In the end

It is not often that people should think of their gravestones, but I did today, and in my ponderings I ended up contemplating many of the interesting ones, so here are a selection of artist headstones, many of the with beautiful typography, or I have singled out because, as in the case of Rothko, they are naff. The one above, of Alfred Wallis was designed by Bernard Leach. The one below is the Grave of Michael Arton with a bronze labyrinth on it.


John Piper in the East

There are many examples of the works of John Piper in the East of England. The works are not just paintings and prints, but also his stained glass commissions in various churches and university college chapels. Towards the end of his life he made a large suite of lithographs of he churches of the area.

Working on the Shell guides as a photographer and writer must have helped his understanding of historic features in the region and his photographs help fill up the volumes for Suffolk and Norfolk, though his photographs are more technical aid memoirs than artistic shots. I get the feeling he went out in his car and tried to catalogue as many interesting churches as he could.


 John Piper – Three Suffolk Towers, 1958 (Laxfield, Walberswick and Stoke-by-Nayland)


 John Piper – Gedney, Lincolnshire: a Tower in the Fens, 1964


 John Piper – Corton Church, Suffolk, 1971


 John Piper – Wymondham, Norfolk, 1971


 John Piper – Framlingham Castle, 1971


 John Piper – Stody Church, Norfolk, 1973


 John Piper – Buckden in a Storm, 1977


 John Piper – Holkham, Norfolk, 1976

Holkham Hall in Norfolk is the home of the Earls of Leicester and is a ‘Palladian’ mansion, built in the style of Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508–1580), popular in Britain during the mid-seventeenth century to early eighteenth century. Piper had a keen interest in Georgian architecture, and with John Betjeman championed the rights of Georgian and Victorian buildings to be considered on their merits alongside older buildings. He painted a number of great houses of this era, and this print of Holkham’s gate is a good example of the romantic atmosphere with which he imbues such subjects.


 John Piper – Redenhall, Norfolk: the Tower, 1964


 John Piper – Binham Priory, Norfolk


 John Piper – Little Cressingham, Norfolk, 1983


 John Piper – Covehithe Church, 1983

Horham is one of the best John Piper prints in my view due to the layers of textures and that amazing colourful house to the side.


 John Piper – Horham, Suffolk, 1975


John Piper – Walsoken, Norfolk, 1985


 John Piper – Hautbois Church, Norfolk, 1983


 John Piper – Babingley Church, Norfolk, 1983

The church in Babraham is hidden down a lane off the side of the village close to the old Hall house. The church features a window designed by John Piper and made by Patrick Reyntiens (below).

The new east window was designed by John Piper. A 17th-century sculpture by John Bushnell is of two figures with carved drapery.


 John Piper – Babraham Church Window, 1966

When it comes to Aldeburgh church, it stands just above the town and contains a memorial to George Crabbe and a beautiful stained-glass window by John Piper as a memorial to his friend Benjamin Britten, depicting three parables.


John Piper – Benjamin Britten Memorial Window, Aldeburgh Church, 1980


I don’t know why I’d never thought of Tate and Lyle sugar, and the Tate gallery as being of the same origin. The Tate Gallery was founded by Henry Tate, the sugar merchant. Born in White Coppice, a hamlet near Chorley, Lancashire, he was the son of a Unitarian clergyman, When he was 13, he became a grocer’s apprentice in Liverpool. After a seven-year apprenticeship, he was able to set up his own shop. His business was successful, and grew to a chain of six stores by the time he was 35.
In 1859 Tate became a partner in John Wright & Co. sugar refinery, selling his grocery business in 1861. By 1869, he had gained complete control of the company, and renamed it as Henry Tate & Sons.

Thomas Benjamin Kennington – Orphans, 1885

In 1872, he purchased the patent from German Eugen Langen for making sugar cubes, and in the same year built a new refinery in Liverpool. In 1877 he opened a refinery at Silvertown, London, which remains in production. He built the Tate Institute opposite his Thames Refinery, with a bar and dance hall for the workers’ recreation.

Elizabeth Butler – The Remnants of an Army, 1879

Tate rapidly became a millionaire and donated generously to charity. Tate lived at the lavish Park Hill by Streatham Common, South London. Originally built by William Leaf and designed by John Buonarotti Papworth, the large house was the original home of Henry Tate’s work of contemporary paintings.

