Constable comes to Thornton Heath in National Gallery tour

Here’s one way of getting the Tories to have our public libraries operating on a more regular, daily basis: stage a National Gallery exhibition.

Thornton Heath public library, which under Conservative Mayor Jason Perry is routinely only open three days each week, is open today and through the rest of this week as part of a National Gallery tour which is bringing a landscape by the 19th Century master, John Constable, to CR7.

They will even be open until Sunday, July 8, for the exhibit.

Piss-poor Perry, the borough’s only-just-elected Mayor, has of course hailed the arrival of the artwork from the National Gallery as some kind of endorsement for the misfiring, bungled Borough of Culture year.

In fact, the arrival of the painting only serves to highlight how the people of Thornton Heath are denied access to culture for half of most weeks when their library on Brigstock Road is shut.

Pastoral scene: The Cornfield, by John Constable, on display in Thornton Heath this week

The National Gallery’s tour is taking the 1826 Cornfield (“much-loved”, they say) to a different location each week “popping up in secret locations across the UK”.

The painting is just one of more than 2,300 works in the National Gallery collection. This one is being trotted out for a couple of months in an ever-so-slightly patronising manner, having so far been displayed on the Isle of Wight, and in Basildon, Jarrow and Dudley. How marvellous!

“This week your National Gallery comes to your high street with John Constable’s painting, The Cornfield. Come and see this incredible painting, alongside views of rural Croydon and visit on Saturday July 8 for special family day with performances and activities in the library’s garden!”

Lovely. Then next week, in piss-poor Perry’s Croydon, it’s back to normal as the library reverts to being closed on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday…

Thornton Heath Library with the National Gallery exhibition is open today until 6pm, then Wednesday until Friday 10am to 6pm, Saturday 9am to 5pm and Sunday 11am to 5pm.

And from tomorrow, there will be an addition exhibit, with photographs from Ameena Rojee that portray conservation grazing in Croydon, promising “a very special guest”. Fingers crossed it’s not Mayor Perry…

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4 Responses to Constable comes to Thornton Heath in National Gallery tour

  1. Michael Hall says:

    More information on the painting itself here, from the National Gallery’s website.

  2. David White says:

    Credit where it’s due, this seems to be a small step in the right direction by Mayor Perry. With the Counci’s financial position still dire, it makes sense to lock into funding from outside sources, such as this venture by the National Gallery. (I’m assuming the bulk of the cost will not fall on Croydon council tax payers).

    But there’s no evidence yet that Mr Perry has his eye on the big picture, namely getting the Government to write off Croydon’s historic debt and fund Croydon fairly.

    • Credit where it’s due, David, this is a National Gallery initiative in which Part-time Perry and his council will have played a vanishingly small part.

  3. Lewis White says:

    Constable is likely to have travelled through Croydon en route to stay with the Lambert family in the Manor House at Woodmansterne.

    Constable painted a touching picture of the Lambert Children standing with a donkey, with the old Parish Church in the background, and the village pond. The church was rebuilt, re-using most of the old materials, a few decades later, in 1870. The pond was, sadly, filled in , when piped water came to the district after 1880 or so.

    He recorded in his diaries that Squire Lambert was an old fashioned sort of Country gentleman, of the kind with hunting memorabilia and old traps etc, hung on the walls.
    Woodmansterne was very quiet, and out of the way, in spite of being ony 15 miles from Charing Cross. Still is, in many ways.

    It is years since I read them– must do so again soon.

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