Two exhibitions featuring artwork from a father and son with connections to the Horsham area opened at the town’s museum last month.
The dual exhibitions ‘The Artist as a Young Man: Bainbridge Copnall in Horsham, 1913-1934’ and ‘Abstract Adventurer: John Copnall of Slinfold,’ will run simultaneously at Horsham Museum in the Causeway until July 20.
Bainbridge Copnall came to Horsham with his father, a celebrated photographer, and was a prolific painter, wood and stone sculptor, while his son John Copnall was born in Slinfold and was seen as one of the outstanding abstract artists of post-war Britain.
Son and grandson of the two artists is James Copnall, who lives in London and has worked as the BBC’s Sudan correspondent. On his father’s work James said: “The exhibition is extremely nice. The more people who see his work the better.
“I like how the exhibition is laid out in the progression of his styles. You get a sense of how the style changes.”
“There’s a huge change of style but the fundamental belief in colour and good technique was a thing that appeared throughout,” he added.
“He was a lovely guy and he was a kind father, who gave me an appreciation of art.”
The exhibition on John Copnall focuses on his art and it provides a rare opportunity to see the creative talents of an artist from Horsham. His abstract works use bold colours and although known for his striped paintings also include other works. The creativity to turn a blank canvas in to something that is drawn not from something seen, or remembered, is challenging for the viewer to appreciate, but the technical ability in handling paint, colour and technique is apparent in every canvas on display.
His father Bainbridge Copnall was a prolific artist, carved wooden panels for the SS Queen Mary state room, and saw his picture ‘Whither’ exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, which forms the centrepiece of the exhibition.
Bainbridge Copnall’s daughter and John Copnall’s sister Jill Neff, who lives at her father’s old studio in Kent, said: “He [Bainbridge Copnall] was a workaholic and he always held the stage when he was at a party. He was always the one who was talking the most. His work was very important to him and every day he would get up and he would go to his studio.
“If he was on holiday even then he would take the easel out and paint where he was.”