Calling all Thelwell fans! Unseen art goes on show

  • Fans of Norman Thelwell can see previously unseen works by the artist, as a new exhibition opens in Hampshire.

    The exhibition titled: “Thelwell: Ponies and places” opened at Mottisfont on Saturday (16 January) and runs until 10 April.

    The celebrated artist is best known for his hilarious cartoons of little girls on plump little ponies.

    First created in the 50s and published extensively ever since, Thelwell drew the endearing characters Penelope and her naughty pony Kipper in hundreds of hilarious scenarios.

    His pony cartoons were joined by Thelwell’s other amusing observations of 20th-century country life.

    “Selecting the work for this exhibition has been the most wonderful job — we were constantly laughing,” said the curator Louise Govier.

    The Water Jump © Norman Thelwell

    Displayed alongside the cartoons are the artist’s lesser-known landscapes.

    He lived close to Motisfont, a country house now owned by the National Trust, and captured the landscape and villages of the surrounding Hampshire countryside on canvas.

    “The breath-taking landscapes were the real revelation, and once you’ve seen them, you realise that Thelwell included similar scenes as beautiful, detailed backdrops in all of his large colour cartoons,” Ms Govier added.

    Children visiting the NT property during half-term (13-21 February) can take part in ‘giddy gallops,’ an activity trail inspired by the exhibition.

    Norman Thelwell was born on 3 May 1923 in Cheshire. His first pony cartoon was published in 1953 and led to a lifetime association with the little girl on the fat, hairy pony.

    The success of the Thelwell pony enabled the artist to leave teaching in 1956 and become a full-time illustrator.

    His 34 books have sold over 2m copies in the UK and his drawings have featured on merchandise from table mats to bedlinen.

    Also on display in the exhibition at Mottisfont are a series of never-before-seen sketches and a selection of models which the artist created as prototypes for merchandise.

    For more details about the exhibition visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/mottisfont

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