Cecil Buller

Cecil Buller (1886–1973) was a Canadian artist most notable for her wood engravings.

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She was born in Montreal and travelled north America, and at 16 years old travelled Europe, mostly England and France. In 1910 She moved to New York where she attended the Art Students League in New York where her wood engravings started to get noticed. Then in 1912 she travels to Paris again where she would have been exposed to Cubists movment that had gained momentum at that time, this inspired the form of her woodcuts in the 1920’s.
She moved to London in 1916 to focus on graphic arts where she was educated under Noel Rooke, at the Central School of Art and Design. It was there that she met John Murphy, they married in 1917 and as an American he was able to move his new wife with him to Greenwich Village, New York in 1918.

Cecil Buller:

She gained success in the 20’s and 30’s for her wood engravings and were exhibited. In 1924 her only son was born, in 1930 an essay on her work was published in The Print Collector’s Quarterly. In 1937 she separates from her husband. From then on she travelled widely to Egypt, Iran, Greese, Afghanistan, and back and forth to London and Paris. In 1973 she died of a stroke.

She was awarded the Pennel Prize, Library of Congress, D.C. (1945), the Audubon Society Award (1947 and 1953) and the National Academy of Design Graphic Art Award (1949).

Great Bardfield Artists

The Great Bardfield Artists were a community of artists who lived in Great Bardfield, a village in north west Essex, England, during the middle years of the 20th century. The village’s “open house” exhibitions attracted national press attention and thousands visited the remote village to view art in the artists’ own homes during the summer exhibitions of 1954, 1955 and 1958.

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The principal artists who lived there between 1930 and 1970 were John Aldridge RA, Edward Bawden, George Chapman, Stanley Clifford-Smith, Audrey Cruddas, Walter Hoyle, Eric Ravilious, Sheila Robinson, Michael Rothenstein, Kenneth Rowntree and Marianne Straub.

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 Edward Bawden CBE RA (1903–1989)

Other artists associated with the group include Duffy Ayers, John Bolam, Bernard Cheese, Tirzah Garwood, Joan Glass, David Low and Laurence Scarfe. Great Bardfield Artists were diverse in style but shared a love for figurative art, making the group distinct from the better known St Ives School of artists in St Ives, Cornwall, who, after the war, were chiefly dominated by abstractionists. Below are pictures from the 1957 exhibition catalogue.

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 John Aldridge RA (26 July 1905–3 May 1983)

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 Walter Hoyle (1922–2000)

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Some posts from my instagram account.

Crime in the Art Room

In 1998, woodcuts started to appear on ebay by Earl Mack Washington (1862–1952). For some time there was a lot of mystery about Washington, but the accepted view, now is that he was invented by Earl Marshawn Washington, whom he claimed was his great grandfather. Below is the original faked biography.

Earl M. Washington (1862–1952):

Earl M. Washington (1862–1952) was an African-American master wood-engraver and printer who between the early 1900s and the time of his death had amassed and printed from one of the largest collections of artists’ wood blocks in the United States. Washington’s career began at the age of 13, when he was apprenticed at a Southern printing shop. In 1880 Washington moved to New York, but encountered racial and social prejudice which barred him from employment at the larger printing shops in the city. Eventually finding a position in a small shop on the Lower East Side, Washington went on to perfect his skills as a master printer.

Washington’s collection of wood blocks began accidentally, with blocks collected from the fire-ravaged print shop of a fellow-carver and friend. As he continued his printing work, Washington’s circle of acquaintanceship widened, and he began to receive blocks from many different artists and publishers. These included the work of Hale Woodruff, (1900–1980) whom Washington met and befriended; Eric Gill, Lynd Ward, Rockwell Kent, M. C. Escher, Robert Gibbings, and others. Washington printed impressions for each of the wood engraved blocks in his collection, and in some instances, he used the designs of other artists to create new engraved blocks.

