper said: “I speak on behalf of all my family when I say how extremely proud and honoured we are that the local community has supported the River & Rowing Museum’s vision and my great grandfather’s work in this way.

“He would have been delighted to have a gallery dedicated to his work in Henley, his local town for nearly 60 years. We simply cannot express how thankful and excited we are about the new John Piper gallery. Thank you to everyone who donated.”

River & Rowing Museum chief executive Ludo Keston added: “Henley is already world-famous as the home of the royal regatta and of rowing. Now our town will also become known as being home to the only permanent gallery dedicated to John Piper’s work — one of the most significant artists of the 20th century. We’re thrilled that thanks to the generosity of the public, the River & Rowing Museum will be bringing John Piper’s art to life for a whole new audience.”

The news was welcomed by Patricia Jordan-Evans, the founder and director of the Bohun Gallery in Reading Road, Henley, who enjoyed a close working relationship with Piper during his lifetime and has now been exhibiting his work for more than 40 years.

She said: “We are thrilled that the crowdfunding initiative has been such a success and that there will be a serious exhibition space devoted to John Piper at the River and Rowing Museum.

“The opportunity to show this artist’s diverse and varied output on a permanent basis will help to further estabish Piper’s major position within 20th century art.”

Due to open in December, the new John Piper Gallery will bring together some of the artist’s greatest creations, including rare pieces from private collections seldom seen by the public.

The museum will also receive pieces personally donated by the Piper family, who are keen to mark the artist’s prolific and extraordinary talent with a dedicated permanent gallery in his home town.

Further details of the project are available online at www.artfund.org — or visit www.rrm.co.uk

• To celebrate the opening of its new interactive family fun exhibition Picture This: Children’s Illustrated Classics, the River & Rowing Museum is running a “Children go free” weekend at the start of the school holidays. From Thursday, July 21, to Monday, July 25, children accompanied by a paying adult will be admitted free. For full details of the exhibition, visit the museum’s website at www.rrm.co.uk

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