Into the Sunset: the end of an odyssey

Farewells can often be very bittersweet and such was the case at our end of season party this week.

After a stunning seven month season, centred on the once in a lifetime opportunity to host the 41 First World War paintings by Sir Alfred Munnings now owned by Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, our gathering at Castle House on a cold and misty autumn night was an opportunity to extend a huge thank you the many who have supported our work this year.

A playful note was struck by guests adorned with various maple leaf-inspired designs and we had a fair share of lumberjacks – and lumberjanes!



Poetry had its place amidst the party when, in her address to the gathered guests, Jenny Hand, Director of the museum, gave a reading of Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘But I Look at the Permanent Stars’. It allowed for a moment of timely quiet and reflection for all those who made sacrifices during 1914-1918.









As we gathered in the hall of Castle House, surrounded as we were by Munnings’ paintings and sketches and watched over by the smiling and playful commercial illustrations that hang along the stairway, the celebration felt just right. Understandably, too, our guests took one last opportunity to view the Behind the Lines exhibition before the paintings return home to Canada all too soon.








Charles Proudfoot, who co-curated Behind the Lines with Brenda Parrish, quietly explained in a conversation over drinks just how moved he was to have contributed to the museum in this way; making the point that he could never have forseen such an opportunity when he was studying First World War art for his Masters Degree. Things so often come full circle.

And so, after a hugely busy and successful (16,000 visitors) season we have, once again, closed the doors to Castle House for the winter break – but as we bid farewell to the paintings we have come to love and admire, we say hello to plans for 2020. This will include new publications as well as new displays.

A huge thank you to all of you that visited us in 2019 and we look forward to seeing you again in 2020.