Edward Bawden – Life In An English Village Discovered

A video on the making, inspiration and production of the Noel Carrington and Edward Bawden’s book, Life In An English Village.

Edward Bawden – Life In An English Village Discovered

Lindsell Church

Lindsell is a village neighbouring Great Bardfield, Essex. The church is dedicated to St Mary The Virgin and dates back to Norman period with many alterations since. It was a church that Bawden would paint and print from different angles being in walking distance from his home at Brick House.

Although the styles are much the same the colour pallets are different. The linocut at the bottom of the page is very large and in life, has the texture and detail as this first watercolour.

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 Edward Bawden – Lindsell Church, 1956

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 Edward Bawden – Lindsell Church, 1956

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 Edward Bawden – Lindsell Church, 1958

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 Edward Bawden – Lindsell Church, 1961 

Beryl Maude Sinclair

Beryl Sinclair is one of those names that I love to find. Born in 1901, Beryl Bowker was the daughter of the Dr. G. E. Bowker, a Physician at the Bath Royal United Hospital. She lived with her mother and father in Combe Park, Bath. She studied at the Royal College of Art alongside Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious.

She was both a painter in oils and watercolours, as well as a potter.

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 Eric Ravilious – Morley College Mural – Life in a Boarding House, 1929

At the RCA she was known as Bowk. Ravilious painted her twice that we know, once into the Colwyn Bay Pier Murals by Ravilious in the kitchen with a plant and then again in one of the ‘lost’ Ravilious oil paintings – ‘Bowk at the sink’, 1929-30.

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 Eric Ravilious – Newhaven Harbour, 1935

She married Robert Sinclair, a London author and journalist, who wrote the Country Book on East London in 1950. The painting above by Ravilious was bought from the Zwemmer Gallery by Beryl Sinclair.

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 Beryl Sinclair – Regents Park, The Horseguards

They were living at 170 Gloucester Place, London. It might explain why many of her early paintings are of Regents Park as it’s less than 200 metres away.

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 Beryl Sinclair – Regents Park, Sussex Place

In 1939 she was part of the Artists International Association – Everyman’s Print series contributing two prints, The Row and Riding Procession. The AIA Everyman Prints exhibition was opened on 30 January by Sir Kenneth Clark.

In the early 1940s she was the Chairman of the Artists International Association.

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Essentially set up as a radically left political organisation, the AIA embraced all styles of art both modernist and traditional, but the core committee preferenced realism. Its later aim was to promote the “Unity of Artists for Peace, Democracy and Cultural Development”. It held a series of large group exhibitions on political and social themes beginning in 1935 with an exhibition entitled Artists Against Fascism and War.

The AIA supported the left-wing Republican side in the Spanish Civil War through exhibitions and other fund-raising activities. The Association was also involved in the settling of artists displaced by the Nazi regime in Germany. Many of those linked with the Association, such as Duncan Grant were also pacifists. Another of the AIA’s aims was to promote wider access to art through travelling exhibitions and public mural paintings.

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 Beryl Sinclair – Regents Park, Sussex Place

In late 1940s she was the Chair of the Woman’s International Art Club. The Women’s International Art Club, briefly known as the Paris International Art Club, was founded in Paris in 1900. The club was intended to “promote contacts between women artists of all nations and to arrange exhibitions of their work”, it provided a way for women to exhibit their art work. The membership of the club was international, and there were sections in France, Greece, Holland, Italy and the United States.

During WW2 she was part of a touring exhibition of art:

John Aldridge, Michael Rothenstein, John Armstrong, Kenneth Rowntree, Beryl Sinclair, and Geoffrey Rhoades. The paintings are touring Essex. They have already been to Maldon, Colchester, and Braintree.

She then joined the Council of Imperial Arts League in 1952 becoming the chairman in 1958.

During the war she was commissioned by Sir Kenneth Clark to execute paintings for the Civil Service canteen. She also contributed to the Cambridge Pictures for Schools scheme. She exhibited at the Royal Academy, New English Art Club, the London Group, Womans International Art Club, Artists International Association and shows at Leicester Galleries. Her work is in the collection of the Arts Council, The British Government, The Council for the Encouragement of Music and Art, Buckinghamshire County Museum

When married she moved to White Cottage, Grimsdell’s Lane, Amsersham in Buckinghamshire. She died in 1967.

 Beryl Sinclair Studio Pottery Mark.

Chelmsford Chronicle: Friday 13 November 1942
Wikipedia AIA

Coins

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Decimal Day in the United Kingdom was on 15 February 1971, the day on which each country decimalised its respective £sd currency of pounds, shillings, and pence.

The first decimal coins that appeared in the United Kingdom back in 1968 were a well-loved representation of British heritage at that time. 40 years later, in 2008, we wanted to update the coins with a fresh set of designs.

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The process began with a competition. The Royal Mint asked people to submit designs for the six coins that could stand alone or work as a set. We were looking for designs that would symbolise Britain, perhaps by using traditional heraldry, though designers were free to explore all options.