Park Hill, Streatham Common

In 1889 Tate donated his collection of sixty-five contemporary paintings to the government, on the condition that they be displayed in a suitable gallery, toward the construction of which he also donated £80,000. The National Gallery of British Art, nowadays known as Tate Britain, was opened on 21 July 1897, on the site of the old Millbank Prison.
Tate made many donations, often anonymously and always discreetly. He supported “alternative” and non-establishment causes. There was £10,000 for the library of Manchester College, founded in Manchester in 1786 as a dissenting academy to provide religious nonconformists with higher education.

John William Waterhouse – The Lady of Shalott, 1888

He also gave the College (which had retained its name during moves to York, London and finally Oxford), £5,000 to promote the ‘theory and art of preaching’. In addition he gave £20,000 to the (homoeopathic) Hahnemann Hospital in Liverpool in 1885. He particularly supported health and education with his money, giving £42,500 for Liverpool University, £3,500 for Bedford College for Women, and £5,000 for building a free library in Streatham. Additional provisions were made for libraries in Balham, South Lambeth, and Brixton. He also gave £8,000 to the Liverpool Royal Infirmary, and £5,000 to the Queen Victoria Jubilee Institute, which became the Queen’s Institute for District Nurses.

Tate was made a baronet on 27 June 1898. He had refused this title more than once until – after he had spent £150,000 to build the Millbank Gallery, endowed it with his personal collection, and presented it to the nation, he was told the Royal Family would be offended if he refused again.

John Everett Millais – Ophelia, 1851-2

He is buried in nearby West Norwood Cemetery, the gates of which are opposite a public library that he endowed. In 1921, after Tate’s death, Henry Tate & Sons merged with Abram Lyle & Sons to form Tate & Lyle.

Park Hill, Streatham Common, A mews of houses replacing the hothouses.

Fred Mizen

Fred Mizen was born in an Essex village, Great Samford in 1893. Little is known of his early life but it is known that he worked the various farms around the area of Great Bardfield, where he lived and died. It is said that he had been making corn dollies and other straw works since his childhood, where he had seen them made in the fields by other farm workers.

It is known that he served his country in World War One where he lost his left eye and a finger from his left hand. On his return he went gardening for people in the village and surrounding area, no doubt unable to continue with the rigours of farm labouring.

He continued making and selling his works during this time. Personal recollections from a number of people attest to this. In the 1940s, a Muriel Rose (The Little Gallery) was to have another corn dolly maker, a Sid Boatman, make a corn dolly to send to New Zealand for an exhibition of English rural crafts. When Fred heard of this, he took the sheaf of wheat and the next day the dolly was done, Muriel getting a lesson in the craft in the process.

Mizen’s work was also featured and promoted by proxy, in Life in an English Village, 1949, the King Penguin Book illustrated by Edward Bawden, where Mizens corn dollies where shown together in a black and white illustration and also referenced by Thomas Hennell in country crafts.

Edward Bawden – Corn Dollies from Life in an English Village, 1949

Mizen was also depicted in one of the illustrations from Life in an English Village with Aldridge in the Crown Pub, above him is the Corn dolly bell he made that is also illustrated above too.

John Aldridge, Sergeant Baker, the Landlord and Fred Mizen from Life in an English Village, 1949

The pieces that really brought him to the public eye were the Lion and Unicorn for the Pavilion of the same name at the South Bank site for the Festival of Britain 1951. The commision came in during 1950 and part of the publicity machine for the Festival of Britain, Pathe News made a film of his corn dollie work.

These magnificent beasts Mizen created stood seven feet tall. At the time Fred was gardening for John Aldridge, an artist in Great Bardfield. How the Lion and Unicorn came about is a little unclear, but it is highly likely that Aldridge and Edward Bawden were involved, both artists with many guests whom had his work in their homes.

Fred Mizen’s corn-dolly lion and unicorn, in R.D. Russell’s and Robert Goodden’s Lion and Unicorn Pavilion at the Festival of Britain.

The Lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown,
The lion beat the Unicorn all around the town.
Some gave them white bread, and some gave them brown,
Some gave them plum cake and sent them out of town.

