Although WH Allen was brought up in London he spent the greater part of his adult life in area around the Hampshire/Surrey border. His travels in the area, and especially the visits he made to family and friends in Alton, meant that he was able to see at first hand the changes that were taking place in the English countryside.
Social changes, including the introduction of mechanised farming equipment but also an increasingly educated and aspirational workforce, led to a revolution in farming methods. Fewer young people were content to work on the land, preferring to move to the towns and cities where they were better paid. The First World War hastened this change as even those men who returned had seen and wished to be part of, a world outside that of rural England
These changes had a profound impact on the landscape and on the way of life of people living there. Old skills and crafts associated with farming and animal husbandry went into a rapid decline as tractors replaced horses and crops were planted and harvested by machines. The art of coppicing woodland went into decline as hurdles, brooms and hand made chairs were replaced by manufactured goods which were often cheaper but not as well made.
The exhibition will incorporate items from the Social and Agricultural History collection and include references to the Agricultural History displays at the Curtis Museum that made the museum unique in the south of England in the period between the wars.
It will however be predominantly an art exhibition featuring a selection of Allen’s paintings, chosen to show his passion for the trades, crafts and especially the landscape that he did so much to record.
The Allen Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10:30 to 16:30.