In 1996 Roger Cucksey who was Curator of Newport Art Gallery in South Wales, saw a man and a woman wandering around the gallery searching for a painting called The ‘Mole Catcher’ by Stanley Lewis. Stanley had exhibited this painting at The Royal Academy Summer Show in 1937 and it was voted by the public the most popular painting in the exhibition. The two people who were wandering around Newport Art Gallery were Stanley’s son Christopher and his wife Mary, and Roger was astonished to hear that Stanley was alive and well and living happily with Min at their home in Kington in Herefordshire. Mary said to Roger, ‘Why don’t you visit Stanley and his wife Min, they will be very pleased to see you.’
Roger soon telephoned Stanley and was invited to their house in Kington and had a very warm reception from Min and Stanley. Roger was shown into a damp and unheated barn outside the house and was amazed to see several large mural paintings in oil, hanging on the walls and in a sad state of deterioration.The mural painting that set his heart beating fast was ‘The Home Front’. He recognised immediately that they all needed urgent treatment to restore them, but it was the historic ‘The Home Front’ mural painting hanging forlornly on the barn wall which sent his blood racing, and the sadness that such an important Welsh painting depicting Newport in the second World war was hidden away and deteriorating in a Herefordshire barn. Previously, Stanley’s daughter Jennifer and son-in-law Beverley,had seen several of the rolled up and discarded murals lying on the floor in a damp corner of the barn, and to save them from the weather and being walked and trampled on, Beverley had nailed them onto the tall walls to preserve them.
Roger realised immediately the importance of preserving and restoring the mural paintings, especially the unfinished painting of The Home Front, as it had been commissioned by Newport Council during the 2nd World War. Stanley could not believe Roger’s excitement at the discovery of ‘The Home Front’, and went rooting around for related Home Front drawings and sketches. Roger said that he would move heaven and earth to restore them and exhibit them in Newport Art Gallery, and a great deal of discussion took place which resulted in Stanley and Min giving them to Newport Art Gallery to preserve them for posterity. They were given into Roger’s care who then collected the painting and the related drawings and took them safely back to Newport Art Gallery and set about convincing the authorities to restore the works.