This is a small post, based on a little business card for the A.I.A. Gallery just because I liked it. It is designed by Edward Bawden. I have posted some text from the book on the A.I.A Gallery below. It sums up the organisation far better than I could.
The A.I.A was also known as the Artists’ International Association
An exhibiting society formed in 1932 by a number of left-wings artists and writers who wanted to publicise, through their art, their commitment and resistance to the ‘Imperialist war on the Soviet Union, Fascism and colonial oppression’. Its aim was the ‘Unity of Artists for Peace, Democracy and Cultural Development’. The Association originally termed ‘Artists International’ provided a forum for regular discussions on communism, and its membership included Clifford Rowe, brothers Ronald and Percy Horton, Peggy Angus, Pearl Binder, James Boswell, Edward Ardizzone, Hans Feibusch and Misha Black the first Chairman. Most of the group’s early exhibitions were held at galleries in the Soho area of London, such as Charlotte Street, Frith Street and Soho Square. Its inaugural exhibition was entitled ‘The Social Scene’. In 1935 ‘Association’ was added to its title. A subsequent exhibition in that year called ‘Artists Against Fascism and War’ included works by Robert Medley, Paul Nash and Henry Moore.
The AIA supported the left-wing Republican side in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) through exhibitions and other fund-raising activities. It attempted to promote wider access to art through travelling exhibitions and publicly available mural paintings. In 1940 it published a series of lithographs known as Everyman Prints in large and consequently low-priced editions. By the end of World War II, membership numbered over a thousand and in 1947 a gallery, founded by Claude Rogers was established at 15 Lisle Street, Soho, London which flourished until the lease expired in 1971. Initially it pursued an obvious Marxist programme, with its affiliates producing satirical illustrations for the magazine Left Review but by 1951 the Association was showing non-figurative work and in 1953 a new constitution abandoned its left-wing commitment and it continued solely as an exhibiting society. Distinguished foreign artists occasionally exhibited work at the later exhibitions: these included Fernand Léger and Picasso.
The Artists’ International Association should not be confused with the International Artists’ Association which was established in 1952 and was an affiliated organization of Unesco.
It tried to promote wider access to art through travelling exhibitions and public mural paintings. In 1940 it published a series of art lithographs titled Everyman Prints in large, and therefore cheap, editions.
A.I.A.: Story of the Artists’ International Association, 1933-53 by Lynda Morris and Robert Radford, 1983
Erik Harrower Forrest – Trees, 1956, In My Collection
In the past few weeks I bought two wonderful paintings by Erik H Forrest but I couldn’t find much information about him. I was buying them at auction and online as I lived too far to view them, so I was worried they may be mid-century inventions (sadly there are many paintings on the market that look old but have no age to them). But when my two paintings were delivered I found they had gallery labels. The paintings were marked as 1956 and 1957. In 1956 Forrest was listed as living in 36 Chapel Lane Leeds, in 1957 he was at 17 Richmond Road Leeds. From that date on I couldn’t find any other details on E H Forrest in the UK.
Erik Harrower Forrest – The Red Church, 1957, In my Collection
I then went to Google and found a monograph from 1985 he published ‘Harry Thubron at Leeds, and Views on the Value of his Ideas for Art Education Today’ in the Journal of Art & Design Education – Vol 4 No 2, 1985. This came with a biography that said he moved to America, from then I found a LinkedIn profile and his email.
From our emails I can report Erik Harrower Forrest, born in 1925, trained in Scotland at the Edinburgh College of Art under John Maxwell and Leonard Roseman. He started the Diploma in Art in 1941 but the war paused his studies and he had three years out flying in the Fleet Air Arm Squadron. He continued his work in 1945 with a specialisation in Drawing and Painting. He went on to the University of Edinburgh and at this time he admired the works of John Piper, Eric Ravilious, Paul Nash and John Minton.
Forrest taught painting and lithography at Leeds College of Art in the late 1950s and later became the deputy head of the School of Art Education at Birmingham Polytechnic.
My first job at the Leeds College was in Art and Design because I was in their Design department and I taught Illustration as well as drawing and painting. About half way through my time there I moved to the Art Education department. I had found that I had almost as strong an interest in art education, especially at the Tertiary level, as in painting and drawing. I had also been teaching Lithography, so I was wandering away from the life of a ‘professional’ painter already.
He was commissioned to made a painting of Temple Newsam for the gallery booklet in 1951
Temple Newsam House Gallery Booklet with cover painting by E.H.M, 1951
In the late 1960s he took the first year of a two-year degree in Philosophy at the University of Warwick, and left for the USA before he could complete it.
That was in 1968. The doctorate I did between 1980 and 1983, finishing the dissertation when I was 58 years old.
