At the end of April 2014, I drove to Ditchling, a small Sussex village about 8 miles north-west of Lewes. I went because the local museum, the Ditchling Museum of Art+Craft (as it now styles itself), was being publicised as a contender for the accolade of ArtFund Museum of the Year. (The winner will be announced in July.)

The museum is a redevelopment of the previous Ditchling Museum, which had opened in 1985. Local people gathered funding and found an architect, Adam Richards, who shared their feeling for the place and for the artists it celebrates.

Those artists and craftsmen had come to Ditchling in the early 20th century, setting up a modern, Roman Catholic equivalent of a mediaeval trade guild, called The Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic. Its founder members included the carver and font maker, Eric Gill, and Edward Johnston, who designed the typography of the London Underground.

I went in a state of almost complete ignorance of the community and of the focus of the museum. I was impressed with what I found. The museum has a clear layout, carefully chosen and well-displayed exhibits, helpful staff and a relaxed atmosphere. Interior spaces were beautifully lit and the whole had a unity and clarity of style that one seldom finds.

There is a lack of a good explanatory Web site, the present one being under construction. You can get more detail from its predecessor, although that contains few details of the new buildings. (You'll need to stop it switching to the new site, which is unhelpful while the new one is still far from complete.)

There are some other shortcomings but they mostly reflect the newness of the institution. I came away feeling enlightened and uplifted.

[March 2016 update: The museum's Web site is now much improved. The old site has been replaced by one (in German) about an old touring car.]

The photographs

I took all* the pictures with a Fujichrome XE-2 fitted with the Fujinon XF 10-24 mm zoom lens and supported on a monopod. That morning I had updated the camera's firmware to version 2.0, which allowed me to use the "Fn" (function) button to switch quickly between the LCD at the back and the electronic viewfinder. This was a welcome and overdue improvement.

*Except the scan of the postcard, of course.

All the pictures were taken in available light, with no flash, using autofocus and auto-exposure. Processing of the resulting Raw files was through Phase One's Capture One Plus followed by Nikon Capture NX2 (with Nik's Color Efex Pro filters in most cases).

There are details about each photo in the captions. (Click on each to see these.) You can see the EXIF data for all my pictures.

Roger Whitehead
11 May 2014