Life in an English Village: Discovered (A PDF Download)

Here is something I have been promising for some time, it is a booklet looking at the King Penguin book illustrated by Edward Bawden ‘Life in an English Village’.

Due to the volume of information and the way it needed to be referenced I have made it into a booklet for tablets and computers rather than one of my normal blog posts.

You can view and download it free as a PDF by following the this link. 

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Move to the country

I thought this was an interesting bit of Great Bardfield history, of what could have been. Below is a letter from Edward Bawden to the typographer and book designer John Lewis and what’s interesting is Bawden is suggesting a house for him to live in. 

There are two options, one is for them to have a long term rental of Town House in Great Bardfield (around four houses from Brick House) and then a beautiful house called Arundels in Bardfield Saling.

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 Arundels, Bardfield Saling.

What is rather lovely is Bawden has drawn out a map in the letter and is honest about how much work it will need to repair it. 

The curious thing about his letter is that it comes at a time when Edward was encouraging people like Walter Hoyle and other Royal College of Art staff to move to Great Bardfield. It is letters like this that show how Bawden was trying to cement an artistic community in Essex. In the end Lewis moved to Meadow Cottage, Great Bealings, Woodbridge, Suffolk, England, to be near W S Cowell Ltd, Ipswich, where he was a printer.

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 Edward Bawden – Letter to John Lewis, c1947.

In Ironbridge

Edward Bawden went on a working holiday to Iron Bridge with the War Artists John Aldridge and Carel Weight. John Nash went with them, but I couldn’t find any records until the artist Celia Hart found some for me! Here I have collected some of the pictures all of them made from that trip and likely finished off in their studios at home. Although the John Nash works don’t have dates I am confident they are from the same trip.

I was at Ironbridge for about six weeks in September and October 1956 and was joined by John Aldridge, John Nash and Carel Weight. Each of us in turn painted the famous bridge’. ‘Houses at Ironbridge was almost the last painting I was able to do during my stay’.

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John Nash – Ironbridge through the Bridge, Gridded study.

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John Nash – Ironbridge, (Exhibited in 1960)

The Iron Bridge is very handsome but a teaser to draw with three upright supports and five curved spans to every three so that a sideways view is very complicated…. We dodge between the showers and somehow I’ve done three drawings and a bit – but Carel has done an oil painting every day it seems while Edward keeps his work secretly in his rooms and does not divulge progress. Carel and I play bar billards every night, but Bawden will not join these simple diversions. 

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John Nash – Ironbridge, Shropshire.

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 Edward Bawden – Ironbridge Church, 1956

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 Edward Bawden – The House at Ironbridge, 1956

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 Edward Bawden – Iron Bridge, 1956

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 Edward Bawden. Houses at Ironbridge, 1956

The Bawden paintings above all share the same palette leading me to think he painted them on location and touched them up later. The wall of Houses at Ironbridge is a layering of paint and grease to make a watercolour batik over the drawing of the wall.

The paintings of John Aldridge show a quickly sketched oil painting that I would say was done on location and then an Italian looking Ironbridge in a brighter series of colours and much more control that I suspect would have been finished off in Great Bardfield.

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 John Aldridge – Ironbridge, 1956

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 John Aldridge – Ironbridge III, 1956

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 John Aldridge – Garden in Ironbridge, 1956

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 Carel Weight – Ironbridge, 1957

Tate – T00206
Letter from John Nash to John Lewis

Edward & Eric in Newhaven

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 Eric Ravilious – Brighton Queen at Night, 1935

The problem with book publishing is the rights to images and the expense of paying various people for them, thankfully the internet has a different code of conduct so when I make these posts, I can use pictures that have been lost, even from the world of Pintrest. I try hard to find as many relevant images as I can per topic. I say because someone suggested it was an easy blog to write, but the art of it is the research of quotes and images and though a topic ploughed before this post took a while to compile.

There is a lot on Eric Ravilious in Newhaven in print but very little on Edward Bawden and his feelings of the town other than a few letters back and forth. I start with how both Edward and Eric came to be in Newhaven. But the dates of the Bawden pictures are all over the place as he made visits to Newhaven alone apparently without Eric.

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 Edward Bawden – Ferryboat Entering Newhaven Harbour, 1935

Ravilious grew up in Sussex, in Eastbourne, where his parents had an antiques shop, studying first at the Eastbourne School of Art (1919-22) and then the Royal College of Art (1922-25), where he met his life-long friend Edward Bawden.

At this time in Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious lives they were living and painting together with their wives in Brick House, Great Bardfield, they were using the local area of Essex as a source of work but they both wanted some variety. In the summer of 1935 the pair went out to scout painting locations for trips. Harwich was location that didn’t delight.

Earlier in the summer Edward had suggested going to draw at Harwich with Eric, but when they went to look round it, they didn’t like it enough, and planned instead to go again to Newhaven, and stay at the Hope Inn. They would go at the beginning of August, after they had put up the end of year students’ exhibition in the design room at the college.