He has had one man shows of paintings, prints, and drawings in Britain, Canada, and USA, and articles by him have been published in British and American journals. His works are in the collections of Wakefield City Art Gallery, Nottingham City Gallery, the Scottish National Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. He also exhibited at the Wakefield, Twenty Artists Exhibition.
Erik Harrower Forrest – Interior, 1950
In America he was the Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in 1969 and in 1977 became the Art Professor at Ohio University and is now retired in San Diego.
Edward Bawden – Lithograph for Travellers’ Verse, 1946.
This post is the story of Edward Bawden’s war work in the War Artists Advisory Committee (WAAC) as an artist and how he used the wartime drawings and paintings in illustration work, like the The Puffin Picture Book ‘The Arabs’ but other post-war commissions.
Edward Bawden – Shaikh Sharif al-Hafi, 1944.
When the Second World War broke out in 1939, Edward Bawden had already established a reputation as an illustrator, a comic draughtsman, a designer of typographical ornaments and patterns, a print-maker and a painter of landscapes in water-colour.
Bawden was appointed one of the first Official War Artists and was sent to join the British Army in France with Barnett Freedman and Edward Ardizzone. After being evacuated via Dunkirk, he was sent to the Middle East where he spent two years painting and drawing in Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. During his return journey to England, his ship was torpedoed; he then spent two months in a French internment camp before being released, and arrived in England safely, only to return to the Middle East, journeying around Cairo, Baghdad, Jeddah, Teheran, Ur of the Chaldees; he was drawing all the time, finally ending his travels in Rome. †
Edward Bawden – Shaikh Raisan al-Gassid, 1944.
The WAAC recommended in December 1939 that Bawden should be appointed as an official Air Ministry artist. In May 1940, after his return from France with the withdrawal from Dunkirk. Bawden expressed his regret at having had to leave, and Dickey reported him to be “extremely anxious to be sent out again to another scene of activity”. He departed for the Middle East in July. ♦
After the war Bawden stayed in Cheltenham while repairs and work were made to his home, Brick House; It was the only building in Great Bardfield to suffer from bomb damage, but Bawden also used the opportunity to make alterations and build a studio to the back of the house. The house was used and abused by the Home Guard during the war.
John Aldridge – Builders at Work, Brick House, Great Bardfield, 1946.
Bawden’s time as a war artist had given him the advantage of travel but also an abundance of sketch books and work that were still fresh in his mind in 1945. So it was in November of that year that Noel Carrington, the head of Puffin Books at Penguin was writing to his Allen Lane, his boss about Bawden and the planned book ‘The Arabs’:
12th November 1945 I have arranged for Bawden to meet you here on Wednesday afternoon at three o’clock, so you can discuss the alternative approaches to The Arabs book with him. As an illustrator, one method will suit him as well as another. ♥
From this meeting payments were settled and Bawden took on the job of illustrating the book. The text for the book was by Robert Bertram Serjeant, Nicknamed ‘Bob’. Serjeant was a Scottish scholar, traveller, and one of the leading Arabists of his generation.
Edward Bawden – Front cover design for The Arabs, 1947.
Bawden to Carrington, 24 July 1946: “The book is getting on slowly – I work upon the lithographs for a few hours every day, but because of the fine detail I find the work rather a strain on the eyes. In all I have finished one-fifth of the drawings but these include some of the most elaborate ones such as the two double spreads.’ ♥
As you can see in the image below, Bawden recycled some of his paintings from the war and used them in the making of the book. The man to the right – on the boat is ‘Shaikh Sharif al-Hafi’, pictured at the top of this post.
Edward Bawden – Detail from ‘The Arabs’, p18, 1947.
Below I have edited both images side-by-side and you can see how the line drawing has been simplified for the lithographic process.
Although ‘The Arabs’ became a factual book rather than the ‘story’ title Carrington intended, it is one of the highlights of the series. Bawden’s lithographs are as good as any he completed and the two full double page spreads are superb examples of his mastery of line; Curwen made a good job of the printing. ♥
Edward Bawden – Detail from The Arabs, p30, 1947
The text of ‘The Arabs’ doesn’t shy away from the Crusades and they are also illustrated as in the image above and below. The historical detail also takes in the history of the Arabic nations, how important they were during the silk road trade routes and how they declined after the European travellers sailed by boat beyond the Cape of Good Hope to China and India.
Edward Bawden – Double page spread from The Arabs, p30-31, 1947
Again, below and side by side are both the lithographed policeman from ‘The Arabs’ and the portrait Bawden painted during his war service. It really demonstrates the cheerful nature of his line drawings. It also shows how he used paintings and sketches to make the book as accurate as it could be.
Edward Bawden – Baghdad: An Illustration of Iraqi Policemen’s Uniforms, 1943
Edward Bawden – Detail from ‘The Arabs’, p6, 1947
A Digital Edit of the book ‘The Arabs’ & Bawden’s War Portrait of the Policeman
The most beautiful of the two double-page illustrations is the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah, 636AD, when the Rashidun Caliphate overthrew the Sasanian Empire.
