Remarkable Wealden artist reveals scenes of war at Horsham Museum

King's Palace, Kabul, by Gordon Rushmer
King's Palace, Kabul, by Gordon Rushmer

The list of national and international art galleries and museums that have acquired the work of Gordon Rushmer is impressive.

His work has been exhibited by Tate Britain London and The Imperial War Museum, and purchased by HM Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the Royal Archive, the House of Lords and National Library Wales.

Now, visitors to Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum and Art Gallery have the rare opportunity to acquire new work by one of this country’s leading watercolourists, work that reflects both his life as a resident of the Weald and life as an official war artist in Bosnia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The exhibition, A Wealden Artist Goes to War, explores, through one of the most delicate artistic mediums, the military conflict that has dominated the world stage for the past 20 years.

It also provides a reflection on every day Wealden life by someone who has experienced it and can interpret it through a quintessentially English medium.

The show is supported by Toovey’s Fine Art Valuers.

Gordon Rushmer has had a remarkable life. Asked to illustrate a Christmas card for the Royal Marines, he was then asked to join the Dutch army. However, this was not the everyday army, but the elite forces. His job was to paint their wartime activities in Bosnia.

That commission snowballed and for the next 15 years Robert put on military gear, trained with the professionals and captured the intensity and boredom of military life.

Using his artist’s eye, he sought out everyday scenes and views that are not recorded elsewhere.

Gordon said: “It was an unforgettable experience working alongside British and Dutch elite forces with survival being the number one priority. It provided the opportunity to capture different situations through the eyes of the people on the frontline. I was not there to present a sanitised, public relations version of what was happening.”

One painting, ‘The King’s Palace, Kabul’, won the Rowland Hilder Award from the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours in London. While the military paintings are a revelation it is Gordon’s scenes of everyday life in the Weald that root the exhibition in the here and now.

“After working in such difficult, dangerous and intense conditions, it was a relief to return to the more pastoral side of my work.

“I was able to get back to my roots with a fresh intensity at the start of another era in my professional life.”

A Wealden Artist Goes to War is open now and runs until May 28.

This is a very rare opportunity for visitors to Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum, to gain an insight into life on the frontline and to acquire one of Gordon’s paintings.

To find out more call 01403 254959 or visit

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