His (Eric) childhood association with Sussex was reignited by an invitation in 1934 from the artist and polymath Peggy Angus to stay in her shepherd’s hut, Furlongs, on the South Downs. 

From Furlongs Ravilious could easily meet up with Bawden for their trip to Newhaven as Ravilious was spending a lot of time at Furlongs painting watercolours for an exhibition later that year.

Newhaven was distinguished by a distinctive breakwater and seawall with lighthouses perched at each end. Ravilious’s predilection for the nautical was shared by many of his contemporaries.

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 The Hope Inn, Newhaven, 1935

As in a previous post, I mentioned that for Ravilious, Sussex was convenient as a location, as he was lodging in two old caravans at Furlongs. For Bawden it would have been less convenient, it’s likely he came direct from Essex and met Ravilious in Newhaven. They lodged at the Hope Inn, a pub on the side of the cliffs and with a sea view on the edge of the town.

While Eric set to work painting ‘close up shots’ of boats and the edges of piers, Bawden’s work looked more widescreen and panoramic. The works Bawden were painting was rather playful and modern, a range of odd perspectives seamed to challenge him, the boat at a strange angle, looking down a hillside and the litter of boats and yardware made for a really interesting series of works.

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 Edward Bawden – September Noon Newhaven, 1935

From Furlongs, Ravilious made trips to paint at Newhaven, spending a slightly gruelling August and September at the Hope Inn with Bawden in September 1935. Bawden painted a stormy sea breaking over harbour moles, but Ravilious preferred the Victorian paddle steamers and dredgers with fine names like ‘Brighton Queen’, ‘The James’ and ‘The Foremost Prince’ which worked from Brighton Pier in the summer and were laid up at Newhaven out of season. ♥

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 A montage of Edward Bawden’s picture and below a ‘lost’ Eric Ravilious painting of Newhaven, Dredgers, 1935. 

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 Edward Bawden – September: 8:30pm (Newhaven), 1935

Directly Eric got to Newhaven, a terrific storm blew up, the worst for years. He walked to the end of the jetty to look at the lighthouse: ‘The spray from the breakers crashing on the weather-side of the breakwater was a quite extraordinary sight – I got very wet and think now it was almost a dangerous walk out there, but worth it.

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 Edward Bawden – September: 11am, 1937

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 Edward Bawden – September: Noon 1937

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 Edward Bawden – Newhaven No. 2, 1935

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 Eric Ravilious – Channel Steamer Leaving, 1935

Below are a few views form old photographs and postcards of Newhaven around the same time and showing the things Eric painted below.

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 Photograph of Newhaven Harbour, c1930.

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 Postcard of Newhaven Harbour, c1900.

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 Photograph of the Signal Station and Lighthouse on Newhaven Pier, c1960

These photographs above have various views around the watercolour, lithograph and woodcut below. It would show Ravilious again using and cycling the same subject matter for various commissions.

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 Eric Ravilious – Newhaven Harbour, 1935

The painting above was bought from the Zwemmer Gallery by Beryl Sinclair, nee Bowker. She studied with Edward and Eric at the Royal College of Art. 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 painting – ‘Bowk at the sink’, 1929-30.

Newhaven Harbour is everything you would want from a 1930s watercolour. The buildings look like Oliver Hall modernist houses in white with cubes and curves but in fact is Victorian. The lighthouse was built in 1885 and pulled down in 1976. It looks like a stage set design. The rigging and black circles where part of a semaphore signal that shows when the tide is in and out to boats wanting to enter or leave the harbour.

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 Eric Ravilious – Newhaven Harbour (detail), 1935

When asked to produce a print for Contemporary Lithographs, Ravilious made what he called a Homage to Seurat, a print made of a spongy sky and the typical halftone lines of colour over layered.

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 Eric Ravilious – Newhaven Harbour, 1937 – Contemporary Lithographs.

When approached to illustrate the Country Life Cookery Book in the same year of the Lithograph above, Ravilious took the details of his previous works and added seafood and a basket of fish emblazoned with the name of the town.

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 Eric Ravilious – February, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

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 Edward Bawden – September: 7PM, 1937

Staying at The Hope Inn in 1935 must have been a bit dull. But the next year the building would be pulled down and in it’s place a totally modernist building put up.

Eric Neve K.C., on behalf of the Ports-all United Breweries, made an application for the approval plans of proposed alterations to the Hope Inn, Newhaven. He said this was a desire to improve the accommodation of the existing house.

In a letter to Eric, Edward writes:

Meals and service have brightened; gone are those soft, stale oyster-eyed eggs and there is is less water and more gravy with the meat. ♦

Below is a picture of the then, new Hope Inn. White and modernist. At the time Newhaven was a popular way of crossing the channel to France.

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 The Hope Inn, Newhaven, 1936

During the Second World War Ravilious became a War Artist and he found himself in Newhaven again to sketch and paint the coastal defences.

