I have been delighted recently to have been involved in cataloguing and checking the Arnold Fellows Collection of paintings and drawings owned by the School. This may come as a surprise to many, as for about 20 years the collection has been stored awaiting the resolution of legalities of the bequest by Arnold Fellows, who was at Queen Mary’s Grammar School from 1911 to 1917 and worked here also as an Assistant Master from 1921 to 1924.
Part of the Collection was exhibited at the Walsall Public Library and Art Gallery from 11th to 30th January 1954 as a celebration of the bequest and of the 400th anniversary of the founding of the School. The then Director of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts at Birmingham University, Professor E K Waterhouse, who was one of the guests of honour, said at the opening that the fact that many schools, hundreds of years old, had no art collections was “a little alarming. I think that real works of art are just as precious to school life as are works of literature.” He considered that it was essential that young people should start to look at things early and a collection like that of Mr Fellows would be a great inducement to pupils at the School to appreciate pictures and drawings. Another fellow guest was Councillor Miss E M Flint, formerly the Head of Art at the School.
The collection contains all sorts of pictures, from pencil sketches to full oil on canvas paintings, some framed, some not. Arnold Fellows collected avidly over many years particularly enjoying watercolour, pen and wash and pencil drawings. There are works by Adam, Romney, Rowlandson, Morland, Glover, Turner, the Varleys, J. Sell Cotman, S. Prout, Cox, Peter de Wint and Richmond, representing the 1750 to 1850s, as well as more contemporary artists such as Sir George Clausen, Sir Frank Brangwyn, John Haggis, Felicity Evershed and David Muirhead. Many will recognise the name of Burne-Jones and the Turner is that one, J.M.W.!
Some of the works owned by Mr Fellows were exhibited publicly, for instance four were part of The British Council exhibition in 1935-6 which started in Bucharest, then moved to Vienna and Prague and finally ended up in the Empire Exhibition at Johannesburg.
I hope you enjoy a small selection of the pictures donated to the School by Old Marian and ex-teacher, Mr Arnold Fellows:-