In 1995 I wandered out from my office in Taunton to an auction sale with the intention of buying a representative example of the Painting and Sculpture of the late Rachel Reckitt. Two or three works at most ..... but astonished by the pieces available I returned with a receipt for more than 50 works of art... Sculpture, Paintings, Drawings and Abstract Constructions.
We had known Rachel's work from the collections of friends in Somerset and we already owned a much loved small painting, now thanks to my wild enthusiasm we suddenly owned a major collection.
For over 15 years we have enjoyed this collection and come to admire and respect Rachel's later work. which was inspired by the Russian Constructivist Movement.We have never had the room to display it all at once. We enjoyed some paintings hanging in the house. The constructions we hung or stood on a rotating basis in our dining room. Sculptures we brought out onto the lawns on the sunny days of summer and hurried them inside again when the weather broke. We found spaces in our offices to show and store some smaller works and occasionally for parties in the garden we hung Constructions on outside walls.
Now we feel the time has come to enjoy and see the work in its entirety for the last time. We have chosen the medieval Church House at Crowcombe with its great beamed roof for this exciting 20th Century collection as a suitable space in the Quantock Hills and close to Exmoor and Golsoncott - Rachel's home.
We hope to ensure that by their dispersal ,individual works will be conserved and treasured for the future in more hands than ours. We have sought to keep all the work in the condition in which it was found in Rachel's studio in 1996 and we have resisted the temptation to interfere with amateur conservation - we can, however recommend a small number of conservators in the South West who would undertake sensitive restoration to the inevitable marches of time for anyone so inclined.
I hope you will enjoy the exhibition.
I couldn't complain or even feign surprise, although I must admit to being a little overwhelmed, by the sudden and unexpected appearance of the Rachel Reckitt Collection. For over 30 years Louise has put up with my eccentric habits of acquiring tattered old drawings, bits of battered carved wood, more pots than we could ever use and every house we have ever owned filled up with books. Apart from an edict issued sometime in the 1990's not to buy any more old chairs - particularly ones that fall to bits when sat upon, we have managed to rub along without falling out.
Art has always been an enthusiasm for both of us - from my schooldays Christopher Wood and Henry Moore were early inspirations; London exhibitions and galleries were eye-opening. My first serious understanding of 20th century sculpture came from the Arts Council Exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 1973... 'Pioneers of Modern Sculpture' and for the first time I understood that sculpture in essence and in purpose had changed direction in the early 20th century. I cannot claim that Rachel Reckitt was a pioneer, but in her extraordinary burst of creativity at a time when she was in her 60s and 70s, she reconnected her work to the mainstream of European Modernism in no uncertain way. Influences of the Russian Constructivists of the 1930's are very apparent
Much of my previously meagre knowledge of Rachel's life and work has been enlightened by the author Hal Bishop, who so ably curated the exhibition ...' Rachel Reckitt- where everything that meets the eye... - a retrospective'. It was held in 2001 at the Somerset County Museums of Taunton and Glastonbury and subsequently at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter. His outstanding and authoritative catalogue which was published to accompany this exhibition is inspirational for anyone interested in Rachel's art. We are also indebted to the Golsoncott
Foundation for permission to reproduce Rachel's work for this event.
It has been a great joy and a privilege to live amongst this group of artwork for all these years and as in many other things I have Louise's enthusiasms to thank - but for these marvellous works of art we are hugely grateful to Rachel Reckitt and her artistic legacy.