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 Eric Ravilious – Coastal Defences, 1940

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 Newhaven – Harbour Breakwater today. Closed from public access.

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 Eric Ravilious – Coastal Defences, Harbour Breakwater, 1940 

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 Eric Ravilious – Coastal Defences, Convoy Leaving Harbour, 1940

† Helen Binyon – Eric Ravilious: Memoir of an Artist, 1983
Sothebys – Eric Ravilious
Alan Powers – Eric Ravilious: Imagined Realities, 2012
 Sussex Agricultural Express – Friday 07 February 1936
Letter from Edward Bawden to Eric Ravilious, 1936

Edward Bawden – Aesop’s Fables

Aesop’s Fables has been a favourite with British illustrators ever since the mass publication of the edition in 1818 with woodcuts by Thomas Bewick. Bewick had first published a Selection of Fables in Three Parts in 1784. But these tales of ancient Greece have such humour and moral tales that they where a kind alternative to the bible for children.

Edward Bawden was a great reader and had an impressive library that he partly sold in grief in 1970 following the double whammy of the death of his wife and down-sizing home from Brick House in Great Bardfield to 2 Park Lane, Saffron Walden. He spent the next 10 years trying to acquire his favourite books back.

Bawden is called a celebrator of English humour and having grown up reading Edward Lear it might be why he thought the fables were a good subject matter, it is hard to say. He made one lino-print for the 1956 book ‘A handbook of type and design’ by John Lewis and maybe it had more mileage.

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 Edward Bawden – An Old Crab and a Young Crab, 1956

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 Edward Bawden – Hare and Tortoise, 1970

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 Edward Bawden – A Frog and an Ox, 1970

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 Edward Bawden – Daw in Borrowed Feathers, 1970

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 Edward Bawden – Peacock and Magpie, 1970

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 Edward Bawden – Frog, Mouse and Kite,  1970

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 Edward Bawden – Hares, Foxes and Eagles, 1970

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 Edward Bawden – Ant and Grasshopper, 1970

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 Edward Bawden – The Gnat and the Lion, 1970  

Why not a Tate East?

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 John Armstrong – Coggeshall Church, Essex, 1940 – Tate – Not on Display

When most people think of artists and where they paint – they think of St
Ives, Cornwall. The new Tate gallery there and its controversial Stirling Prize nominated extension have been both a help and hindrance to locals,  but maybe not the 24% of those in St Ives who are Second Home owners †. The same could be said for Margate and the Bilbao effect from the Turner Contemporary Tate Gallery there. The Tate has pushed tourist through Margate’s streets like air into lungs. In the East of England is where many of the country’s best loved artists lived, but sadly the East of England is rather poor when it comes to showing off their artists – so why not a branch of the Tate in Aldeburgh or Southwold or Colchester?

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 John Constable – Stoke-by-Nayland, 1811 – Tate – Not on Display

The famous East Anglian artists of old are John Crome, Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable. Crome was the most famous of the Norwich School of painters who were inspired by painters like Jacob van Ruisdael and the Dutch style. They painted the vast waterways, windmills and dykes of the fenland and Norfolk Broads. Crome also had many talented pupils. John Sell Cotman, one of the country’s best watercolour artists, was also part of this brew.

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 Alfred Munnings – From My Bedroom Window, 1930 – Tate, Not on Display

John Constable painted the Dedham Vale in Suffolk and, most famously, Flatford Mill. A brisk walk away is the Museum and former home of Alfred Munnings. Also in Dedham was the original home of Cedric Morris’s East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing, but when it burnt down (John Nash told Ronald Blythe ‡) Munnings drove around the village like Mr Toad shouting ‘Down with modern art’. Cedric Morris then bought Benton End from Alfred Sainsbury in 1939 and continued his art school with his life partner, Arthur Lett-Haines. Lucien Freud, Maggi Hambling, Lucy Harwood, Valerie Thornton and Olive Cook all studied there.

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 Cedric Morris – Iris Seedlings, 1943 – Tate – Not on Display

In 1940 after his London home suffered bomb damage, the sculptor Henry Moore made his home in Perry Green, just south of Much Hadham. It is now a museum with a collection of his works in the grounds. Moore walked around the local fields picking up pieces of flint thrown aside from ploughing and in his studio he would draw them as pre-made organic sculpture. Moore called them his ‘library of natural forms’ and they would inspire his larger works.

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 Henry Moore – Seated Woman, 1957 – Tate – Not On Display

John Piper in the 80s made a beautiful series of ruined churches of East Anglia. In 1934, at Ivon Hitchens cottage in Sizewell, Suffolk, Piper met his wife Myfanwy Evens. They married in 1937. Myfanwy worked with Benjamin Britten writing lyrics to his operas including Death in Venice. Britten lived in Aldeburgh with his partner Peter Pears. Piper would design many of the stage sets.

