Churches encouraged to use rediscovered artwork for fundraising

Published: Tuesday July 9, 2024

The watercolour painting found at St. Bartholomew's Church in Notgrove.A watercolour painting discovered in a cupboard at St Bartholomew’s, Notgrove has sparked a renewed call for churches to use the artwork of R.A. Brown for fundraising.

R.A. Brown, known as Alec, the father of retired priest Helen Sammon, was a Gloucestershire artist who, amongst many other works, painted churches and landscapes around Gloucestershire. In his final years, he embarked on a personal project to paint all 406 churches, and he completed around 260 before he died in 2007.

One of his last wishes was for local churches to reuse them for fundraising in the form of postcards or calendars.

To honour this wish, after he died, his daughter, Helen, organised an exhibition of his paintings at Chapter House, where many were sold, primarily to churches, along with copyright to encourage reproductions for fundraising.

Helen said: “We couldn’t display them all, the original paintings were unframed and there were so many of them. The turnout was amazing, people queued around two sets of cloisters. We had them all on a PowerPoint so they could all be shown. There were only three paintings that weren’t sold.”

Helen has often wondered where the paintings ended up and was delighted to hear of Ann Miller’s discovery.

“Our church secretary and I found the painting in the Vestry cupboard in February while having a clear out”, Ann said. “We don’t know for sure when we received it, but it was painted in 1993 and it was such a lovely item to find. We thought that, as the painting was beautiful and still in excellent condition, we should use the image for postcards to help raise funds for the church and then frame and display the painting itself.”

Along with the painting was a piece of paper with information about the painting, copyright rules and out of date contact details for Helen Sammon.

Ann eventually managed to track Helen down online for a conversation. Helen has now released the copyright, so Ann has taken the painting to a printers in Cirencester to make postcards, and it will be framed and displayed in St Bartholomew’s Church afterwards.

“I have asked other churches in our benefice to look for more paintings by R.A. Brown, but nobody has got back to me so far. The paintings were sold 17 years ago, so it’s likely that people don’t know about them or haven’t seen them”, Ann explained.

Helen is now encouraging parishes to keep an eye out for his paintings, and to reuse them for fundraisers in respect of her father: “Apart from seeing a few of them around in people’s homes, or in a couple of vestries, there has been no direct contact about them since the exhibition. This was until Ann contacted me.

“If you have one of these paintings, please get them out and reproduced. They are all in the same size and style. I’d love them to be used and my father most definitely would.”

Alec Brown moved to Gloucester in the 1950s and became deeply involved with diocesan life. After retiring in 1984, he focused on his passion for painting, selling all his artworks for charity. Alec’s commitment to philanthropy earned him an MBE, with notable contributions to Gloucester Cathedral and the James Hopkins Trust.

Helen has digital copies of all the paintings – if you would like to receive one for your church to use for reproductions, send her an email at moc.l1721897052iamg@1721897052nomma1721897052s.nel1721897052eh1721897052.


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