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1948: Adrian Hill's Cuckfield inspiration

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

When I was growing up I used to enjoy the BBC children's TV programme about art presented by Adrian Hill in from 1955-1963 called 'Sketch Club'. Every week children would send their artwork in for him to feature and comment on.

He became an early recognisable TV celebrity. His books on painting and drawing were always a popular choice for Christmas presents in WH Smiths. Hill greatly inspired my own interest in art which has been important in my career as a communicator. I was delighted to recently come across an etching of a view of Cuckfield that the artist did in 1948.

A view of the Soith Downs from Cuckfield, an etching by Adrian Hill done in 1948

Adrian Keith Graham Hill (24 March 1895 – 1977) was a British artist, writer, art therapist, educator and broadcaster. Hill studied at St John's Wood School of Art, and exhibited at the Royal Academy and the

Adtian Hill on BBC TV's 'Sketch Club'

Paris Salon. He completed his studies at the Royal College of Art and painted professionally for a living. Latterly he lived in a cottage in Midhurst close to the Cowdray Park ruin.

Hill served with the Honourable Artillery Company during World War I and was the first artist commissioned by the Imperial War Museum to record the conflict on the Western Front.

Recovering from tuberculosis in a sanatorium, Hill discovered the therapeutic benefits of drawing and painting while convalescing and recommended it to his fellow patients to help them recover too.

He coined the term ‘art therapy' which is now widely recognised for its beneficial effects in assisting with recovery from mental and physical health conditions is widely recognised today but it was Hill who first documented the principles as early as 1942. In 1945 he published his ideas in his book ‘Art Versus Illness’.

He believed that when the patient's physical resistance was at its lowest engaging in art somehow tamed the ‘animal ego’ and enabled the creative powers of the ‘spiritual essence’ to come through.

The Cuckfield print is (now was?) on for £78 from The Witch Ball:

Wikipedia entry for Adrian Hill:

Adrian Hill features in this clip from ‘Down Your Way’ broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 1 February 1976. Brian Johnston visited Hill at his cottage in Midhurst. Sadly the sound quality is not that great.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.

Visit Cuckfield Museum, follow the link for details


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