They took six months to build and were varnished on completion. After the Festival had closed the Lion and Unicorn were sold to Selfridges in Oxford Street where they were displayed in the shop window before being put in the basement where mice ate them.

The publicity that resulted from the Festival led to something of a revival in interest in Straw plaiting, and a Bond Street retailer asked Fred to make some corn dollies for their Christmas stock. He worked hard and delivered his stock by hand. On being told that a cheque would be sent in due course, he took up the dollies and went into the street, selling them all to shoppers going about their Christmas shopping within half an hour.

Mizen also made a Barley Queen and the Malting Maid, commissioned by Lord Gretton, for the Brewers Society and after were used at Agricultural shows. It is likely John Aldridge painted their faces.

John Aldridge and Fred Mizen – Barley Queen and the Malting Maid

Some of his works can be seen in the Museum of Rural Life in Berkshire. These include an anchor, some 42 inches high, horseshoes, pitch forks, scythes and fire irons. The farm implements are life size.

Fred Mizen continued making straw works until his death on 19th October 1961. His legacy is the renewed interest in the craft and since then, many people have taken to teaching and writing about it.

Pictures for Sale

I have 66 Paintings for sale in Cambs Antiques Centre, Cambridge. If you can’t make it into the shop, I made the video and the website for you.

Here is the stock:

Video: Marilyn Monroe – Life after death

Olga Lehmann

Photo of Lehmann painting a mural at the Wardens’ Club, St Pancras ARP headquarters in London, 21st August 1940.

Born in Catemu, Chile, to a father of German and French descent (born in Paris) and a Scottish mother, Olga Lehmann was educated at Santiago College, Santiago, and in 1929 moved to England, where she was awarded a scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art, London University.

 Olga Lehmann – Figure Painting, Slade School First Prize (Equal), 1931

At the Slade she studied fine art under the tutelage of Henry Tonks and Randolph Schwabe, specializing in theatrical design under Vladimir Polunin and in portraiture under Allan Gwynne-Jones. Awarded prizes in life painting, composition, and theatrical design, she visited Spain in the early thirties; Spanish and Moorish themes were subsequently reflected in her art.

Her productive working life as an artist spanned almost six decades, from the 1930s to the 1980s. Throughout the 1930s she acquired a reputation in the fields of mural painting and portraiture.

She exhibited her work at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 1933, and with the London Group in 1935. Later sitters of note consisted of people associated with the film or record industries such as singers Edric Connor, Carmen Prietto, conductor Richard Austin, and actors Dirk Bogarde and Patrice Wymore. During the Blitz in 1940, her studio-flat in Hampstead was destroyed by a bomb, and much of her early work was lost. She worked as an artist throughout the war, painting murals in canteens and offices.

Olga Lehmann – Mural design for the Canteen in the Censorship Division.

After World War II, her name chiefly became associated with graphic design for the Radio Times, and designing for the film and television industries. She was nominated for several Emmys for her costume designs.

Olga Lehmann – Design for Ivanhoe, 1981

1977: Lehmann received an Emmy nomination for outstanding costume design on The Man in the Iron Mask.
1978: Lehmann received an Emmy nomination for outstanding costume design on The Four Feathers.
1981: Lehmann received an Emmy nomination for outstanding costume design on A Tale of Two Cities. Lehmann designed costumes for Rosemont’s television films Ivanhoe and Witness for the Prosecution.
1984: Lehmann received an Emmy nomination for outstanding costume design on The Master of Ballantrae.

She also worked as an illustrator of many record covers including the famous BBC recording of Under Milk-Wood by Dylan Thomas. Her stage and set designs are some of her most collectable paintings.

Olga Lehmann – Cover for Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

In 1939 she married author and editor Edward Richard Carl Huson, by whom she had one son, author and television writer and producer Paul Huson. She was predeceased by her husband in 1984, and she moved to Saffron Walden into one of the ‘Artisans Dwellings’, a row of houses designed for artists and weavers of the town. Because of her history and that she lived for some time in Saffron Walden, Lehmann’s work can be found in the Fry Art Gallery.

Video: Keith Vaughan at Pagham Beach

Bridge End Garden

Here are some recent photographs of Bridge End Gardens that are just behind the Fry Art Gallery.