Ambitious plans to build Soper Collection art gallery in Lavenham unveiled
Ambitious plans to celebrate a family art collection, which is dedicated to rural life and the working horse, have been unveiled.
The Soper Collection comprises more than 700 works of art by George Soper, plus artwork and porcelain by his daughters, Eve and Eileen.
Eileen was a famous illustrator for Enid Blyton, including the Famous Five books, while Eva’s porcelain achieved strong recognition.
A fundraising appeal has been launched to open up the collection to a wider audience through a purpose-built education centre and art gallery celebrating the family’s love of rural life and wildlife.
A charity company has been formed to drive the project, with land identified near Lavenham in Suffolk.
The Soper Collection was the brainchild of late local resident John Baker, and his wife Joy, who became captivated by the work of the family 25 years ago.
Speaking on behalf of the Soper Collection, Joy said: “This is an exquisite collection that should be enjoyed by a wider audience. But there is also an educational attraction, which is equally important.
“I quickly fell in love with the work of the family - the luminosity and the sheer grace and power of the work.
“The draftsmanship, colour and, above all else, is the movement. Everything is about movement.”
The exciting plans have been backed by TV and radio personality, Paul Heiney, an advocate for the preservation of working horses.
Mr Heiney, who worked Suffolk Punch and other heavy horses on his farm in Saxmundham for ten years in the 1990s, said he is thrilled to be supporting the plan.
He explained he sees it as a celebration of working horses as well as the work of the Soper family.
“When I heard about the plans to house this amazing works of one family in a gallery and education centre and create, among other things, a celebration of the working horse, I was always going to support it,” said Mr Heiney.
“I think the working horse is underappreciated, especially in rural counties like Suffolk.
“We should celebrate the culture of the working horse and I am delighted that this is going to keep that alive.
“This is an ambitious project but I think the Lavenham area is the perfect place for it – in the heart of the Eastern Counties and where there is so much tradition around the working horse.”
To learn more, visit www.thesopercollection.org.