As well as inviting specially chosen artists and coin designers to submit designs, we also opened the competition out to the general public. People were invited to send in their designs for six coins: the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p pieces. The £1 was initially left out of the competition.

Here are Edward Bawden’s designs.

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Bawden in Ireland

I do enjoy looking at an artist in a narrow period of time or at one point in an artist’s life. With Bawden his holidays are wonderful examples of a fixed period of time. He normally took them with other artists, John Nash and Carol Weight.

Here we can see many views of Ireland by Bawden, as a contrast to some of the drawings and pictures he made of Portugal and other countries these are some of the most muted, colour wise. I am struggling to resist using the world gloomy. But there is a drama in the landscape that is very much Bawden with his painted lines of geology showing the drama of the hills.

The paintings formed two exhibitions, the first in November 1963 at the Zwemmer Gallery and a later exhibition at the Fine Art Society in November 1968.

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 Edward Bawden – Errigal, 1962

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 Edward Bawden – Quarry at Ballybofey Road, 1962

 Edward Bawden – The Vault at Glenties, Donegal, 1962

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 Edward Bawden – The Poisoned Glen, 1962

 Edward Bawden – The Muchish Mountain, 1962

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 Edward Bawden – The Bloody Foreland VI, Co. Donegal, 1965

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 Edward Bawden – Bloody Foreland VII, Co. Donegal, 1965

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 Edward Bawden – Horn Head IV, Co. Donegal, 1965

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 Edward Bawden – Ballyguin, 1965

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  Edward Bawden – Towards Aughrim, 1965 

Dunkirk in Art

In this post I look at the artworks of events at Dunkirk in 1940. Some would have been sketched or observed on the day, others were painted with eye-witness reports and photographs. Many were finished in a studio in the weeks and months after.

On 10 May 1940, Germany invaded France and the Low Countries, pushing the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), along with French and Belgian troops, back to the French port of Dunkirk. A huge rescue, Operation ‘Dynamo’, was organised by the Royal Navy to get the troops off the beaches and back to Britain. 

‘Dynamo’ began on 26 May. Strong defences were established around Dunkirk, and the Royal Air Force sent all available aircraft to protect the evacuation. Over 800 naval vessels of all shapes and sizes helped to transport troops across the English Channel. The last British troops were evacuated on 3 June, with French forces covering their escape. Churchill and his advisers had expected that it would be possible to rescue only 20,000 to 30,000 men, but in all 338,000 troops, a third of them French, were rescued. Ninety thousand remained to be taken prisoner and the BEF left behind the bulk of its tanks and heavy guns. All resistance in Dunkirk ended at 9.30am on 4 June.

When I saw the Richard Eurich picture below, the sea was so well painted it looked like glass. It was at an exhibition in the Queens House, Greenwich. It is a fantastic picture that viewed in a book or on the internet doesn’t comprehend. It was also used by the Navy as its Christmas card for 1940.

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 Richard Eurich – Withdrawal from Dunkirk, 1940

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 Charles Cundall – The Withdrawal from Dunkirk, 1940

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 John Spencer-Churchill – Dunkirk from the Bray Dunes, 1940

Below is a painting by Wilkinson who to my eye is the master of painting seascapes. He has a wonderful repertoire of boats and the lighting in this painting is a marvel. Though beautiful, it also shows the hellish chaos of the day.

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 Norman Wilkinson – The Little Ships at Dunkirk, 1940

The Little Ships at Dunkirk: June 1940, by Norman Wilkinson. The gently shelving beaches meant that large warships could only pick up soldiers from the town’s East Mole, a sea wall which extended into deep water, or send their boats on the beaches to collect them. To speed up the process, the British Admiralty appealed to the owners of small boats for help. These became known as the ‘little ships’.

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 Newspaper with the small announcement under ‘War Artists’.

On Thursday, 7th March, 1940, three days before his 37th birthday, it was announced in the British papers that Edward Bawden and Barnett Freeman were to become Official War Artists on behalf of the British War Office.

In the first days of April, Ardizzone (Edward) and Bawden took rooms for a while in the hotel Commerce in Arras, fussed over by a shared batman. They enjoyed the local wine and hospitality, before being billeted separately. Arras was dour, small and grey, It was also the GHQ for the British Army in France.

Arras in France is just over fifty miles away on a map, from April to May the retreat to Dunkirk was rapid and not an inspiring start for a war artist. In this short time Bawden said he was passed from regiments and groups rapidly as none of them wanted the alien burden of an artist to deal with, but being on the move a lot may have prepared his sketching style ready for Dunkirk where rapid copy was needed.

On his way to Dunkirk, Bawden has rolled up his paintings in a cylindrical tin which he clutched under his arm.

Approaching the port, he ditched all his equipment except his art materials (what would the Germans have done with them?) Marching into the town, they ran the gauntlet of ragged French soldiers jeering them. It discomforted him, as did the looters sweeping like locusts through abandoned houses.

