The Sewell sword
SIR: I enjoyed reading about Brian Sewell in your March issue (Memorial Service). The famous and pretentious obviously had much to fear from his pen and his tongue. Although I am not famous, I can claim the honour of having been attacked in print by Mr Sewell. It came to his notice that a Victorian picture, of rustics in an inn tormenting a monkey in a jug, had been removed from the walls of the Cooper Art Gallery in Barnsley. The reason was to send it for conservation, but a conspiracy theory had arisen suggesting that its removal was for reasons of political correctness. Mr Sewell rode into the attack by calling on the citizens of Barnsley to rise up in their thousands and to throw out the trustees of the Cooper Art Gallery (for political correctness). Fortunately for me, as chairman of the trustees, the citizens of Barnsley remained largely unmoved by his call. In any event, not only did the gallery survive the Sewell attack but, with the help of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, it is now being doubled in size so that many more pictures from our wonderful collection can be seen by the citizens of Barnsley and elsewhere. The gallery will re-open in June this year, still with free admission, so come and have a look.
Paul Elmhirst, Stillingfleet, York.