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 John Piper – Covehithe Church, 1983 – Tate – Not On Display

On the other side of Colchester in 1944, war artist John Nash was restoring the Elizabethan Bottengoms Farm, moving in with his wife Christine Kühlenthal. Christine had studied at the Slade school of art alongside Dora Carrington, Mark Gertler and she worked at the Omega Workshops while John had become famous for his monumental paintings of the First World War alongside his brother Paul. At Bottengoms, John became famous for his landscape paintings and botanical studies. He taught at Colchester School of Art with Richard ‘Dickie’ Chopping, an artist known for his dust jackets for Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. Dickie lived with his lover, another landscape painter, Denis Wirth-Miller. Their life with Francis Bacon has been expertly documented in Jon Lys Turner’s ‘The Visitors’ Book’. Bacon owned a home in Wivenhoe as did Dickie and Denis.

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 John Nash – Mill Building, Boxted, 1962 – Tate – Not On Display

Also on the staff at Colchester was John o’Connor, a wood-engraver and landscape painter. He was once the pupil of both Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious at the Royal College of Art. Bawden and Ravilious where renting part of Brick House in Great Bardfield, Essex, when Ravilious moved a few miles away to Castle Hedingham with his painter wife Tirzah. Bawden and his Leach Pottery student wife Charlotte bought Brick House. Both men became war artists and only Bawden returned from the conflict after painting the early war, including Dunkirk. He was also shipwrecked off the coast of Africa, rescued and imprisoned by Vichy French forces, liberated by the Americans and then off again to paint the campaigns in Africa and Iraq. Eric died in 1942 when the aircraft he was in was lost off Iceland. Ravilious used the Essex area profusely in his short life there in
wood-engravings and watercolours.

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 Eric Ravilious – Tiger Moth, 1942 – Tate – Not on Display

Around the village of Great Bardfield, Bawden was joined by John Aldridge (a landscape painter), Walter Hoyle (one of Bawden’s students who helped Bawden on work at the Festival of Britain) and Michael Rothenstein (the pioneer printmaker and brother to the Director of the Tate Gallery). Other artists in the village were George Chapman, Bernard Cheese, Stanley Clifford-Smith, Audrey Cruddas, Sheila Robinson and Kenneth Rowntree.

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 John Aldridge – Head and Fruit, 1930 – Tate – Not on Display

In the small hamlet of Landermere – on the coastland of Essex – lived Adrian and Karin Stephen with their daughter Judith. Adrian was the younger brother of Virginia Wolfe and Vanessa Bell. After her parents death Judith lived on in their house with her husband and Independent Group member, Nigel Henderson. Also in Landermere they were joined by Eduardo Paolozzi who owned one of the cottages and set up Hammer Prints Limited, a company for printing limited edition works and designing abstract home wares such as wallpapers and tiles. Neighbours in the hamlet were architect Basil Spence and Festival of Britain artist and Coventry Cathedral glass engraver, John Hutton, as well as his son, children’s book illustrator Warwick.

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 Eduardo Paolozzi – Cyclops, 1957 – Tate – Not on Display

The Stephens were not the only Bloomsbury members to be in the East. David Garnett, his lover Duncan Grant, and Grants wife Vanessa Bell were all staying at Wissett Lodge, Suffolk in the summer of 1916 as conscientious objectors, working on a farm, though Vanessa is the one who got the most painting done.

With the boom in British publishing many of these artists enjoyed illustration commissions, from the cookery books of Ravilious and Bawden to poetry books decorated by John Piper and gardening books illustrated by John Nash.

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 Spencer Gore – The Beanfield, Letchworth, 1912 – Tate – Not On Display

Naturally there are names left out but there are too many artists to list. But why are they so poorly represented in the region? In the East there is the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and Kettles Yard but neither of these galleries aim to promote the work of East Anglian artists, but rather the international collections of the Sainsbury family and Jim Ede. They both do a lot of good for the local economy but it’s not the same as championing the area’s artists.

The nearest to it is the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden, but their manifesto only lets them collect work from artists who have lived in North West part of Essex. But for all of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk there should be a body to represent them.

There are so many other artists that could be liberated from the Tate and their archives and put on show to support and promote the region where they were created. At the time of publishing, all the artworks in this blog  owned by the Tate were not on display.

† https://www.cornwalllive.com/news/cornwall-news/cornwall-second-homes-plague-revealed-1398388
A Broad Canvas – Ian Collins 1999 – From the Foward by Ronald
Blythe, p6.

Edward Bawden in Norfolk

There is nothing I have found that Bawden said in favour of Norfolk that would make this post become more interesting than me presenting some of his works to you. The works I have found showed that when he visited a place he painted it from various angles. I think all of these works were painted in the late 1960s as Bawden had an exhibition at The Fine Art Society in November of 1968 of paintings from Ireland, the Middle East and Norfolk.

The Church of St Michael The Archangel in Booton, about 10 miles drive from Aylsham is an architectural marvel that you don’t see in Britain. Designed in French Gothic style with pinnacles and two towers it might be a small set from Lord of the Rings.