Edward Bawden – Double Page Spread from ‘The Arabs’ p26-27, 1947
The Sassanid Persian army, about 60,000 strong, fell into three main categories, infantry, heavy cavalry, and the Elephant corps. The Elephant corps was also known as the Indian corps, for the elephants were trained and brought from Persian provinces in India. The Arabic side is said to have been 36,000 strong, just over half, and yet they won.
Edward Bawden – Double Page Spread from ‘The Arabs’ p27, 1947
Interestingly the book was never reprinted, and indeed could have been withdrawn and pulped! On the last pages of The Arabs, Bawden had illustrated ‘Muhammad mounted on Buraq’ ascending to the Seventh Heaven’. Obviously no one Bawden, Carrington or Lane had realised the grave offence that the depiction of the Prophet would cause.
The Cairo branch of W.H. Smith, which had ordered 5,000 copies, wrote requesting: ‘would there be any way of painting out the rider’.
Complaints flooded in and the Commonwealth Relations Office wrote to Penguin: The Puffin Picture Book No 61, entitled The Arabs, has on the last page a pictorial representation of the Prophet Mohammed and there have been in the Pakistan Press various letters protesting against this illustration.
As you no doubt know, any representation of the Prophet gives grave offence to Muslim sentiment. Although from a non-Muslim point of view such representations may appear harmless, it is none the less true that Muslim objections to representation of the Prophet in any form are based on sincere conviction.
You will, I am sure, appreciate that in inviting your attention to this matter we do not wish in any way to appear to be interfering with editorial responsibility. But we felt it right to draw your attention to the ill effects which an otherwise excellent little book may have in the Muslim world. Perhaps you would be good enough to bear this in mind should a reprint be under consideration?
One can only imagine the colour of the air when Allen Lane realised that his flagship Puffin was fatally flawed. Understandably The Arabs was never reprinted. ♥
I must add that after mentioning I was writing this post to a friend, they convinced me not to include the image of Mohammed in the blog too. If you wish to see the image you will just have to order a copy of the book to find out at your own offence.
Edward Bawden – Detail from ‘The Arabs’, p15, 1947
The painting below is of Mohammed Bin Abdullah El Atshan, King Ibn Saud’s representative at Rumaliya. This painting is a copy made in 1966 of a painting from 1943 made at the request of a British Petroleum executive when Bawden was painting a mural at the British Petroleum restaurant. The wall of petrol cans were given the BP logo at the executive’s suggestion.
Edward Bawden – Mohammed Bin Abdullah El Atshan, 1966
What is more curious to me about the above retrospective painting is that parts of it turn up twice in the Puffin ‘Arabs’ book. The image below in colour has the hawk, coffee pots, the boy with water-pot and two men standing behind the wall. The black and white illustration below has the drawing of the sitter.
Edward Bawden – Detail from ‘The Arabs’, p7, 1947
Edward Bawden – Detail from ‘The Arabs’, p25, 1947
Throughout 1946 Bawden was working on the illustrations for ‘The Arabs’ book, but it wasn’t published until 1947. Also in 1946 Bawden would illustrate a collection of poetry chosen by Mary Gwyneth Lloyd Thomas in a book called ‘Travellers’ Verse’ and he would be able to re-encounter his work of the middle east with his illustrations. These projects started to merge as parts of illustrations from his War Time Sketchbooks would end up in both.
Edward Bawden – Detail from ‘The Arabs’, p12-13, 1947
Above is an illustration of a Market in Cairo from ‘The Arabs’ and below is an illustration of a market from ‘Travellers’ Verse’, albeit a more fantastical version. Because ‘The Arabs’ was to be accurate the illustrations are more or less from his war paintings, but the ‘Travellers’ Verse’ book he was able to have more fun with the illustrations and be more fanciful.
Edward Bawden – Detail from ‘Travellers’ Verse’, 1946
In the top right corner of the image above is the Mohammed Ali Mosque in Cairo in a simple line drawing from 1946. Below you can see it from one of Bawden’s paintings in 1941.
Edward Bawden – Cairo, the Citadel: Mohammed Ali Mosque, 1941
Bawden also illustrated the mosque, as below from the other side of the city
Edward Bawden – Detail from ‘The Arabs’, p23, 1947.
During his travels Bawden was able to stay in the centre of Cairo in the Citadel on his stay as he mentions:
Public relations could deal with journalists but they didn’t know how to deal with artists. They were puzzled and Major Asterly said ‘Why not go and stay in the citadel’, which I did and I found delightful. I made one or two drawings of the Mosque of Mohammed Ali. ♠
Edward Bawden – Cairo, the Citadel: On the Roof of the Officers’ Mess, 1941
In the ‘Travellers’ Verse’ illustrations we see the city life and a fantasy of life in the countryside, with Mosque towers and street cafes to the desert landscape and camp fires.
