Before and After Great Bardfield: The Autobiography of Lucie Aldridge with a postscript by Robjn Cantus. The limited edition hardback is one of 50 copies that are signed and numbered with dust-jacket. The paperback is limited to 250 copies.
“It will have to wait until I’m dead or Laura will shoot me,” Lucie Aldridge wrote of her autobiography, referring to Robert Graves’s long-term mistress and muse Laura Riding. A painter and rug weaver, Lucie Aldridge settled in the Essex village of Great Bardfield in 1933 with her husband, the painter John Aldridge. Also living there at that time were Eric Ravilious and his wife Tirzah Garwood who were cohabiting with Charlotte and Edward Bawden. When Tirzah and John had an affair it tarnished the Aldridge’s marriage forever, something Garwood didn’t acknowledge in her biography Long Live Great Bardfield.
This is Lucie’s newly discovered autobiography, with a detailed biographical postscript by Robjn Cantus. The memoirs were written at the suggestion of the editor of Time magazine, T. S. Matthews. They describe her unorthodox childhood in Cambridgeshire, the involvement of her family in Women’s Suffrage, her marriage during the First World War, and her experiences at Art School in London in the 1920s. A beautiful woman, she posed for several artists. She also observed the post-War era of the Bright Young Things and the painters she knew, including Robert Bevan, Cedric Morris and Stanley Spencer. Through John Aldridge she came to know Robert Graves when he was living in Deià with Riding, and provides a fascinating account of her visits there while Graves was in self-imposed exile after writing Goodbye to All That. During these visits she also met and wrote about poets and artists such as Norman Cameron and Len Lye.
After Lucie’s death in 1974 the memoir was lost, but it recently surfaced in an American university archive. This is its first publication with Lucie’s text illustrated with linocuts by Edward Bawden. The postscript covers the other artists of Great Bardfield and their friends.
After being postponed due to the Covid pandemic the book is released on the 16th August. It has been printed in a limited edition of 50 hardback copies and 250 paperbacks.
If you are interested in the author giving talks on the book please email.
In 1964 Edward Bawden went to Dublin. It is not known if it was a commision for House & Garden or not, but regardless, he illustrated a tour of the city. The magazine follows with a historical account of each of the locations, but below I have scanned the images in for you all to see, as I doubt there are many editions surviving.
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 Pavilionat 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.
This is a post about the back of Brick House, the home of Edward Bawden in Great Bardfield. It is an odd thing but many artists ended up painting the back of Bawden’s house more than the front. One would guess they were painted during parties or over weekends.
Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious were young artists, they met as students at the Royal College of Art, London, in 1922. Bawden and Ravilious moved into Essex in 1925, Cycling around the area they came across Brick House, Great Bardfield where they rented rooms from Mrs Kinnear, a retired ship-stewardess, for weekends away from London.
Ronald Maddox – Brick House, 1960
Brick House is an early 18th Century red brick house with two floors and windowed attics. The property had two staircases, so when the house was rented it was divided into two parts with a shared kitchen and scullery. It had been the home of a carriage maker, a girls school, and a coffin maker in it’s past. Mrs Kinnear rented rooms but lived her with two daughters and her dog.
When Edward Bawden married Charlotte Epton in 1932, Edward’s father bought them Brick House as a wedding gift and Charlotte’s father, who was a solicitor took care of the paperwork.
The first picture here, by Eric Ravilious is painted from the top of the house. At this time the roof was being repaired and retiled as it was in poor condition after purchase. Edward and Eric both climbed up the ladders to the roof to paint the view, you can see more of the guttering to the right of the picture below than you could from the view of Edward’s studio.
Eric Ravilious – Prospect from an Attic, 1932
The picture below by Bawden shows the roof being repaired by Elisha Parker and Eric Townsend and their ladder to the roof. Even though the house was sold, Mrs Kinnear (the old landlady) had left all her possessions in the building while she took up a Housekeeper post in the New Forest. Charlotte managed to arrange that the possessions would be stored in the Village Hall and with the help of Mrs Townsend (Eric’s mother, who was also the washer woman) she moved them out of the house. While the roof was repaired Charlotte Bawden cleaned and fumigated the rooms prior to them being decorated.
You can see Elisha and Eric on the roof below.
Edward Bawden – They dreamt not of a perishable home, who thus could build, 1932
The bizarre name for the painting was inspired by Mary Gwen Lloyd Thomas, one of Charlotte’s friends who edited poetry books, the quote is from Wordsworth:
They dreamt not of a perishable home who thus could build Be mine, in hours of fear Or grovelling thought, to seek a refuge here; Or through the aisles of Westminster to roam; Where bubbles burst, and folly’s dancing foam Melts, if it cross the threshold
In the Garden is a little wooden trellised hut that the Raviliouses had given to the Bawden’s as a wedding present. You can see the foundations being installed in the picture above with wheelbarrows around and upturned earth (They dreamt not of a perishable home…).
It is my feeling that the picture below by Charles Mahoney was painted in 1932, likely just after the roof was completed. It is part of the collection of the Royal Academy and they date it as 1950s, likely because the missing trellis. Why do I think ’32? Well the same concrete foundations and wheelbarrows are where the trellis would later stand (the site of the buckets), and the waterbutt is to the left in Mahoney’s painting where as in the painting below it by Ravilious the waterbutt has been moved. Also the shed beside the trellis was lost in the war and replaced by one with a different roof axis. But mostly because it looks so much like the painting above.