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 The Church of St. Michael The Archangel, Booton, Norfolk,

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 Edward Bawden – Design for The Church of St. Michael The Archangel, Booton, Norfolk, 1966

The painting below I rather like for its bold outline painting, but more for the shade of foliage to the left and white church stone in front, the church is painted  in a gradient from white on the left, to black flints on the right.

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 Edward Bawden – The Church of St. Michael The Archangel, Booton, Norfolk, 1966

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 Edward Bawden – The Church of St. Michael The Archangel, Booton, Norfolk, 1966

Worstead Church is signed but looks more unfinished. It has the hints of a John Piper in the colour blotting and slight unfinished abstraction, though this may be because it mostly was unfinished.

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 Edward Bawden – Worstead Church, 1966

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 Edward Bawden – Worstead Church, 1966

Above a detail section of the Church that makes Bawden’s linocuts so wonderful; He takes a section out of scenes when making them into linocuts (on the Road To Thaxsted is a good example where he has cropped the picture with part of the Cottage roof but did not show the whole scene. If all the cottage was to appear it would look very twee). Bawden has also cut grooved grass, and a wild hacking of the lino made the distress on the building. Its printing in such a dark blue it looks like a negative image from film and to be a little provocative, I have inverted the image as a negative below.. I think it looks more pleasing, more like an Ed Kluz, though Edward wouldn’t thought much to my meddling!

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 after Edward Bawden – Worstead Church, 1966 (Inverted image)

The following images are Bawden as a good watercolour artist, using a wash on the grass and then a darker series of lines, the sky made up of geometric clouds and the trees inked out in pen and filled in with a broad green wash in a grey of the church and a green.

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 Edward Bawden – St Mary’s Church, Marlingford, Norfolk.

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 Edward Bawden – St Mary’s, Marlingford IV, 1968

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 Edward Bawden – The Churches of All Saints and St Mary’s, Great Melton, Norfolk, 1968

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 Edward Bawden – Little Melton Church, Norfolk, 1968

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 Edward Bawden – North Creake Abbey – Interior, Norfolk, 1967

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 Edward Bawden – Birnham Priory, Norfolk, 1968

 Original Advert for the Fine Art Society Exhibition.

To see my post on Edward Bawden in King’s Lynn, click here.

AIA Gallery

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.  

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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

Bardfield Cookery Collection – Vol II – Bawden and Heath

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Cookery books are always important social documents, not just for tastes in eating but also for who will be doing the cooking. In the 1930s when more ladies of the house were doing the cooking and not the staff, cookbooks became more about budget, health and economy than the Victorian grandiose books for how to have your staff prepare a banquet. The bookends for the 1930s where the Great Depression and WW2, both had an effect in Britain and publishing. The Government would produce various cook books to promote health in a population with limited budget or ingredients to get the vitamins they needed. Publishing too had become cheaper and books more affordable. In these conditions the start of a suburban cookbook caught the publishers attention.

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In this post are the books by Ambrose Heath showing various simple designs by Edward Bawden. The dust jacket and book-boards have a two-colour design in linocut and the internal pages are illustrated with black and white pen and ink studies.

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I think part of the charm the books had Bawden illustrated was the playful and primitive look. Linocut is a medium that has had a bumpy road in the acceptance of art. Invented as a type of flooring in the 1860s, various artists used it for its printing quality and ease of carving, however detail couldn’t be applied to a linocut without many over-impressions, and the artists who did champion it in the 1920s made abstract works, like Sybil Andrews and many at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art. Books on how to make linocuts were popular such as Claude Flight’s own monograph, but many imitations came after and those books were aimed at the amateur artists or children.

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Edward Bawden’s works for linocut are the start of a lifelong pursuit of the medium. Unlike most people who try to start with linocut he saw the trick was to make the items oversized. Detail is for wood-engraving but with linocut it is better to be obvious. The soup-terrine or salt pot are large and simple but also beautiful compared to what cookery books looked like before. The standard type for a cookery book cover would have been a black and white photo of the author or a depressingly garish line drawing, embossed into wine-red cloth in gold, I am thinking of Mrs Beeton.

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 Edward Bawden – Front Cover for Good Food, 1932 

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 Edward Bawden – Title Page for Good Food, 1932

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 Edward Bawden – Front Cover for More Good Food, 1933 

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 Edward Bawden – Rear Cover for More Good Food, 1933

What also is telling of an attention to quality in these books is that when Good Food and More Good Food were published, they are described as being ‘Decorated by Edward Bawden’ rather than illustrated, a subtle difference but I think it was the start of a change to how people illustrated cookery books.

