The de Lank Quarry Cornwall

One of the nicer parts of my researches into the histories of Edward Bawden and John Nash is looking at the works they created on holiday together. As artists visiting a place together it seems they would look at a subject (the bridge at Ironbridge) and wonder around to get a perspective that pleased them both. Here with the Quarry I would imagine they had less opportunity to wander about, as it was then and is still now, a working Quarry. This has given a forced subject and view. I find it interesting how they both have translated it into a painting.

image

On five occasions we shared a painting expedition in Wales, on the Gower Peninsula & again near Haverfordwest at Littlehaven; in Cornwall during a cold wet spell of misery in the De Lank Quarry at Blisland; at Dunwich in Suffolk & in Shropshire at Ironbridge. †

Located near Blisland, not far from Bodmin, the De Lank Granite Quarry was a particularly engaging subject for Bawden as, ‘unlike many granite quarries on or near the moors it is still being actively worked, & for that reason retains an interest that others have lost

The forced perspective of where it was safe to paint gives an interesting view to how both Nash and Bawden worked. I like mostly the blash pressure and fuel tank behind the workers hut on the crane.

image

 Edward Bawden – The De Lank quarry no.2 , 1960

image

 John Nash – The De Lank Quarry, Cornwall, 1960

image

 John Nash – The De Lank Quarry at Blisland, Cornwall , 1960

The paintings below likely were made on the same trip, Sharp Tor was exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 1960 and The De Lank River, De Lank Quarry No 2 and The Engine House all exhibited in the 1961 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. The last two – likely worked upon in Bawden’s studio – are sad gloomy images.

image

 Edward Bawden – Sharp Tor, Cornwall, 1960

image

 Edward Bawden – The De Lank River, Cornwall, 1960

image

 Edward Bawden – The Engine House, Cornwall, 1960

Edward Bawden to John Rothenstein, 24th April, 1979.
Letter from Edward Bawden, 12 July 1961

You are the Quarry

The painting series by Bawden named as ‘Pengwern’ is really in ‘Dyserth’ in Wales. The limestone quarry is in the hills above Dyserth in Denbighshire and it was closed in the 1980s.

Bawden’s paintings capture a curious geometry in the landscape with the sides of the quarry looking like large pieces of flint. Paintings two and three are the same view so are interesting to compare. At this time Bawden would start the paintings off with a drawing and then finish them in the hotel or at his Saffron Walden studio.

image

Edward Bawden – Quarry at Pengwern I, Llanrwst, 1977

image

Edward Bawden – Quarry at Pengwern II, Llanrwst, 1977

image

Edward Bawden – Quarry at Pengwern III, Llanrwst, 1977

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. 

image

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.

image

 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.

image

 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’.

image

John Nash – Ironbridge through the Bridge, Gridded study.

image

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. 

image

John Nash – Ironbridge, Shropshire.

image

 Edward Bawden – Ironbridge Church, 1956

image

 Edward Bawden – The House at Ironbridge, 1956

image

 Edward Bawden – Iron Bridge, 1956

image

 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.

image

 John Aldridge – Ironbridge, 1956

image

 John Aldridge – Ironbridge III, 1956

image

 John Aldridge – Garden in Ironbridge, 1956

image

 Carel Weight – Ironbridge, 1957

Tate – T00206
Letter from John Nash to John Lewis

Edward & Eric in Newhaven

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

 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. ♥

image

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

image

 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.

image

 Edward Bawden – September: 11am, 1937

image

 Edward Bawden – September: Noon 1937

image

 Edward Bawden – Newhaven No. 2, 1935

image

 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.

image

 Photograph of Newhaven Harbour, c1930.

image

 Postcard of Newhaven Harbour, c1900.

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

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

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Coastal Defences, 1940

image

 Newhaven – Harbour Breakwater today. Closed from public access.

image

 Eric Ravilious – Coastal Defences, Harbour Breakwater, 1940 

image

 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.

image

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

image

 Edward Bawden – Hare and Tortoise, 1970

image

 Edward Bawden – A Frog and an Ox, 1970

image

 Edward Bawden – Daw in Borrowed Feathers, 1970

image

 Edward Bawden – Peacock and Magpie, 1970

image

 Edward Bawden – Frog, Mouse and Kite,  1970

image

 Edward Bawden – Hares, Foxes and Eagles, 1970

image

 Edward Bawden – Ant and Grasshopper, 1970

image

 Edward Bawden – The Gnat and the Lion, 1970  

Why not a Tate East?

image

 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?

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

 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.

image

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

image

 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.

image

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

image

 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.

image

 Edward Bawden – Worstead Church, 1966

image

 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!

image

 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.

image

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

image

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

image

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

image

 Edward Bawden – Little Melton Church, Norfolk, 1968

image

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

image

 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.  

image

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