Ian Grutchfield, venue director of Hadleigh Old School.

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A former boys school, the venue has historic links to the Benton End group of painters and hosted the last Suffolk exhibition curated by Cedric Morris (1889-1982). Hadleigh was home to the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing (c.1940-82).

In 2022, it is hosting a series of art talks from February 1-8, including an event to mark the 40th anniversary of Morris’ death.

Grutchfield is looking for speakers who knew artists from the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing at Benton End as well as co-operation with other galleries that champion artists from this area. Artists who came to Hadleigh include Katheen Hale, Lucian Freud, Mollie Russell Smith, Lucy Harwood, Joan Warburton, Valerie Thornton and Rosemary Rutherford.

Email or write to 3-5 Bridge Street, Hadleigh, Ipswich Suffolk IP7 6BY.

1 What is your area of focus?

Modern British art. I found a pamphlet for A Fascination of Flowers held at Hadleigh Old School in 1979. It was the last local exhibition of works by Sir Cedric Morris in his lifetime; his friend Beth Chatto opened the show. I am interested in all the so-called ‘Benton End’ artists, including the English Surrealist Arthur Lett-Haines.

2 Have you noticed any collecting trends in the last 6-12 months?

Online auctions are now stock trade. I have a long list of alerts for artist names. A big trend is the continual move to the countryside with former metropolis dwellers finding they can buy larger houses and have empty wall space that needs beautiful paintings.

3 What is one great discovery you’ve made?

Spring and Summer Flowers by Cedric Morris. Bought as a rather overmounted ‘school of’ watercolour at an online auction, my framer discovered the title verso and when I showed it to an elderly friend from Benton End, he remembered seeing it in the attic. Watercolours – rather than oils – were done as teaching aids for the students and then given to them.


'Spring and Summer Flowers' by Cedric Morris, a work discovered at an online auction.

4 One lesson you would pass on to a newcomer in the trade?

I feel I am too green to offer others advice – at best I say pause to let a customer view the picture before attempting any sales pitch.

5 Who do you admire in the art/ antiques world?

Robert Davey, aka ‘Stoner Monk’, who was secretary to Benton End in the 1940s and a local solicitor with the most exciting range of clients and friends – from the Kray twins to Maggi Hambling.

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