I rather thought that as with most cases the author would have little to do with the designs of the cover or even be able to approve them, but in this case there is a letter from Ambrose Heath to Bawden:

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My dear Bawden,
I must write and say how charming I find the cover and title page for Good Savouries. I wish the contents were as good as the latter which I think is quite one of the best things I have seen of yours in this line. I was most sporting of you to present it to Faber, and me, as I hear you have done.
 †

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 Edward Bawden – Front Cover for Good Food On The Aga, 1933

Ambrose Heath didn’t just write on the subject of AGA cookery; he was a passionate AGA cook himself. A 1933 AGA brochure stated: “For many
months now Mr Ambrose Heath has done his own cooking and tested his professional recipes on an AGA Cooker, and his enthusiasm is unbounded for the AGA cooker’s cooking efficiency. “He explains the various improvements made possible by AGA cooking and the difference in method due to the principle of AGA Heat Storage. He emphasises especially the enormously increased leisure which the AGA affords the Cook.”

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 Edward Bawden – Title Page for Good Food On The Aga, 1933

A steady job for Bawden during the thirties was decorating the Good Food guides by Ambrose Heath, published by Faber and Faber. There were ten of these with a dozen line-drawn illustrations inside, and a witty linocut cover, each with superbly inventive margins, different lettering styles and a central illustration – for example, Good Soups has a bird picking the peas from a pod and Good Savouries has a skeleton fowl contemplating a skeleton fish on a plate, elsewhere you might see flies on the crumbs or find mice in the cheese.

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 Edward Bawden – Front Cover for Good Savouries, 1934 

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 Edward Bawden – Title Page for Good Savouries, 1934

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 Edward Bawden – Rear Cover for Good Savouries, 1934

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 Edward Bawden – Front Cover for Good Soups, 1935

Good Soups is my favourite of all the books for the illustration of geometric patterns and inside the pen and ink drawings are often mistaken for linocut illustrations too.

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 Edward Bawden – Title Page for Good Soups, 1935

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 Edward Bawden – Rear Cover for Good Soups, 1935

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 Edward Bawden – Front Cover for Good Potato Dishes, 1935

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 Edward Bawden – Title Page for Good Potato Dishes, 1935

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 Edward Bawden – Rear Cover for Good Potato Dishes, 1935

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 Edward Bawden – Front Cover for Good Sweets, 1937

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 Edward Bawden – Title Page for Good Sweets, 1937

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 Edward Bawden – Rear Cover for Good Sweets, 1937

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 Edward Bawden – Front Cover for Vegetable Dishes & Salads, 1938

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 Edward Bawden – Title Page for Vegetable Dishes & Salads, 1938

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 Edward Bawden – Rear Cover for Vegetable Dishes & Salads, 1938

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 Edward Bawden – Front Cover for Good Drinks, 1939

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 Edward Bawden – Title Cover for Good Drinks, 1939

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 Edward Bawden – Rear Cover for Good Drinks, 1939

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 Edward Bawden – Front Cover for Good Food Without Meat, 1940

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 Edward Bawden – Title Page for Good Food Without Meat, 1940

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 Edward Bawden – Rear Cover for Good Food Without Meat, 1940

† Letter to Edward Bawden from Ambrose Heath, 31st May 1934.
How The Aga Cooker Became An Icon, 2013, p32
♠ Malcolm Yorke – Edward Bawden and His Circle, 2007, p74

Bardfield Cookery Collection – Vol I – Eric Ravilious

This is the first part in a series of posts I have been working on about the cookery books made by artists of Great Bardfield. This first volume is on Eric Ravilious. 

Eric William Ravilious (22 July 1903 – 2 September 1942) was an English painter, designer, book illustrator and wood-engraver. He grew up in East Sussex, and is particularly known for his watercolours of the South Downs and other English landscapes, which examine English landscape and vernacular art with an off-kilter, modernist sensibility and clarity. He served as a war artist, and died when the aircraft he was in was lost off Iceland. ◊

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 Dust Jacket for The Country Life Cookery Book by Ambrose Heath, 1937 

The Country Life Cookery Book was published in 1937 and illustrated by Eric Ravilious. Country Life to some may just be the magazine, but at this point in  history they were a major publisher about architecture, craft and a style of country life that would appeal to the new middle and upper classes of Britain. The publications normally contained lots of high quality photography.

In the same year as the Cookery Book was published were many other books, here are a few others for adults: Where To Catch Salmon And Trout, Elements Of Stabling, Morning Flight A Book Of Wildfowl, Gun For Company, Victorian Street Ballads. For children there were: Skilled Horsemanship, The Golden Knight and Other Stories, Peter & Co, Knight in Africa and Rajah the Elephant… as part of the ‘Junior Country Life Library’. 

The books are countryside propaganda in the age of travel by train, omnibus, charabanc and car. They were promoting Britain in the way they wanted to see it. It is fair to say when people talk about the ‘Golden Nineteen-Thirties’ that Country Life had a great deal in the legend.


The Title-Page

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 Eric Ravilious – Title-page of the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

We know Ravilious got the commission for the cookery book in July 1936 as he wrote in this letter to Helen Binyon: 

This book is now begun and begins to be promising. 

