There is always the thrill of what comes next in my hunt for things to buy and own. I found this artist’s work, printed in black and white in the studio magazine and knew I would love it. The magazine was from 1958 and I think the art that I have been able to find so far by Henderson Blyth makes him an unknown treasure, to me anyhow.
Among the younger established painters of the Contemporary Scottish School none has attained a more prominent place than Henderson Blyth.
Blyth is a true Scot. He has inherited the characteristic temperament of his people and his art is the embodiment of all that is nordic, elemental and discrete. In addition he has inherited the Scots intellectual curiosity and insatiable appetite for intimate knowledge of the phenomenal world. Together these ingredients account for the peculiarly personal and indigenous quality of his work.
Trained at Glasgow, he was early initiated into the poetry of tone and the ‘logic’ of form. A year’s study under the late James Cowie, R.S.A. at the country Art School at Hospitalfield enabled him to continue and develop his personal interests and leanings. Cowie was an impeccable draughtsman, a fastidious classicist and a man of profound artistic integrity. To a young romantic the environment at Hospitalfield could hardly have been better adapted to his intellectual and spiritual requirements. A prodigious worker. Blyth’s reputation rests primarily upon his landscapes which are burdened and sombre. †
Robert Henderson Blyth – Rain on the Hill
Robert Henderson Blyth – Thunder Light, 1967
Robert Henderson Blyth – Self-portrait as soldier in trenches – Sub-titled ‘Existence Precarious’, 1919
Robert Henderson Blyth – The Artist’s Wife Hanging out the Laundry, 1947
The Fry Gallery in Saffron Walden have many artists under their remit of ‘North Essex’ and one of the more unexpected ones is John Norris Wood. A naturalist and teacher at the Royal College of Art, he was an influential figure in keeping nature and drawing part of the art syllabus at the college.
Born in London on 29 November 1930, son of Lucy and Wilfrid Burton Wood, John grew up in Shalford Green, near Braintree, Essex. Educated at Bryanston School, being influenced by the art master, Charles Handley-Read.
John Norris Wood – Night Flight
At the age of 16, when he was introduced to Edward Bawden: ‘Edward phoned me up saying his wife Charlotte Bawden had been to see some pictures I’d been exhibiting in Braintree and that he would like me to come and visit him if I would care to. So I did, and it was all very amazing. There were so many things in his house designed by him, from fabrics to furniture to masses of pictures, of course, and I was enchanted. So I first came to know about the College when I was far, far too young to go there [through] Edward saying he taught at the Royal College and telling me about it.’
Bawden was impressed by John’s proficiency as a draughtsman, gave him some lessons, and allowed him to use his studio whenever he wanted – the anecdote goes – as long as he didn’t speak.
John Norris Wood – Country Garden Butterflies
He studied at Goldsmiths’ College School of Art, under Clive Gardiner and teachers who included Sam Rabin, Adrian Ryan and Betty Swanwick and then went on to the Royal College of Art, where his teachers included Edward Ardizzone, John Minton and, most significantly, Edward Bawden; while there he won a silver medal for zoological drawing.
John Norris Wood – The Desire of the Moth for the Lamp
In 1962 John married Julie, the daughter of Richard Guyatt, in 1962 and they led a blissfully happy, if unconventional, family life at his small nature reserve in East Sussex.
In 1971 Robin Darwin, rector of the Royal College of Art, asked John Norris Wood to found the Natural History and Illustration and Ecological Studies course there.
During the late 1950s he spent periods at the East Anglian School of Painting and Design at Benton End, Hadleigh, Suffolk. Wood taught at Goldsmiths’ 1956-1968, Cambridge School of Art 1959-1970 and Hornsey College of Art and in 1971 he returned to the Royal College of Art becoming a Fellow in 1980. In 1962 Wood married the designer, Julie Corsellis Grant, daughter of designer, Richard Guyatt and they lived at Garretts, Shalford, Essex and had two children.
John Norris Wood – Stamps
Wood became a freelance artist and illustrator, working for a variety of book and magazine publishers in Britain and America. His series for children, ‘Nature Hide and Seek’, which he wrote and co-illustrated with Kevin Dean, was designated best children’s books of the year by the US Association for the Advancement of Science also writing and broadcasting for television on a number of natural history subjects. Wood has exhibited widely in London and the provinces, and also internationally. His solo shows include those at the Fry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden 2001, the Chappel Galleries, Colchester 2002 and the Museum of Zoology, University of Cambridge 2004. A member of the Society of Wildlife Artists in 1997 and also a member of the Society of Authors and the Thomas Hardy Society. He latterly lived Wadhurst, East Sussex and he died 17 October 2015.
John Norris Wood – An Alphabet in Praise of Frogs & Toads
To discover a new work or artist is always exciting, but it must be rather perplexing to some people who have lived with artists and their work, and over time find it admired. This happens many times with families accepting works of art on walls, but not enquiring.
A famous example of this is Evelyn Dunbar. She had died in 1960. Her work and her studio was packed up and distributed about the family soon after. In 2013 the wife of Evelyn’s nephew was watching Antiques Roadshow and saw the expert value one of her paintings at £40,000 – £60,000. Members of the family started to look for the works!
They turned out to include more than 500 paintings and drawings by Evelyn. Another nephew had been tracking the contents of Evelyn’s “lost studio”, dismantled after her death, with its contents sold on or given away to family and friends, and compiling a record of her paintings; the find doubled the number of her known works ♥
With the help of a commercial gallery the works were costed at a market price and presented to the public to buy, along with a major retrospective of these new works. A PR Video on Dunbar can be found here.
