A major exhibition of the work of one of Britain’s most popular cartoonists, Norman Thelwell is currently running at Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire, a historical priory and country estate operated by the National Trust.
Best known for his hilarious cartoons of plump little girls on equally spherical ponies, these familiar pictures are joined by other satires of twentieth-century life, alongside beautiful paintings of local landscapes.
Thelwell: Ponies and Places features over 70 original artworks taken from the Thelwell family archive, includes many that have never been on show before.
First created in the 1950s and published extensively since, Thelwell’s pony cartoons are still easily recognisable today. The artist drew the endearing characters Penelope and her mischievous pony Kipper in hundreds of humorous scenarios, from ungainly jumps and gallops to the destruction of country fairs.
Thelwell also produced numerous other satirical cartoons, with astute and amusing observations on country life, from gardening and fishing to the upkeep of heritage properties.
While these images have given Thelwell a lasting reputation as a talented cartoonist, he is less well known for his beautiful landscape art. Thelwell lived close to Mottisfont and captured the surrounding countryside in a series of stunning watercolours.
The Mottisfont exhibition reveals many of these pictures, including images of Mottisfont itself, Romsey Abbey, and the landscape and villages of the Test Valley, brought to life by an extraordinary talent for naturalistic painting.
Displayed alongside Thelwell’s well-loved cartoons, the exhibition also demonstrates how the artist’s amusing observations on life in the country are rooted in a deep-seated love of the Hampshire landscape.
Both beautiful and funny, Thelwell’s work is the perfect antidote for those late winter blues. His wit is as fresh now as the day his watercolour and ink dried.
• Thelwell: Ponies and Places exhibition at Mottisfont runs until 10th April, 11.00am – 5/00pm, Mottisfont, Mottisfont Ln, Romsey SO51 0LP. Tel: 01794 340757. Admission to the gallery is free (normal property prices apply). For more about Mottisfont visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont
Thanks to Jeremy Briggs for the heads up on this exhibition