The wood-engravings follow a seasonal theme, month by month rather than chapters on food or following the text – this calendar style is like the other Ambrose Heath books for Faber & Faber that Edward Bawden had illustrated for the previous five years. Only 12 blocks were cut by Ravilious for the in the book, so with the title page decoration, two of the months (January & December) used the same image. One can only assume this was how many images they thought they needed and so how many images they paid for.

Having the chapters as seasonal months would also hurry the project along from the illustration front – as in April of 1937, nine months later, Ravilious wrote to Binyon:

I don’t believe Heath has written his text yet.

But not having the text as a guide would mean Ravilious could invent the illustrations from his mind and use past works. He worked on the illustrations from July 1936 – February 1937 while taking on other commissioned work and finishing a series of watercolours. 

Below is the title page wood-engraving of a framed cornucopia, a wheat-sheaf and food produce. This illustration is a reject from another job. 

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 Eric Ravilious – Title-page (Harvest Festival), Wood-engraving for the Cornhill Magazine, 1936 

Ravilious was completing a commission for The Cornhill Magazine in the later part of 1936 and the project overlapped with the Cookery Book. So when one of the wood engravings was rejected by John Murray (editor of The Cornhill) he used it on the cookery book. I thought this engraving was a bit surreal and over the top until I discovered a drawing of it below. 

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 Eric Ravilious – Harvest Festival and Loaves, 1936

I’ve been drawing the bread table in the church – dead and fancy loaves, barley and corn, apples and eggs – and I  thought it too beautiful not to place on record. ♠

Having been rejected for one job Ravilious cut away the framed backdrop of the table and submitted the wood-engraving below for the Cookery Book project instead.

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 Eric Ravilious – Title-page (Harvest Festival), Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937 

Below is another woodblock based on the same image made for The Writings of Gilbert White of Selborne in 1938. It’s a new version and not an edited restrike. Likely cut in 1937 as the job was commissioned in May of that year and the book published in 1938. 

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 Eric Ravilious – (Harvest Festival), Wood-engraving for The Writings of Gilbert White of Selborne in 1938


January and December

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 Eric Ravilious – January & December, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

January & December is the block that is used twice in the cookery book. 

Ravilious would also find inspiration in the past. He owned a copy of The Frugal Housewife published by J Fairburn, 1838 and below is the meat guide on animals. I think this Ravilious woodcut is one of the defining moments in cookery illustration and helped re-popularise this old fashion key to animal flesh. The meat guide is now a typical image to see in cookery books to educate what meats can be gained from an animal. It is used three times in this book. He mentions the idea to use old cookery books below:

I’ve had what you would call a cleaver idea, and Mrs Beeton has been a help. 

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 Frontispiece – The Frugal Housewife, J. Fairburn, 1838


February 

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 Eric Ravilious – February, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

In the August of 1935 Edward Bawden and Ravilious went on a painting trip to Newhaven and in the wood-engraving above, the basket of fish emblazoned with the name of the town.

The idea for the wood engraving would also pop up again in another format, this time a print for Contemporary Lithographs, a company working with artists to make large runs of lithographic prints that would be cheap for the public to buy from the Zwemmer Gallery. Below is one of the watercolours from 1935 that could have been the inspiration for the commission. (The watercolour was also sold via Zwemmer Gallery).

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 Eric Ravilious – Newhaven Harbour, 1935 

The print that Ravilious completed is very similar to the Cookery Book print as the jobs overlapped. The official title of the print is Newhaven Harbour but Eric referred to the print as ‘Homage to Seurat’. Helen Binyon wrote that the print has a:

scene of sensitive clarity and beautiful luminosity ♦

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 Eric Ravilious – Newhaven Harbour, Contemporary Lithographs Ltd, 1937

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 Eric Ravilious – February, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937


March

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 Eric Ravilious – March, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

A pig surrounded by the fruit of choice, apples, and to the left of the wood-engraving a garden sieve with berries upon it. The watercolour below comes from the same year as the Cookery Book’s commission, but is now one of the lost paintings of Ravilious, it was also damaged when last seen having had the top left corner ripped and creased. 

Trugs with Fruit is a lost watercolour by Eric Ravilious, damaged. In the corner it may have been framed and sold or just disregarded and thrown away, but it appears in the wood engraving in this commission for John G Murray, editor of the Cornhill Magazine. It was made for publicity for the Magazine but so far has only ever been seen on the compliment slips they had for a short time.

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 Eric Ravilious – Trugs with Fruit, 1936


April

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 Eric Ravilious – April, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

Rather like the Title Page, the wood engraving for April came at the same time as the Cornhill Magazine commission. Below is a watercolour, now presumed lost of trugs of fruit and the same trug appears in the wood engraving next to a glass of mint – these are red currents and mint, said to be the good sauces for Lamb.

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 Eric Ravilious – Trugs with Fruit, 1936

The wood-engraving below would have been copied from the painting and in the printing process it appears reversed, it comes with the same cornucopia from the title-page engraving. 

