Town's artworks to be restored

By David GreenFOUR sketches of East Anglian characters from the 19th Century are being restored, along with eight oil paintings in a £29,000 project.

By David Green

FOUR sketches of East Anglian characters from the 19th Century are being restored, along with eight oil paintings in a £29,000 project.

All the art works are from Eye Town Hall, where they have suffered long-term deterioration as a result of damp conditions.

The project also involves research into the history of the works, the people shown in them and the artists.

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The pencil and chalk sketches are being restored by Judith Gowland, who lives near Eye, while the oil paintings, which date from the 18th to the 20th Century, are being restored by Julie Crick, a Cambridge-based specialist.

Mrs Gowland said the sketches were the work of Robert Mendham, who lived in Church Street, Eye, and studied and exhibited at the Royal Academy in London.

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Only two of the characters in the four sketches have so far been identified. One, dated 1845, is of a farmer called William Harper, while the other is of Thomas Folger, of Oakley, at the age of 89.

The other two sketches show an old woman in a cap and an overweight man sitting on a chair.

Sara Muldoon, who headed the fundraising effort for the restoration project, said all the works were usually displayed in the council chamber at Eye Town Hall.

The earliest painting, thought to be by Nathaniel Dance, is of Lieutenant-General R Burton Phillipson, who was MP for Eye in the second half of the 18th Century.

One of the paintings, entitled Eye Worthies Around the Market Cross and featuring local tradespeople, is also by Robert Mendham.

Another large painting is of General Sir Edward Kerrison, who owned a large estate at Brome and Oakley and who fought in the Battle of Waterloo. He is shown with his batman and the horse he rode in the battle.

Ms Muldoon said £22,000 of the £29,000 restoration project funding had been contributed by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“All the paintings and sketches should be returning to the Town Hall by April next year and they will go back on display in the council chamber,” she added.

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