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.


 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.


 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.


 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.


 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.


Essentially set up as a radically left political organisation, the AIA embraced all styles of art both modernist and traditional, but the core committee preferred 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.


 Beryl Sinclair – Lake District

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, Women’s 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, Amersham in Buckinghamshire. She died in 1967.

 Beryl Sinclair Studio Pottery Mark.

Chelmsford Chronicle: Friday 13 November 1942
Wikipedia AIA

AIA Everyman Prints

Artists International Association was an exhibiting society founded in London in 1933, which held exhibitions and events to promote and support various left-of centre political causes. Having come out of the First World War and then seeing the global effect of the Great Depression in 1929 many of these artists wanted to promote a better world. Though the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War erupted it was important to have a society where artists could still publicly protest war in a subtle way.


 Vanessa Bell – London Children in the Country, 1939

The principal founders of the A.I.A. were Misha Black, James Boswell, Clifford Rowe and Pearl Binder. The guiding ethos was to promote a radical response to political events in the world. A unity against Fascism, both home and abroad.

Its membership quickly grew throughout the 1930s and 1940s (930 members by 1945) so that in 1947 it was able to acquire permanent premises in Lisle Street. In the 50′s the political aims of the group were dropped after they broadcast support for an alliance between Britain and the Soviet Union. In 1953 it became an exhibiting society.

In the Second World War the A.I.A. started a series of prints but due to the economic climate of WW2 it wasn’t a vast success.

In 1942 it was reported to members that the scheme had run into production and retailing difficulties and with ultimately only about 5,000 prints sold, the royalities could not have been very remunerative. 

The print series ran from 1939 to 1942 and all the images in this post are taken from the series.


 Helen Binyon – The Flower Show, 1939 – Everyman Prints AIA


 James Boswell – Hunger marchers in Hyde Park, 1939 – Everyman Prints AIA


 Helen Binyon – Summer Holiday, Walton-on-Naze, 1939 – Everyman Prints AIA 


 Lowes Dalbiac Luard – The Rescue, 1939 – Everyman Prints AIA

List of Artists International Association print series – 1939 to 1942

  1. Mary Adshead – Sprint on Woodhouse Moor
  2. S R Badmin – A British Common & Down for a Refill
  3. Durac Barnett – Bread and Circuses
  4. Vanessa Bell – London Children in the Country
  5. Pearl Binder – Evacuation Scene, 1939
  6. Helen Binyon – The Flower Show
  7. Helen Binyon – Summer Holiday, Walton-on-Naze
  8. Helen Binyon – The Gate
  9. Stephen Bone – Village on coast
  10. Arthur Boyce – Upheaval
  11. James Boswell – Candidate for Glory
  12. James Boswell – Gitte Business
  13. James Boswell – Hunger Marchers in Hyde Park
  14. Herbert Budd – September, 1939
  15. Robert Butler – The Station
  16. David Caplan – Liverpool Station
  17. Raymond Coxon – Evacuated Children at a Yorkshire Village
  18. Moira Evans – August Bank Holiday
  19. Moira Evans – November 11th, 193 9
  20. Chris Fontaine – The Library
  21. Kathleen Gardiner – Market Day
  22. Phyllis Ginger – Chimps at the Zoo
  23. Rowland Hilder – Landscape
  24. James Holland – ‘Here They Come’
  25. James Holland – Country Town the Militia
  26. James Holland – News Reel
  27. Henry Holzer – Barrage Balloon
  28. Diana John – On the Beach
  29. Diana John – Evacuees, Bradford-on-Avon
  30. Helen Kapp – ‘My Marmaduke’
  31. Helen Kapp – A Queen’s Hall Prom
  32. Helen Kapp – English Rose
  33. Helen Kapp – Black-out; Listening to Beethoven
  34. L D Luard – The Rescue
  35. Peter Barker Mill – The Threat
  36. Mona Moore – Draught Players
  37. Theodore Naish – Underground
  38. Freda Nichols – Fun Fair
  39. Russel Reeve – Barrage Balloons ascending over Hampstead
  40. Geoffrey Rhoades – Blackout
  41. C H Rowe – Unemployment Assessment Board
  42. Kenneth Rowntree – Wartime Hoardings
  43. Maurice de Sausmarez – A Garden – God Wot
  44. Edward Scroggie – Street Market
  45. Beryl Sinclair – The Row
  46. Elizabeth Spurr – Washing Day
  47. Feliks Topolski – Drawing
  48. William Townsend – W E A Meeting
  49. Henry Trevick – The Fair
  50. Kathleen Walker – The Mother’s Union in War Time
  51. Carel Weight – Blockade
  52. John Piper – The Font and Tortoise Stove: Britwell Salome

Lynda Morris and Robert Radford – A.I.A. The Story of the Artists’ International Association, 1999. p58

Gt Bardfield Now & Then

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.