Earl M. Washington (1862–1952):

The woodblocks produced by Earl Marshawn Washington (born 1962) are now all viewed to be fakes of the masters mentioned above. It was estimated by September 2004 that as many as 60,000 prints had been sold, at prices ranging from $20 to a $350 and Washington himself has since admitted to “creating over 1700 wood engravings” with a team of assistants who he trained to cut woodblocks.

Earl M. Washington (1862–1952):

Many of the fakes where printed on old paper that, for a while, abated suspicion. Washington even tried to train his ex-girlfriend (who signed a statement against him) Terra Zavala to cut woodblocks. She also wrote that Earl admitted that he doesn’t even have a great-grandfather named Earl M. Washington.

With so many copies coming onto the market The M.C. Escher Co. found that Washington was forging the work of M. C. Escher and pressed eBay into promising that it would forbid listing of these. They filed a complaint of criminal fraud in California, as prints were being handled there by stripper Stacy Ortiz (who would later become Washington’s wife). 

A criminal complaint was filed in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, by the owners of Prairie Home Antiques, who had purchased 82 prints from Washington for $1,640 on 17 June 2004.

Now many of the prints can be bought online for £5-£10. If you buy knowing they are fakes inspired by famous printers you can acquire some beautiful and talented work. But it is unlikely to return any value, other than the novelty of a good tale.

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The Unwelcome Guest: Hans Christian Andersen & Charles Dickens.

In June 1847, Andersen met Dickens at a party hosted by the Countess of Blessington. Both authors respected each others works and Andersen was a fan of Dickens, they both walked on the veranda of Gore House at the party. After this brief meeting they both exchanged letters for many years and planned to meet again.

Gad’s Hill

Ten years passed and Andersen visited Dickens on a trip to his house at Gad’s Hill, Kent. The trip was meant to be a short visit but much to the annoyance of the Dickens household, Andersen stayed for five weeks! Tensions where high in the Dickens house before Andersens visit as Dickens, 45, has started a relationship with Ellen Ternan, 18. A year later Dickens wife, Catherine, would leave him, taking one child and leaving the other nine children to the care of her sister Georgina.

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“He was a bony bore, and stayed on and on” was the daughter comment on Andersen’s long visit. To all accounts Andersen was a difficult guest, a selfish, aggressive and alternated between bouts of depression and suicide, while speaking in very poor English. They would go to London together to balls, plays and parties as well as spend the days together at Gad’s Hill.
Dickens stopped all correspondence between them after the disastrous stay, much to the great disappointment and confusion of Andersen, who had quite enjoyed the visit from accounts in letters to his friends, and never understood why his letters to Dickens went unanswered.

Inexpensive Progress

by John Betjeman

Encase your legs in nylons,
Bestride your hills with pylons
O age without a soul;
Away with gentle willows
And all the elmy billows
That through your valleys roll.

Let’s say goodbye to hedges
And roads with grassy edges
And winding country lanes;
Let all things travel faster
Where motor car is master
Till only Speed remains.

Destroy the ancient inn-signs
But strew the roads with tin signs
‘Keep Left,’ ‘M4,’ ‘Keep Out!’
Command, instruction, warning,
Repetitive adorning
The rockeried roundabout;

For every raw obscenity
Must have its small ‘amenity,’
Its patch of shaven green,
And hoardings look a wonder
In banks of floribunda
With floodlights in between.

Leave no old village standing
Which could provide a landing
For aeroplanes to roar,
But spare such cheap defacements
As huts with shattered casements
Unlived-in since the war.

Let no provincial High Street
Which might be your or my street
Look as it used to do,
But let the chain stores place here
Their miles of black glass facia
And traffic thunder through.

And if there is some scenery,
Some unpretentious greenery,
Surviving anywhere,
It does not need protecting
For soon we’ll be erecting
A Power Station there.

When all our roads are lighted
By concrete monsters sited
Like gallows overhead,
Bathed in the yellow vomit
Each monster belches from it,
We’ll know that we are dead.