Thelwell Country – new exhibition at St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery, Lymington

Fabulous new exhibition of the work of Norman Thelwell, at St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery Lymington


I have just been to the opening evening of the most fabulous new exhibition!


Thelwell cartoon rodeo at St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery Lymington May June 2014It’s a wonderful collection of cartoons and landscapes by Norman Thelwelll,  who lived locally in Hampshire for many years, on the River Test north of Romsey .  His charming son David, an artist too, has loaned a selection of Norman Thelwell’s enormous collection to St Barbe in Lymington for our pleasure and his own too in fact, because these quality artworks normally live in a chest!  But they surely deserve to be viewed and it’s our privilege that they’re here in Lymington for the next few weeks – from Saturday 3 May (Thelwell’s birthday, in 1923) right through until Saturday 14 June.


At St Barbe Lymington of course it’s from one horsey exhibition (War Horse) orHorsH to another, but what different horses!  From tears of sadness to tears of  hilarity!  Thelwell’s speciality as many of us remember from our childhoods was round ponies with even rounder riders, in extraordinary laugh out loud situations impossible to do justice to by describing them – so you’ve got to go and see them!


At that time growing up pony mad we probably didn’t notice (as perhaps our parents did) what a master of social comment Thelwell was – he  adored the countryside and was very critical of many aspects of then “modern” (urban) life, and was never afraid to caricature quite wickedly, in his observations of the British at work and play. 


He sent a cartoon of two fat ponies called Thunder and Lightning to Punch in 1953 and the rest became history – in fact he became one of Britain’s best known cartoonists of the time. His books of cartoons sold worldwide including over 2 million copies in the UK.


Norman Thelwell cartoon st Barbe Museum & Art Gallery Lymington now remember

Of course my children have never heard of him, why would they,  and to be honest I hadn’t thought about him for years although I did in fact meet him once at his home near Romsey and myself rode a pony called Thelwell at the local riding stables in Sway where I spent all my weekends (and who regularly dumped me just like a Thelwell character in the gorse bushes after galloping the length of Longslade!)


Anyway what I wanted to tell you which most of us at the event this evening didn’t know before, was that Norman Thelwell also painted the most beautiful, quality, serious, watercolour landscapes, many of familiar Hampshire locations, and that these were his real passion whilst he made his living from his published cartoons.


Thelwell's landscapes were inspired by his love of the countryside which was lifelong – and once you’ve seen the landscapes, you can see how this shines through the cartoons too.  Once again - you've got to go and see these pictures - describing them cannot do justice to them!

Norman Thelwell watercolour landscape St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery Lymiongton RomseyAbbey


I loved this quote which was on one of the boards in the display:  “With drawing the answer was always there in front of you – you only had to look”.  To me this shows he must have been a very modest man! 





 A few more cartoons below to whet your appetites - now you'll have to go and view them properly and read their wonderful captions!



Thelwell at St Barbe museum & art gallery Lymington - the hunt observers


 Thelwell at St Barbe museum & art gallery Lymington The Toy TrumpetThelwell at st Barbe museum & art gallery Lymington nowrememberwhatItoldgirlsneverlethimseeyoureafraid web.jpg - 37.02 KB







Thelwell Country is a new exhibition at St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery which runs from 3 May to 14 June. 

St Barbe Museum is in New Street, Lymington and is open Mondays to Saturdays 10 am - 4 pm.


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