In the case of Suzanne Cooper, the family knew of the works but sought for recognition for her. They have also reprinted some of her woodblocks for sale. Her family own 14 of her paintings and various woodblocks and the original blocks, 1 painting is in the Auckland Art Gallery in New Zealand, but around 12 works are ‘lost’ and yet to resurface in the market.
Born in 1916, Cooper grew up in Frinton, Essex, the town with the reputation. We know that she was educated at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London under Iain Macnab and Cyril Power.
Based in 33 Warwick Square, Pimlico, London, the Grosvenor School was housed in a mansion built in 1859 by architect George Morgan for James Rannie Swinton, the Scottish portrait painter. In 1924 the house was sold following the divorce of Lady Patricia Ellison (of Louisville, Kentucky) and Sir Charles Ross (of Balnagown).
Iain Macnab married Helen Wingrave, a famous dancer and dance instructress. Macnab used some of the building as teaching rooms for his Grosvenor School and others are living quarters while his wife operated a dance studio and gave private lessons from the ball room.
The Grosvenor School would have been the hippest place to be taught at the time and the printmaking department was having a renascence of modernism with lino and woodcuts. It is clear that Cooper was influenced by Macnab’s style in woodcut.
Suzanne Cooper – Back Gardens
Iain Macnab – Cassis-sur-Mer
During Cooper’s time as a student she exhibited paintings and wood-engravings at the Redfern, Zwemmer, Wertheim and Stafford Galleries, mostly as part of the Society of Women Artists and the
National Society of Painters, Sculptors and Print-Makers, the later being reviewed below in 1938.
I liked the prints of Rachel Roberts, a newcomer to these exhibitions, and also those by Suzanne Cooper, Eric King, Joar Hyde, and John O’Connor. †
Christopher Wood’s patron, Lucy Carrington Wertheim bought one of Coopers paintings Royal Albion, she later donated it to the Auckland Art Gallery in 1948. It was at this time that Cooper was painting in oils and her work mirrored Christopher Woods in tone and composition.
Suzanne Cooper – Royal Albion, 1936
Suzanne Cooper was one of many artists who were taken under the wing of Lucy Carrington Wertheim, who was first encouraged by Frances Hodgkins to set up a modern art gallery. This delightful depiction of the Royal Albion hotel shows a common seaside view, with small boats drawn up on the beach opposite, in the protection of the groynes which can be found on many British beaches. The artist’s use of simplified blocks of form and colour was popular with members of the St Ives school of painters. ‡
The fashionable appeal of the Grosvenor School linocuts did not last long, however. Even before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. ♠
The Second World War came and the Grosvenor School Closed in 1939. Cooper married Michael Franklin in 1940. They had three children, and she produced no more large-scale paintings, though continuing to work in pastels and chalk. She died in 1992.
Suzanne Cooper – The Carol Singers
Suzanne Cooper – Street Scene
Suzanne Cooper – Still Life
Suzanne Cooper – Renwick Coals
Christopher Wood – Drying nets, Treboul Harbour, 1930
† The Scotsman – Tuesday, 08 February, 1938 ‡ Auckland Art Gallery ♠ Lino Cutting and the Grosvenor School of Modern Art – artrepublic ♥ Evelyn Dunbar: the genius in the attic, The Guardian
Marion Elizabeth Adnams was an English painter, printmaker, draughtswoman and one of Britain’s unknown Surrealist painters, there are many artists who don’t get the recognition they deserve.
Her family were from the Isle of Wight but moved and settled in Derbyshire, where she was born and educated. After reading Modern Languages at Nottingham University and teaching French and English in the day, it was then that she started to paint and took evening classes at Derby School of Art under Alfred Bladen. In some of her paintings she used locations in Derbyshire as the subjects in oil.
In 1938 Adnams became an art teacher and around this time she started painting in a surrealist style; putting apparently unrelated objects together in mysterious scenes, and rarely if ever including figures. †
She became head of the art department at Derby Training College in 1946, the year Aftermath was painted. The skull and barbed wire may allude to the war, but they were also standard Surrealist motifs, seen also, for example, in the work of John Banting. ‡
Adnams made many friends in the artistic world, she is listed in the credits of many books on surrealist and abstract art in the 1930s and credited as a adviser on churches in Derbyshire in John Betjeman’s English Parish Churches. She is also thanked in the book, Vom Bauhaus nach Terezín – Children’s Drawings from the Concentration Camp Theresienstadt.
Marion Adnams – Alter Ego, 1940
Marion Adnams – For Lo, Winter Is Past, 1963
Marion Adnams – Three Stones, 1968
Marion Adnams – Variation On Red, 1949
Marion Adnams – The Seven Lamps, 1956
Marion Adnams – Spring In The Cemetery, 1956
Marion Adnams – Hay Harvest, 1947
Marion Adnams – Coloured Ending, 1962
Marion Adnams – The Living Tree, 1939
The Living Tree: On a visit to Sark in the summer of 1939 she was thrilled with the sea and its accompaniment of seaweed, sand and shells. Skies fascinated her, too, and of these she made endless colour notes. The twisted trunks and branches of trees. ♠
† Marion Adnams – National Galleries of Scotland
‡ Another World – Dalí, Magritte, Miró and the Surrealists, 2010, p162
♠ The Studio Magazine – Volumes 127-128, 1944, p120
Alan Windsor – Handbook of Modern British Painting and Printmaking 1900-1990, 1998, p3
Sara Gray – The Dictionary of British Women Artists, 2009 p11
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.