Chelmsford Museum has acquired two artworks by local artist Edward Middleditch (1923-1987) with the help of The Art Fund
, the UK's leading independent art charity.
The Art Fund, which is funded by its 80,000 members and donations, gave the museum £13,000 towards the £14,000 cost of Seascape 1 (1974), a panoramic oil painting and Untitled (Reflections) (circa 1971), an abstract charcoal sketch.
Seascape 1 depicts a calm sea under a bank of rolling cloud. The movement of the water is evoked by irregular, corrugated lines, arranged to show the perspective gradually receding towards the horizon. The location is ambiguous but it is typical of East Anglian waterways like the Blackwater Estuary, 15 miles from Chelmsford.
Born and brought up in Chelmsford, Edward Middleditch was a painter, draughtsman and teacher who achieved much critical attention early in his career, when his interests in pattern, light and motion placed him at the forefront of his profession. Bodies of fresh and sea water are a recurring theme in his work.
Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: "These fine works are a significant acquisition for Chelmsford Museum as they are the first by Middleditch to enter its collection. Together, these works enable us to appreciate the interest and techniques of this great local artist."
Chelmsford Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Parks and Heritage, Councillor Christopher Kingsley commented: "At Chelmsford Museum we have felt the lack of any work by Middleditch, an important artist of his period nationally as well as locally. We are delighted that we have had this opportunity to acquire not just one but two pictures and look forward to displaying them when our refurbished displays are ready. We would like to thank James Hyman Gallery and the Middleditch Estate for making these available at an advantageous price, and The Art Fund, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and a local donor for making it possible for us to purchase them."
Seascape 1 has been acquired by Chelmsford Museum as part of Enriching Regions, an initiative run by The Art Fund and funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. The scheme, designed to assist the museums with the greatest need, encourages collecting in the West Midlands, East of England and East Midlands.
Chelmsford Museum is currently undergoing a programme of renovation and extension. Seascape 1 will go on display later in the year.