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 Eric Ravilious – Autumn Fruits, 1936

And here you can see the wood-engraving in use on the Cornhill Magazine compliment slip.

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 Eric Ravilious – Cornhill Magazine Complement Slip with Autumn Fruits, 1936


May

The wood-engraving for May looks to be the most original of all of the illustrations, I can’t think of having seen any element in past work.

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 Eric Ravilious – May, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937


June

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 Eric Ravilious – June, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

The June illustration features a bee-hive. A variation of the image would be used two years later on The Garden Implements Jug that was also designed by Ravilious for Wedgwood. The bottom most vignette. 

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 Wedgwood Garden Implements Jug, 1939


July

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 Eric Ravilious – July, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

The wood-engraving for July has roots in many places. The finished wood block has a hat, cornucopia of pears, a hat on the backdrop of hills and cornstooks. In an early drawing for the wood-block the hat is in the same place (reversed when printed) but many of the other elements have changed.   

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 Eric Ravilious – Proposed July Block, Drawing made on tracing paper for woodblock, (reversed for printing), 1936

It is likely that the print Ravilious drew out was inspired by the Harvest theme of the month he was illustrating and he looked back on older work. Below the wood engraving from 1934 is one of many Curwen Press Stock Blocks. They are woodblocks and prints the press has paid artists to make so they can be used without the need to hire an illustrator for a job, so production times can be quicker and still have illustrated items.

The tree and setting of cornstooks reminded me of the drawing he made above and even the way the stooks flow uphill.

Eric Ravilious – July, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

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 Eric Ravilious – Curwen Press Stock Block 985, 1936

The booklet the block was used upon happened to be called Spectator Harvest, for the Spectator Magazine. 

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 Spectator Harvest, 1952

It was also re-cut in mirror image for The Writings of Gilbert White of Selborne in 1938.

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 Eric Ravilious – Selborne Tailpiece Volume 2, 1938

But back to the cookery book – the cornucopia below (that appeared next to a hat and a baguette) has been seen before in this post – in the wood-engraving in use on the Cornhill Magazine compliment slip.

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 Eric Ravilious – July, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

One above the other, it isn’t hard to see a link.

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 Eric Ravilious – Autumn Fruits, 1936


August

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Eric Ravilious – August, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

For the August vignette Ravilious chose to illustrate the garden of Brick House in Great Bardfield. Ravilious and his wife Tirzah had shared the house with Edward Bawden and his wife Charlotte from 1932 until 1935 when the Raviliouses moved to near-by Castle Hedingham. 

In 1936 Bawden painted the garden in the winter of the Cookery Book commission showing the wood gazebo that was up in 1932 as it was a wedding gift from Eric and Tirzah to Edward and Charlotte. The arches must have been added between then, around 1936. 

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 Edward Bawden, February 2pm, 1936

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 Eric Ravilious – The Garden Path, 1933

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 Eric Ravilious – August – Drawing made on tracing paper for woodblock, 1936 (reversed for printing)


September

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 Eric Ravilious – September, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

The illustration for September shows the game shooting season and a brace of birds, maybe a goose to the left and pheasants to the right in front of a country lane. Below is the original trace drawing for the block, reversed for printing. 

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 Eric Ravilious – September, Drawing made on tracing paper for woodblock, (reversed for printing), 1936

Followers of my blog would not be surprised to see that the illustration bears a similarity to another one, the wood-engraving for London Transport, this is confirmed in a letter to Helen Binyon again:

The jobs, cookery and Green Line advertisements – are all done and sent off and very glad am I that hard work is finished.

Counter to the letter I can’t find another reference to them in print.

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 Eric Ravilious – The Shepard, 1936

The Shepard is one of the most lively engravings that Ravilious made for London Transport. The Sheep and their ears with the hillside up to the house are pleasing. The technicality of the halftone shading are some of his best. ♥

The Cookery Books version of the engraving is more detailed, I think because the printing was likely to be finer than the press adverts the London Transport one would be reproduced in.

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 Eric Ravilious – September, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937


October

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 Eric Ravilious – October, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

October sees kitchen items, a jug, copper jelly mould stacked mixing bowls and baking trays with two jars of preserved items.


November

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 Eric Ravilious – November, Wood-engraving for the Country Life Cookery Book, 1937

The last work of a chicken farm and a turkey with wheelbarrow gives the Christmas feeling and may have been marked to have been the December illustration but January’s wood-engraving was also used as December.

Eric Ravilious to Helen Binyon – 19th July, 1936
Eric Ravilious to Helen Binyon – 14th April, 1937
Eric Ravilious to Helen Binton – 6th October, 1936
Eric Ravilious to Helen Binyon – 17th August (1936) 
Helen Binyon – Eric Ravilious: Memoir of an Artist, 2016
♥ Robjn Cantus – A Journey of London Transport with Eric Ravilious, 2018
◊ Wikipedia – Eric Ravilious