Plans unveiled for education centre and art gallery to celebrate family's work
PUBLISHED: 10:20 23 July 2018 | UPDATED: 11:50 23 July 2018
Ambitious plans to celebrate an exquisite family art collection dedicated to rural life and the working horse in west Suffolk have been unveiled.
A fundraising appeal has been launched to open up the Soper Collection to a wider audience through a purpose-built education centre and art gallery near Lavenham.
The collection comprises more than 700 works of art by George Soper as well as artwork and porcelain by his two daughters, Eve and Eileen.
Eileen was a famous illustrator for Enid Blyton, including all of the Famous Five books, while Eva’s porcelain designs achieved strong recognition.
The Soper Collection was the brainchild of late local resident John Baker, and his wife Joy, who became captivated by the work of the family 25 years ago.A charity company has been formed to drive the project and land has been identified near the historic west Suffolk village.
Speaking on behalf of the Soper Collection, Mrs Baker said: “This is an exquisite collection that should be enjoyed by a wider audience. But there is also a huge educational attraction which is equally important.
“I quickly fell in love with the work of the family - the luminosity and the sheer grace and power of the work.
“The draftsmanship, colour and, above all else, is the movement. Everything is about movement.”
The exciting plans have received the backing of television and radio personality, Paul Heiney, who is an advocate for the preservation of working horses.
Mr Heiney, who worked Suffolk Punch and other heavy horses on his farm in Saxmundham for ten years in the 1990s, said he is thrilled to be supporting the plan.
“When I heard about the plans to house this amazing works of one family in a gallery and education centre and create, among other things, a celebration of the working horse, I was always going to support it,” he said.
“I think the working horse is underappreciated, especially in rural counties like Suffolk. We should celebrate the culture of the working horse and I am delighted that this is going to keep that alive.
“This is an ambitious project but I think the Lavenham area is the perfect place for it – in the heart of the eastern counties and where there is so much tradition around the working horse.”=
The plans have also been backed by artist, author and founder of member of the Society of Wildlife artists, Robert Gillmor who described the discovery of the Soper Collection as like “discovering Tutankhamun’s tomb.”
For more information on the Soper Collection, visit www.thesopercollection.org