This exhibition showcases one of Britain's most popular cartoonists, featuring Thelwell's plump ponies, local landscapes, and social satire.
This exhibition takes a close look at Thelwell’s artistic life, from the popular cartoons which gave him international fame, to his watercolours depicting the English countryside, particularly the landscape of south Hampshire near Mottisfont – painted purely for pleasure. Both sets of work reveal a deep-seated love of the environment and a desire to protect it.
First created for Punch in the early 1950s and published extensively since, Thelwell’s pony cartoons are still easily recognisable today. Thelwell drew the endearing characters Penelope and Kipper in hundreds of humorous scenarios, from ungainly jumps to the destruction of country fairs.
Exhibited alongside the well known cartoons is a selection of Thelwell’s paintings, in which his extraordinary talent – and love of the local area – is clear to see. In contrast to the cartoons, which was how he earned a living, these paintings were a way of relaxing and enjoying his surroundings. Works on show include Thelwell’s paintings of Mottisfont, Romsey Abbey, the River Test at Timsbury and other local landscapes.
Thelwell’s passion for nature is evident in his satirical cartoons, many of which parody modern living and pressures on the environment. He used satire to convey serious messages about the need to preserve the natural world, touching on the EU, farming methods and other environmental issues; many of these still have poignancy today.