Edward Bawden – Detail from ‘Travellers’ Verse’, 1946
Edward Bawden – Detail from ‘Travellers’ Verse’, 1946
In fact Bawden would be able to use the war drawings of Greece and Rome for the other plates in the book. It seems that after Rome, Athens was a disappointment as Bawden mentions:
When I returned from Florence to Rome it was suggested that I go to Greece, so I went by air, it was the first time I had seen Greece I had been to Rome several times but I was very disappointing on the sight of Athens, it didn’t have the grandeur I was expecting. ♠
Edward Bawden – Detail from ‘Travellers’ Verse’, 1946
In ‘Travellers’ Verse’ the illustration of a huddled mass of bodies in a boat on a Paul Nash sea has none of the cheer the other images have. The poem being illustrated is ‘Don Juan and his tutor Pedrillo are shipwrecked.’ Bawden himself was shipwrecked during the war off the coast of West Africa on a ship from Cape Town to London. It is another translation of his wartime experiences.
Edward Bawden – Detail from ‘Travellers’ Verse’, 1946
The Laconia was nearing the Equator in temperatures of 110 degrees Fahrenheit when, at 8pm on the evening of 12th September, 1942, it was hit twice below water level by torpedoes from the German U-boat U156 under the command of Werner Hartenstein.
Bawden with typical sangfroid resigned himself to death by drowning: ‘so I thought I’d wander round a bit and have a look. I went down to my cabin – I’d bought my wife a watch and thought I might as well go down with the watch as not.’ Then, ‘on returning from my cabin I saw ropes hanging down on the side where life-boats had been lowered and standing by one of these I was joined by a major. ‘After you, Sir’ I said. As he descended there was a splash. Sliding down the next ropes I found myself being gripped and guided into a boat. A few minutes later all the boats pulled away to a safe distance and there we sat waiting, still and silent and tense for the sound of the ship’s final end. ‡
Edward Bawden – Rescued at sea by the French warship Gloire, 1943.
The survivors were rescued by a French ship who were unkind to them and then taken to an internment camp in Casablanca where they stayed for two and a half months until rescued, this time by the Americans, who were kind. As a British citizen he was shipped to Norfolk, Virginia, USA before being shipped back to London.
Edward Bawden – Illustration from Vathek, 1958.
Many years after the war Bawden illustrated Beckford’s ‘Vathek, an Arabian Tale’ for the Folio Society in 1958, I find these illustrations rather weak personally, I can’t work out if he wanted to change to a looser style of lithographic illustration or if they were dashed out for the money, while technically good with colour layering, the end result in my view is poor. I rather suspect the commission came in conjunction with a larger one – ‘The Histories of Herodotus of Halicarnassus’ for the Limited Editions Club, a company like the Folio Society, but American; For them Bawden provided over 100 illustrations in a two volume book set.
He would illustrate Johnson’s ‘Rasselas’ in 1975 for the Folio Society with happier outcomes compared to ‘Vathek’, though not totally Arabian, it is a fantasy of travel.
To conclude the various Arabic styles of Bawden we should end with the giant mural for BP’s restaurant at Britannic House. The best of Bawden’s murals, using Islamic designs and architectural drawings to bold outcomes, it uses blocks of colour and pattern design much like one of his linocuts.
Edward Bawden – Fantasy on Islamic Architecture (Left Panel), 1966
Edward Bawden – Fantasy on Islamic Architecture (Right Panel), 1966
A view of the Dining Room in Britannic House.
† Ruari McLean , Edward Bawden War Artist & His Letters, 1989 ‡ Malcolm Yorke – Edward Bawden and His Circle, 2015. ♠ 4622 Edward Bawden Audio Tape, IWM, 1980. ♣ R.B. Serjeant and Bawden Edward – The Arabs, 1947. ♥ Joe Pearson – Drawn Direct to the Plate, 2010 ♦ Edward Bawden 1939-1944, ART/WA2/03/044/1
In the past two weeks I have posted about Edward Bawden and his home in the twilight of his life. This is the third and last of these posts.
The artists of Great Bardfield all reacted to their surroundings by making paintings or prints of the area that they lived, so when Edward Bawden moved to Saffron Walden in 1970, he naturally used local places in his artworks, from Bridge End Garden’s to the church.
Exhibition list from The Fine Art Society Ltd show 20/ii/1978 – 10/iii/1978.
One of the biggest tourist attractions to Saffron Walden and one of the most prominent buildings in East Anglia is Audley End house and its gardens. It also was very convenient being twenty minuets walk from Bawden’s house, even for an older man.
