We hope you are all keeping well and finding plenty to occupy you during these numerous 'lockdowns' and restrictions. As it is so long since we have met, either for lectures or outings, we thought you would be interested to hear some of The Friends' news and plans.
Barbara Logan has decided that it is time for her to retire from the position of Visits Organiser. Since her back was injured in an accident in November 2019, she has been in a lot of pain and also, unbelievably, she will celebrate her 90 th birthday in August ! Barbara joined 'The Friends of Guildford House' in 1993 and within two years was on the Committee and organising the monthly visits to Art Galleries and Stately Homes and Gardens. Her activities did not stop there! Until 2013, she also ran yearly cultural holidays, both to various areas of the UK and abroad. In the 1990s and early 2000s she organised and catered annually for both a Friends 'Winter Lunch' and a 'Summer Supper'. These were held at Burchetts Barn and were extremely popular. In fact, for many years, Barbara has been the heart and soul of 'The Friends'. We thank her sincerely for all her hard and efficient work, for looking after us and for giving us so much enjoyment over the years. Luckily, she has agreed to remain on the Committee and will continue to share the Co-Chairmanship with Hilary Leigh.
We are very grateful to Gwyneth Craske for agreeing to take over the organisation of the visits when the programme resumes.
The Committee is badly in need of new blood if 'The Friends' is to survive. Several of the present members will be retiring in the near future. Please consider carefully if you can help, or if you know another member to put forward. (Contact Hon. Sec. 01483 575535).
Leslie Hines has retired from the position of External Independent Examiner. We thank him for all his work over the years. This means, however, that we are looking for a new External Independent Examiner. If any one can fill this post (it is not arduous), please contact the Hon. Treasurer, John Surrey (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Sadly several of our members have died during the last year including Bill Hawkins. Bill was our Chairman in the early days of 'The Friends' and had been an active member ever since, regularly attending lectures, with his wife Iris, until just before the 'lockdown'.
Unfortunately, due to the current Covid 19 restrictions, it will not be possible to hold the 2021 AGM in the Guildhall on 21 st April as originally planned. Provisionally, it is hoped to hold it in the afternoon of Wednesday 15th September.
Again, due to the pandemic and so many uncertainties about the future and what rules will have to be followed about social distancing, etc, it is impossible to make firm plans for future activities, but we hope to resume both lectures and outings as soon as it is practicable.
As already announced, subscriptions paid for 2020/2021 will be carried over to cover 2021/2022. Members who did not pay last year will be invited to pay their subscription of £15 if they wish to renew their membership for the current year.
Conservation of the GBC John Russell Pastels.
Guildford House Gallery is well known for it's large collection of pastel portraits by John Russell RA (1745-1806), Guildford's most famous artist. John Russell was pastel painter to Geoge III and his son, the Prince of Wales (later George IV). It was largely to add to and care for these portraits that 'The Friends of Guildford House' was formed. Recently Gemma Haigh, Curatorial Assistant in the GBC Heritage Services team has been cataloguing and researching into Russell's work. A number of the pictures required conserving and 'The Friends' were asked if they could help finance this work. After looking into the project and studying the estimates, the Committee agreed and financed the conserving of 17 paintings to
the tune of £7,398. The legacy left to 'The Friends' by the late Miss June Cockell, which in the end amounted to over £1000, was put towards this. The Borough also obtained a grant of £1000 from the Surrey Museum Partnership. The portraits are due to be on display at Guildford House Gallery in an exhibition entitled 'Georgian Women: Female Portraits by John Russell RA' from 29 th May to 26 th September. Put the date in your diary and make sure you visit it. A film that Gemma has produced, with assistance from the National Portrait Gallery, will be displayed in the Garden Room , as an extension of the exhibition. Gemma has also written a booklet about the project and, all being well, she will be talking to us at our AGM in September.
Here's looking forward to us all meeting again in the not too distant future and enjoying lectures and trips together once more.
Barbara Logan and Hilary Leigh.