Gordon Rushmer follows trail of poet Hilaire Belloc for The South Country at Haslemere Museum

By Culture24 Reporter | 05 October 2011
A photo of water cascading down rocks and moss
© Gordon Rushmer
Exhibition: The South Country, Haslemere Educational Museum, Haslemere, until October 15 2011

When artist and South Downs lover Gordon Rushmer was knee-high to grasshoppers on the rolling West Sussex hills, his mother taught him all the verses of writer Hilaire Belloc’s poem, The South Country.

“I did not know then just how powerful an influence his ode to the men and boys of Sussex would have on my work as an artist,” he reflects, having following Belloc’s trail for an exhibition full of the idylls which inspired his hero.

“I have travelled and captured scenes from around the world through my paintings and, like Belloc, have always returned to the South Country, which remains my greatest inspiration.”

Rushmer has spent decades painting across Europe and America as well as working as a war artist in Kosovo, Eritrea, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“After working in such difficult, dangerous and intense conditions for nearly 15 years, it was a relief to return to the more pastoral side of my work,” he says.

“I was able to get back to my roots with a fresh intensity and look on this new exhibition as the start of another era in my professional life.”

There are paintings of Shipley, where where Belloc bought land and a house to live with his family until shortly before his death, and Gumber Farm near Bignor where there is a plaque to the writer along with the inscription “Lift up your hearts in Gumber”.

Other scenes travel across the Weald and Downs, making for an invigorating display worthy of the most picturesque terrain in the land.

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