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 Edward Bawden – Dunkirk: Embarkation of Wounded, May 1940

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 Edward Bawden – Dunkirk – The New World, 1940

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 Edward Bawden – Boys Serving Coffee, Dunkirk, 1940.

He reached the quayside in the company of a Canadian major, and they watched with dismay the frantic self-preservation of a group of British generals on the Dunkirk quayside, the swagger sticks pointing at likely boats bound for England. He turned to the major, with a wry smile. ‘Rats always go first’ he said.

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 Edward Bawden – Dunkirk – Embarkation of Wounded, 1940

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 Edward Bawden – The Quay at Dunkirk, 1940.

In the watercolour above, notice the fires along the jetty. The men in the foreground descending into a air-raid shelter and the bomb craters on the ground. The air raid shelter is likely to be the same one below, but in the chaos who could tell.

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 Edward Bawden – The Entrance to an Air Raid Shelter, Dunkirk, 1940

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 Edward Bawden – In an Air Raid Shelter, Dunkirk: Bombs are dropping, 1940

The Sketchbook War by Richard Knott, 2013 978-0752489230
Imperial War Museum – Dunkirk

The de Lank Quarry Cornwall

One of the nicer parts of my researches into the histories of Edward Bawden and John Nash is looking at the works they created on holiday together. As artists visiting a place together it seems they would look at a subject (the bridge at Ironbridge) and wonder around to get a perspective that pleased them both. Here with the Quarry I would imagine they had less opportunity to wander about, as it was then and is still now, a working Quarry. This has given a forced subject and view. I find it interesting how they both have translated it into a painting.

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On five occasions we shared a painting expedition in Wales, on the Gower Peninsula & again near Haverfordwest at Littlehaven; in Cornwall during a cold wet spell of misery in the De Lank Quarry at Blisland; at Dunwich in Suffolk & in Shropshire at Ironbridge. †

Located near Blisland, not far from Bodmin, the De Lank Granite Quarry was a particularly engaging subject for Bawden as, ‘unlike many granite quarries on or near the moors it is still being actively worked, & for that reason retains an interest that others have lost

The forced perspective of where it was safe to paint gives an interesting view to how both Nash and Bawden worked. I like mostly the blash pressure and fuel tank behind the workers hut on the crane.

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 Edward Bawden – The De Lank quarry no.2 , 1960

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 John Nash – The De Lank Quarry, Cornwall, 1960

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 John Nash – The De Lank Quarry at Blisland, Cornwall , 1960

The paintings below likely were made on the same trip, Sharp Tor was exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 1960 and The De Lank River, De Lank Quarry No 2 and The Engine House all exhibited in the 1961 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. The last two – likely worked upon in Bawden’s studio – are sad gloomy images.

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 Edward Bawden – Sharp Tor, Cornwall, 1960

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 Edward Bawden – The De Lank River, Cornwall, 1960

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 Edward Bawden – The Engine House, Cornwall, 1960

Edward Bawden to John Rothenstein, 24th April, 1979.
Letter from Edward Bawden, 12 July 1961

You are the Quarry

The painting series by Bawden named as ‘Pengwern’ is really in ‘Dyserth’ in Wales. The limestone quarry is in the hills above Dyserth in Denbighshire and it was closed in the 1980s.

Bawden’s paintings capture a curious geometry in the landscape with the sides of the quarry looking like large pieces of flint. Paintings two and three are the same view so are interesting to compare. At this time Bawden would start the paintings off with a drawing and then finish them in the hotel or at his Saffron Walden studio.

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Edward Bawden – Quarry at Pengwern I, Llanrwst, 1977

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Edward Bawden – Quarry at Pengwern II, Llanrwst, 1977

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Edward Bawden – Quarry at Pengwern III, Llanrwst, 1977

Life in an English Village: Discovered (A PDF Download)

Here is something I have been promising for some time, it is a booklet looking at the King Penguin book illustrated by Edward Bawden ‘Life in an English Village’.

Due to the volume of information and the way it needed to be referenced I have made it into a booklet for tablets and computers rather than one of my normal blog posts.

You can view and download it free as a PDF by following the this link. 

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Move to the country

I thought this was an interesting bit of Great Bardfield history, of what could have been. Below is a letter from Edward Bawden to the typographer and book designer John Lewis and what’s interesting is Bawden is suggesting a house for him to live in. 

There are two options, one is for them to have a long term rental of Town House in Great Bardfield (around four houses from Brick House) and then a beautiful house called Arundels in Bardfield Saling.

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 Arundels, Bardfield Saling.

What is rather lovely is Bawden has drawn out a map in the letter and is honest about how much work it will need to repair it. 

The curious thing about his letter is that it comes at a time when Edward was encouraging people like Walter Hoyle and other Royal College of Art staff to move to Great Bardfield. It is letters like this that show how Bawden was trying to cement an artistic community in Essex. In the end Lewis moved to Meadow Cottage, Great Bealings, Woodbridge, Suffolk, England, to be near W S Cowell Ltd, Ipswich, where he was a printer.

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 Edward Bawden – Letter to John Lewis, c1947.