In 1973 Bawden made a large lino cut of Audley End, a complex task to complete, with the regimented architecture of the building it is one of the more technical linocuts Bawden completed.
Edward Bawden – Audley End House, 1973
The watercolours Bawden completed where many but show off the wonderful and complex landscape of the Audley End Park, it’s follies and the trees.
Edward Bawden – The Temple of Concord, Audley End, 1975
After the Second World War had effectively ended with the United States dropping the two nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945, the world was closing one door to war and opening another into the Cold War. This was both an arms-race and a stand-off. Peace movements and rallies had some worth to them then.
Augustus John joined the Peace Pledge Union as a pacifist in the 1950s, and on the 17th September 1961, just over a month before his death, he joined the Committee of 100’s anti-nuclear weapons demonstration in Trafalgar Square, London. At the time, his son, Admiral Sir Caspar John was First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff. It can only be guessed that Caspar John was not happy about it. Further more he was invited to join an CND demonstration by Bertrand Russell.
From Augustus John Fryern Court, Fordingbridge, Hants. (Postmarked 15 Feb 1961)
Dear Lord Russell,
Your message was brought to me while I was working in the studio (not the one you knew, but one further off) by the gardener. I told him how to reply, which he said he understood but I don’t know if he did so correctly. All I wanted to say was that I believed in the object of the demonstration and would like to go to prison if necessary. I didn’t want to parade my physical disabilities though I still have to follow the instructions of my doctor, who I think saved my life when I was in danger of coronary thrombosis. A very distinguished medical authority who was consulted, took a very pessimistic view of my case, but my local doctor, undeterred, continued his treatment and I feel sure, saved my life. All this I meant privately & am sure you understood, even if the gardener garbled it when telephoning.I wish the greatest success for the demonstration on the 18th although I can only be with you in spirit.
Your Augustus John,
A few days later on the 18th February 1961, Bertrand Russell can be seen sitting under the banner of Action for life, a peace protest against nuclear weapons.
At a peace protest for the commemoration of Hiroshima Day on the 6th August, 1961 Russell was arrested when he took part in a sit down protest.
At the age of 89, Russell was jailed for seven days in Brixton Prison for “breach of peace” after taking part in the anti-nuclear demonstration in London. The magistrate offered to exempt him from jail if he pledged himself to “good behaviour”, to which Russell replied: “No, I won’t.”
Cartoon from the Evening Standard refers to the week-long prison sentence served by Russell in September 1961.
After he had spent a week in jail he was released. In October he gave a speech in Trafalgar Square.
Extract of Russell’s Speech in Trafalgar Square, October 29, 1961
During the last decades there have been many people who have been loud in condemnation of the Germans for having permitted the growth of Nazi evil and atrocities in their country. ‘How’, these people ask, ‘could these Germans allow themselves to remain unaware of the evil? Why did they not risk their comfort, their livelihood, even their lives to combat it?’
Now a more all-embracing danger threatens us all-the danger of nuclear war. I am very proud that there is in this country a rapidly growing company of people who refuse to remain unaware of the danger, or ignorant of the facts concerning the policies that enable, and force, us to live in such danger. I am even prouder to be associated with those many among them who, at whatever risk of discomfort and often of very real hardship, are willing to take drastic action to uphold their belief. They had laid themselves open to the charges of being silly, being exhibitionist, being law-breakers, being traitors. They have suffered ostracism and imprisonment, sometimes repeatedly, in order to call attention the facts that they have made the effort to learn.It is a great happiness to me to welcome so many of them here – I wish that I could say all of them, but some are still in prison. We none of us, however can be entirely happy until our immediate aim has been achieved and the threat of nuclear war has become a thing of the past. Then such actions as we have taken and shall take will no longer be necessary.
We all wish that there shall be no nuclear war, but I do not think that the country realizes, or even that many of us here present realize, the very considerable likelihood of a nuclear war within the next few months. We are all aware of Khrushchev’s resumption of tests and of his threat to explode a 50 megaton bomb.
We all deplore these provocative acts. But I think we are less aware of the rapidly growing feeling in America in favour of a nuclear war in the very near future. In America, the actions of Congress are very largely determined by lobbies representing this or that interest. The armament lobby, which represents both the economic interests of armament firms and the warlike ardour of generals and admirals, is exceedingly powerful, and it is very doubtful whether the President will be able to stand out against the pressure which it is exerting. Its aims are set forth in a quite recent policy statement by the Air Force Association, which is the most terrifying document that I have ever read. It begins by stating that preservation of the status quo is not adequate as a national goal. I quote: ‘Freedom must bury Communism or be buried by Communism. Complete eradication of the Soviet system must be our national goal, our obligation to all free people, our promise of hope to all who are not free.’ It is a curious hope that is being promised, since it an only be realised in heaven, for the only ‘promise’ that the West can hope to fulfil is the promise to turn Eastern populations into Corpses.