Charles Mahoney – Barnyard (RA Say 1950’s I say 1932)
You can see the completed trellis in the picture by Ravilious below. Also the blue gates helped divide the part of the Bawden’s garden from Mrs Kinnear part of the house originally, it was also where she kept her dog. Later on as motorcars became popular the gates would divide the house from the driveway.
Eric Ravilious – The Garden Path, 1933
The brougham cart in the picture below was a purchase by Charlotte Bawden who bought it mostly because she thought the wheels were so valuable. Tom Ives (the farmer from Ives Farm at the end of their Garden) was selling it, and for some years it was kept under the trellis.
On the top of the trellis building is a wooden carved soldier made by Eric Townsend, the arms moved in the wind to scare birds on the farms.
Edward Bawden, My heart, untravel’d, fondly turns to thee (aka Derelict Cab), 1933
The picture below is of a Snowstorm by Bawden, he has scratched the paper to give the effect of snow blowing on the wind in all directions as it falls. The view is from the window in his Studio that looked almost right down the drain pipe. The carriage likely sold or scrapped by that point.
Edward Bawden, February 2pm, 1936
In 1937 the Country Life Cookbook had wood engravings inside, designed by Eric Ravilious and it featured a small wood engraving of the Brick House garden and the trellis again. By this time the Raviliouses had moved to Castle Hedingham, about six miles east of Great Bardfield.
Eric Ravilious – August, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937
Below is a painting by another visitor to Brick House, Geoffrey Hamilton Rhoades. He is mentioned in Anne Ullman’s edited Tirzah Garwood biography Long Live Great Bardfield. This painting has a guessed age of c1940s, I would again say it is likely mid-to-late 1930s as the toy soldier is still on top of the trellis. The other amazing and totally unrelated detail about this painting is it was bought by Pixie O’Shaughnessy-Lorant in 1987. What an amazing name!
Geoffrey Hamilton Rhoades – Brick House, Great Bardfield, likely about 1935
During the Second World War Edward was touring the world painting as an official War Artist, Charlotte was in Cheltenham teaching and potting at Winchcombe, and their two children Richard and Joanna were at private schools in the Cotswolds. As the Brick House was empty it was used, and abused by the Home Guard and local officials as a headquarters. The house was the only building in Great Bardfield to suffer bomb damage. Many villages in the East of England were bombed, not as planned targets, but mostly from German bombers trying to dispel leftover bombs after failed bombing raids on airfields, factories or docks. The bombs being so heavy would use up more their the aircraft’s fuel and make it harder to fly back to their Nazi bases over the German Ocean.
After the War, John Aldridge painted the builders repairing Brick House. It was likely that the trellised building Eric and Tirzah gave to the Bawden’s was blown up at the same time. Eric, also an official war artist was also lost in the Second World War, in an aircraft off the coast of Iceland.
John Aldridge – Builders at Work, Brick House, Great Bardfield, 1946
John Aldridge had moved to Great Bardfield with Lucie Brown (nee Saunders) and the couple lived in sin until in 1940 John married her when he signed up to join the war effort.
The last painting of Brick House is this snow scene by Edward in 1955. Richard and Joanna are on a sledge and the roofs are covered with snow as is the ground making the red bricks bolder in colour.
Edward Bawden – Brick House, Great Bardfield, 1955
Lindsell is a village neighbouring Great Bardfield, Essex. The church is dedicated to St Mary The Virgin and dates back to Norman period with many alterations since. It was a church that Bawden would paint and print from different angles being in walking distance from his home at Brick House.
Although the styles are much the same the colour pallets are different. The linocut at the bottom of the page is very large and in life, has the texture and detail as this first watercolour.
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 preferenced 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 – Regents Park, Sussex Place
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, Womans 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, Amsersham in Buckinghamshire. She died in 1967.
Beryl Sinclair Studio Pottery Mark.
† Chelmsford Chronicle: Friday 13 November 1942
‡ Wikipedia AIA
Decimal Day in the United Kingdom was on 15 February 1971, the day on which each country decimalised its respective £sd currency of pounds, shillings, and pence.
The first decimal coins that appeared in the United Kingdom back in 1968 were a well-loved representation of British heritage at that time. 40 years later, in 2008, we wanted to update the coins with a fresh set of designs.
The process began with a competition. The Royal Mint asked people to submit designs for the six coins that could stand alone or work as a set. We were looking for designs that would symbolise Britain, perhaps by using traditional heraldry, though designers were free to explore all options.
As well as inviting specially chosen artists and coin designers to submit designs, we also opened the competition out to the general public. People were invited to send in their designs for six coins: the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p pieces. The £1 was initially left out of the competition.
I do enjoy looking at an artist in a narrow period of time or at one point in an artist’s life. With Bawden his holidays are wonderful examples of a fixed period of time. He normally took them with other artists, John Nash and Carol Weight.
Here we can see many views of Ireland by Bawden, as a contrast to some of the drawings and pictures he made of Portugal and other countries these are some of the most muted, colour wise. I am struggling to resist using the world gloomy. But there is a drama in the landscape that is very much Bawden with his painted lines of geology showing the drama of the hills.
The paintings formed two exhibitions, the first in November 1963 at the Zwemmer Gallery and a later exhibition at the Fine Art Society in November 1968.
Edward Bawden – Errigal, 1962
Edward Bawden – Quarry at Ballybofey Road, 1962
Edward Bawden – The Vault at Glenties, Donegal, 1962
Edward Bawden – The Poisoned Glen, 1962
Edward Bawden – The Muchish Mountain, 1962
Edward Bawden – The Bloody Foreland VI, Co. Donegal, 1965
Edward Bawden – Bloody Foreland VII, Co. Donegal, 1965