The print and the studies used in this post are by John Aldridge for the Festival of Britain, 1951 lithographs distributed by the Artists’ International Association and Lyons Tea-houses. The series featured prints from Edwin La Dell, Keith Vaughan and Sheila Robinson. The artists all chose different views and ideas but Aldridge used views of Great Bardfield.
John Aldridge – Studies for the Great Bardfield Print, 1950
The process of the print is rather interesting, I like the study doodles for the print made out by Aldridge using different colourways and grids. Below is the final gouache he would have sent off to the prints to transcribe into a lithograph (note it is backwards). It looks like he was using a bit of the wax resist effect that Bawden was so keen on.
John Aldridge – Study for the Great Bardfield Print, 1950
The final print I think is a bit of a disappointment, the texture to the edges of the print have been lost and it’s a very scrappy looking thing with cut and pencil makings that have made it into the lithography. The yellow slashed edging would have been black ink that has been made into a negative with the photo-lithographic technique, it only works for the text areas. The painting above has more vigour – the lack of colour used means the absence of red, the buildings look faded and without blue the sky is apocalyptic like a John Martin painting.
John Aldridge – Great Bardfield, 1951
Using the painting as a guide I am showing how the village looks now compared to John Aldridge’s paintings in 1950 using Google street view.
John Aldridge – Pant Place, 1950
Named after the river Pant in Bardfield, the house today has had its door moved and replaced with a rosebush. The railings have also been lost as has the stylised garden for something simpler to deal with. There is a driveway now as the motorcar rules the roads today.
Pant Plant, Great Bardfield today.
John Aldridge – Crown Street, 1950
Crown Street has only changed with the prevalence of the dreadful curse of the UK, the UPVC Window. The shop has gone and now is a house front.
Crown Street today.
John Aldridge – Brook Street, 1950
Brook Street today too is so similar it might not look to have changed to a time traveller. The railings around the island in the centre of the village and War memorial have gone, maybe they should come back.
The house to the left of the picture is Buck House, home to Stanley Clifford-Smith, one of the most unusual Great Bardfield artists. Thanks to a Fry Art Gallery booklet by Olive Cook he was written out of Great Bardfield history and was considered less important than he was. It was a myth started in 1988 and perpetuated until quite recently with the writing of Under Moon Light by his son Silas Clifford Smith highlighting his role in the Great Bardfield exhibitions in Bardfield’s 1950s.
Brook Street today.
John Aldridge – Northampton House, 1950
The Gardens of Northampton House have been sold off to make an estate called ‘Northampton Meadow’ though it looked to be a rather lovely garden it makes me wonder – in an age without the television and with less transport were gardens the main entertainment and way to show off to your neighbours?
Northampton Meadow today, a 1990s estate.