The noble patriots who make this pronouncement omit to mention that Western populations also will be exterminated. ‘We are determined’, they say, ‘to back our words with action even at the risk of war. We seek not merely to preserve our freedoms, but to extend them.’ The word ‘freedom’, which is a favourite word of Western warmongers, has to be understood in a somewhat peculiar sense. It mains freedom for warmongers and prison for those who oppose them. A freedom scarcely distinguishable from this exists in Soviet Russia. The document that I am discussing says that we should employ bombs against Soviet aggression, even if the aggression is nonnuclear and even if it consists only of infiltration. We must have, it says, ‘ability to fight, win, and purposefully survive a general nuclear war’. This aim is, of course, impossible to realise, but, by using their peculiar brand of ‘freedom’ to cause belief in lies, they hope to persuade a deliberately uninformed public opinion to join in their race towards death. They are careful to promise us that H-bombs will not be the worst things they have to offer. ‘Nuclear weapons’, they say, ‘are not the end of military development. There is no reason to believe that nuclear weapons, no matter how much they may increase in number and ferocity, mark the end of the line in military systems’ development.’ They explain their meaning by saying, ‘ factor in the international power equation’. They lead up to a noble peroration: “Soviet aims are both evil and implacable.
The people (i.e. the American people) are willing to work toward, and fight for if necessary, the elimination of Communism from the world scene. Let the issue be joined.’ This ferocious document, which amounts to a sentence of death on the human race, does not consist of the idle vapourings of acknowledged cranks. On the contrary, it represents the enormous economic power of the armament industry, which is re-enforced in the public mind by the cleverly instilled fear that disarmament would bring a new depression. This fear has been instilled in spite of the fact that Americans have been assured in the Wall Street journal that a new depression would not be brought about, that the conversion from armaments to manufactures for peace could be made with little dislocation. Reputable economists in other countries support this Wall Street view. But the armament firms exploit patriotism and anti-communism as means of transferring the taxpayers’ money into their own pockets. Ruthlessly, and probably consciously, they are leading the world towards disaster. Two days ago The Times published an article by its correspondent in Washington which began: ‘The United States has decided that any attempt by East Germany to close the Friedrichstrasse crossing between West and East Berlin will be met by force.’ These facts about both America and Russia strengthen my belief that the aims that I have been advocating for some years, and upon which some of us are agreed, are right. I believe that Britain should become neutral, leaving NATO to which, in any case, she adds only negligible strength. I believe this partly because I believe that Britain would be safer as a neutral, and without a bomb of her own or the illusory ‘protection’ of the American bomb, and without bases for foreign troops; and, perhaps more important, I believe it because, if Britain were neutral, she could do more to help to achieve peace in the world than she can do now. †
Augustus John’s portrait of Bertrand Russell.
† Bertrand Russell’s America: His Transatlantic Travels and Writings. Volume Two 1945-1970: 2
Harry Epworth Allen I think is the next big thing to come to publishing. It can surely only be a matter of time before publishers look upon his work as something to be spotlighted, having almost been forgotten. A mixture of the locations of Eric Ravilious but painted in a more surreal style than Stanley Spencer or Grant Wood, he is worth looking into.
Harry Epworth Allen – The Derelict Farm, 1949
Allen was recognised as one of the Yorkshire Artists group. His style is often regarded as surreal. Allen’s paintings are held in the art collections of a number of British institutions including Sheffield Museums, Derby Art Gallery, The Hepworth Wakefield and the British Museum.
In 1915, Allen enlisted with the Royal Garrison Artillery of the Regular Army and in June 1916 was posted to the British Expeditionary Force to France. He worked as assistant to the observation officer, sketching enemy equipment and locations in the field. In August 1916, he was moved to the front line.
In 1917, he was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry. He was badly wounded. His school magazine for 1917 recorded his experience:
Private H.E.Allen (R.G.A.) has been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry under heavy shell fire on January 25th 1917. He was an assistant to the observation officer, and had many exciting times in this post. Under heavy shelling of the enemy, he found his officer completely buried in the dug-out, and, though under heavy fire, tried to extricate him. A shell falling within a yard of him buried and bruised him, but he managed to get free and obtain further assistance and save the officer’s life. Unfortunately, Allen himself was badly wounded in both legs and lies in hospital in France.
One leg had to be amputated above the knee, while the other leg was seriously injured by shrapnel. Allen was discharged from the Army in 1918 with an artificial leg.
Harry Epworth Allen – Burning Limestone
Born at 20, Kirkstall Road, in the Hunter’s Bar district of Sheffield, England, the city would remain his home for the rest of his life. His father was Henry Allen, a steel mark maker, and his mother, Elizabeth Epworth Allen (née Blacktin). Epworth was the maiden name of Elizabeth’s mother, who was also called Elizabeth.
