First donated works of art go on public display

Published: 15 Jul 2019

More than 800 works of art are being donated to schools, museums and community organisations by Hertfordshire County Council.

The donations are all part of the county council’s ongoing review of its artworks, this phase of the project aims to ensure works can be taken out of storage and displayed as widely as possible to members of the public.

Cabinet Member for Education, Libraries and Localism, Cllr Terry Douris said: “We’re delighted that so far 150 artworks from the county council collection have been gifted to a variety of local organisations and will displayed within Hertfordshire schools, leisure centres and museums.

“These artworks will now be accessible to Hertfordshire residents, inspiring visitors in a variety of public venues.”

The donations include:

  • Three still life works by Leo McDowell which will soon be on display at Birchwood Leisure Centre, Hatfield.

  • As well as being a nationally recognised artist who lived in Essendon, Leo was head teacher at Hatfield School when it closed in 1990 and he is fondly remembered by many of his pupils.  Another of his works, ‘Ginger Cat with the Head of Apollo’ is on display in the Welwyn Garden City Central Library.

  • Pieces by another local artist, Michael Brennand-Wood, have been gifted to Welwyn St. Mary’s Primary School, a school which Michael visited in the 1990s and 2000s to host workshops for pupils that inspired their creativity.

  • The school’s Deputy Headteacher, Sheila Anstey said: “We still have a number of children's pieces inspired and created during these fantastic workshops in and around the building. He was an enthusiastic friend of the school during that time and was a great creative male role model. I'm thrilled that we will become custodians of these four lovely pieces and look forward to using them to inspire future teachers and classes as they have done in the past.”

  • Some historical taxidermy specimens, including a hedgehog, a polecat and a variety of birds have also been gifted to the handling collections at the Natural History Museum at Tring and the North Herts Museum. North Herts Museum have been gifted works by artists John Mills, Margaret Brynhild Parker and Robin Mackertich.
  • John Mills was recently at the museum giving a talk and viewed his print ‘Dancer’ that he hadn’t seen since producing it in 1960. Another of his works, a bronze sculpture entitled ‘Rembrandt as Titus’ (1966) also came from the Hertfordshire collection.
  • Visitors to the iconic, timber framed Ashwell Village Museum in north Hertfordshire can see a wonderful collection of works by the Ashwell-born artists, Marie and Pauline Whitby.
  • Hertfordshire County Council has also gifted ‘Dinner Hour’, an oil painting by Marie Whitby, along with her ceramic ‘Cricket Team’ to the Ashwell Village museum. Curators Sarah Talks and Peter Greener and other volunteers welcome visitors, and run monthly ‘Makers in the Museum’ sessions, which feature a different artist or maker, looking at items in the Museum collection.  
  • The museum now owns 33 works by a range of these artists, donated by Hertfordshire County Council. One of these works by Marguerite Frobisher, ‘Bushey Church, Autumn’ is included in the current exhibition, ‘Painting the Seasons – Colour in Art’ which runs to 5 January, 2020.

  • We are working on plans to conserve and display Peter Collingwood hangings in Welwyn Garden City. Collingwood was one of the first fellows at Digswell Arts Trust, Welwyn Garden City in 1957 and became a world renowned weaver.
  • A magnificent example of his work, entitled ‘Sprang’ was restored in 2012 before being installed in the Welwyn Garden City Central Library.
  • Working in partnership with Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, the eight-ton stone sculpture ‘Pearl’ has been returned to her original home in White Lion Square in Hatfield town centre.

  • Created by James Butler RA, the internationally renowned sculptor in 1970, Pearl spent some time at Hatfield School in New Barnfield, under the headship of Leo McDonald, before being put into storage.