He was a member of a number of art societies including Sheffield Society of Artists, Hallamshire Sketch Club (from 1932 known as the Hallamshire Art Society), Heeley Art Club, and later the Pastel Society 1952. He exhibited at The Royal Academy over 23 years from 1933 and he had 39 works accepted by them.
Allen died on 25 March 1958, at home, at 67 Banner Cross Road, from a coronary thrombosis.
This week’s post all started with a book token that I found being used as a bookmark. It was of the John Nash painting ‘A Window in Bucks’.
John Nash – A Book Token featuring A Window in Bucks
The painting was a view from John Nash’s house ‘Lane’s End’ in Meadle, Buckinghamshire. John Nash and his wife Christie moved to the village in 1922 and stayed until 1939. During his time there many friends visited including Eric Ravilious, Barnett Freedman and his brother Paul Nash.
Eric Ravilious, Barnett Freedman and John Nash photographed by Christie Nash in April 1940. †
Meadle is a hamlet in Buckinghamshire, England. It is located to the north of the village of Monks Risborough and near Little Kimble. Today the population of Meadle is about 75. A village of barn conversions and very few new housing, most of the properties are farmhouses and labourers’ cottages build in traditional red clay brick with thatched roofs. A small stream rises in the village and ultimately joins the Thames.
The view of the book token is taken from the window at Meadle, The same view can be seen from the painting below.
John Nash – Winter Landscape
The field line of this painted study line up to the bookplate above, the shape of the hedges and the three colours in the fields too.
John Nash – Window in Bucks, auto-lithograph, 1928.
In this lithograph the view out of the window is to the left-side, but still lines up with hedgerows today. What some have called ‘willow style fencing’ is actually a traditional hedgerow of what is most likely Hawthorn.
John Nash’s home ‘Lane’s End’, Meadle, Buckinghamshire.
One of the upstairs windows at the front of the house would have been where the paintings where made as the hedgerows in the painting line up to the hedges and field layouts today.
Paul Nash – Lupins and Cactus, 1928
The painting Lupins and Cactus is believed to have been painted by Paul Nash while staying at Meadle in 1928. The windows fit the style painted in the house and the flowers are likely to have been grown by John in the garden.
John Nash – The Garden under Snow
The Garden under Snow is believed to be a view from the back of the house and the garden of Lane’s End
Featured in The Saturday Book #11 there is a drawn graphic diary by Edward Ardizzone. A Holiday Afloat is listed as having ‘a slight misspelling or two’. It includes 20 pen drawings, most of which depict the artist and his family.
Some of the Ardizzone sketchbooks later developed into illustrated diaries, but on certain occasions Ardizzone would start with a diary in mind from the beginning. As an illustrator, the conjunction of text and drawing attracted him and he enjoyed the making of a written and pictorial record. After the war he made a number of small diaries.
The first was of A Holiday Afloat when he took a boat with his wife and his youngest child, Nicholas, in September 1949, and journeyed from Lechlade to Oxford. There were miseries and mishaps but some good moments, and the weather was awful, cold and wet.
The drawings are some of his happiest in this vein and at the end the reader is left wishing for more. A Holiday Afloat was later published with some spelling mistakes in The Saturday Book, edited by Leonard Russell (1951). †
† Edward Ardizzone: Artist and Illustrator by Gabriel White p99, 1979.
The Countryman magazine was founded in 1927 by J. W. Robertson Scott, who edited it from his office in Idbury in rural Oxfordshire for the first 21 years, since then it has had many editors but is still going today. In the Spring issue of 1958 it described itself as “A quarterly non-party review and miscellany of rural life and work for the English-speaking world”. Its editor at that time was Johnathan Cripps.
The magazines are amazing things to look in as you never know what you will read, from blacksmiths who make Dragon shaped door locks to the development of archaeology and farming. The size is also charming, being A5 it slips in a bag better than most modern magazines.
In 1959 the magazine was published quarterly, all four of the covers were designed by John Nash. Nash at this time lived in Bottengoms, a house in Wormingford, Essex, near Colchester. He taught botanical illustration at the Colchester School of Art in the 60s and 70s. He is most famous for his country paintings and was at the forefront of the revival of British landscape painting.
These copies with the John Nash covers are not that rare but many booksellers online have not noticed the illustrator.
Nash’s most important association with The Countryman was over the four cover designs he did for their 1959 issues. Prior to 1959 the covers had always tabled the list of contents, but Cripps wrote to Nash in May 1958 explaining that for some time he had been investigating the possibility of introducing an illustration onto the cover, and he invited Nash’s comments on the matter. Obviously this was an important step for such a well established periodical and one that could win or lose a lot of readers. John Lewis was also asked to come in on the project to advise on the design and layout of the new covers. It was decided that Nash would design the first four covers and Cripps wrote to him accordingly:
… to confirm that you will prepare four roughs with some relation to the seasons, to occupy approximately the top half of the space on our cover now filled with the titles of articles and their authors. For these I would pay a total sum of thirty guineas.
By September 1958 Nash had done four designs which he sent to John Lewis for his comments. Nash apologised that they were carried out in biro, he also pointed out that his final drawings would be twice the size in order to simplify any cross-hatching work he had to do. The drawings were sent on to Cripps who then wrote back to Nash with various suggestions.
He liked Nash’s drawing of Skye best and he asked him if he could perhaps include some lambs in the illustration so they could use it for the first cover for Spring. Nash checked to see whether there would in fact be lambs on Skye in spring and as there were be revised his drawing accordingly.
The drawing for Winter of a lane at Stoke-by-Nayland was also approved of, but Cripps pointed out that as this design had trees in it, it would be inappropriate to precede it with Nash’s drawing for Autumn of a wood. Nash therefore produced
another drawing for Autumn, a more seasonal one of apple-picking with a sprig of a blackberry bush across the foreground.
Nash’s fourth drawing of a lake in Cornwall also had to be re-done because the paper for the cover was too absorbent and would not pick up the detail in his design. This he substituted with the drawing of ‘A Suffolk Stream’.
Apart from a somewhat lengthy discussion about whether there should be a line round Nash’s illustrations or not, and a few minor revisions to the positioning of the blackberry sprig for the Autumn cover, the printing went ahead according to plan. Nash’s designs were obviously a success because from now on all The Counterman covers were illustrated. The next six were on the same deep green paper, but in the autumn of 1961 this was replaced with a bright green and the design was inset on a white background. Nash was not asked to contribute further cover designs. †
† Clare Colvin – John Nash – Book Designs, p74, 1986
The journey of any work of art can be interesting in how it is used, forgotten and then reused. As I write this I think it’s endemic of Ravilious’s life that there can be no area or topic on him that hasn’t been probed or turned into a book, but onward I go with my quest for originality.
Eric Ravilious – Sketch for Tea in the Garden, 1936
In 1936 Eric Ravilious made a wood engraving for London Transport. Tea in the Garden was made to be used in newspaper advertisements for the Green Line bus service, a decorative vignette to go with commuter information. It is a rather abstract design but it was the start of the commuter lifestyle as London was building a new wave of suburbia and you can imagine the print being used with slogans like “home in time for tea” or “enjoy the garden, 20 mins from the city by bus”
Eric Ravilious – Finished print of Tea in the Garden, 1936
Soon after Ravilious reused the design for a commission with Wedgwood, he was so busy during this point that many designs where recycled from wood engravings to watercolours or china. Below you can see a sketch drawing for a teapot design using the woodblock above. Carving out the legs of the bench and inverting the colours of the table so when printed the transfer will be black and an enamel colour wash painted over.
Eric Ravilious – Sketched idea for Teapot design, 1938
The finished design below, with the colouring in yellow, blue and green. The design has been made simpler and the shading is able to be more subtle as it will be printed on a metal plate, so there is more detail in the halftone lines. It was first used on a preserve jar for Wedgwood.
The preserve jar was introduced six months in advance of the rest of the pattern. The design was advertised in 1939 as being available also in breakfast and coffee sets; the war prevented production of these. At first unnamed, later called ‘Teaset’, the design was finally named ‘Afternoon Tea’.
Here the tea-set is advertised in ‘The Studio Year Book of Decorative Art 1943-1948′ (the gap in printing is noted in the introduction due to WW2, lack of paper and designers being commissioned to do essential war work, this year book covers a wide range of time).
The Bone china tea ware decorated with motifs illustrating Afternoon Tea, printed in sepia and hand-coloured green. Designed by Eric Ravilious A.R.C.A. for Josiah Wedgwood and Sons. †
Here is a tea-plate from the set with the simple wave decoration on the perimeter of the plate and washed in blue enamel paint.
In this prototype photograph from 1938 the design is painted around with a pink glaze to the edge of the design and the Ravilious vignette and border uncoloured but printed in a brown sepia with the pink flooding over the whole plate. These are the rarest of all the designs as they were not put into production and the designs were modified to use less colour glaze after the war.
Twenty five years later the original woodblock design would be resurrected and used in a reduced size for advertising and on the covers of Country Walks booklets.
Country Walks with the Ravilious Engraving on the cover, 1978
A rather fun and unusual poster for the Country Walks books by Harry Stevens, 1978.
Ravilious Engravings by Ravilious Jeremy Greenwood, Wood Lea Press, 2008. Country Walks, London Transport, 1978. Ravilious and Wedgwood: The Complete Wedgwood Designs of Eric Ravilious, 1995. † The Studio Year Book of Decorative Art 1943-1948