Some time ago I was asked the location of Essex Farmyard print by John Aldridge. This lithograph was made for the Society of Painter-Printmakers and exhibited as number 27 in the catalogue for the 1948 exhibition. The key to the identification was finding a painting of the same view while writing a post-script for Lucie’s book. It was a painting from 1939 of Grove Farm, Farmyard, Oxen End, Little Bardfield.
John Aldridge – The Grove Farmyard, 1939
The oil painting above was exhibited at Leicester Galleries, 1940, as with the watercolour study below you cans see the farmyard and the sheds, when printed the image is reversed and that’s why the print is a mirror image.
John Aldridge – (The Grove Farmyard) Essex Farmyard, 1948
Below is a photograph of the house today and part of the farmyard. This is from the local historical society:
Grove Farm was owned by the Adams family who owned other properties in Oxen End. An accident with a steam engine cable severely damaged Mr Adams’ legs. They built a bungalow and then sold Grove House.
The Crossman-Adams family owned the property as well as Crossman House in Braintree. Some of the family still live in Great Bardfield.
In 1969 Mrs Tennant of the Tennant brewery family owned Grove Farm.
Grove Farm, from Google Maps.
This is a drawing in the Fry Gallery collection, likely from 1939 when Aldridge was studying for the painting.
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.
Here is more Great Bardfield paper paraphernalia, this time the New Scientist magazine covers by Chloë Cheese. There maybe more but so far I have only noticed three, but I think it’s a good example of a bold editor making the magazine look more colourful. I am guessing because they don’t have headlines all over the magazine cover, that it was also because most of their stock was sold from mail subscription – rather than newsagents, this would mean they can be bolder with their covers.
Chloë is the daughter of Bardfield artists Bernard Cheese and Sheila Robinson. She trained at Cambridge School of Art and the Royal College of Art 1973-76 under Walter Hoyle and Warwick Hutton. She works mainly as an illustrator and printmaker and it is amazing the places her work pops up in. In 1985 the British Council organised a Touring Exhibition entitled “British Illustrators from Caxton to Chlöe”.
The Christmas edition below has a full cover on the front and rear.
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.
Last week, in a box outside a bookshop I found this book for a pound. It is the The Countrywoman’s Year, 1960. Paid for by the Women’s Institute, it is a curious book of crafts, recipes, instruction and advice on making wine, beekeeping, growing indoor plants and all the mumsey crafts of made-do-and-mend. Why it is singled out to appear on my blog? Because it is peppered with Eric Ravilious illustrations. I am unsure how, or why, but I would guess that the illustrations were in the sample books of the Curwen Press and in those days you had books of designs and devices used by the press, as well as typographic books too, a high class version of clipart.
The title page image is a thresholded image of Raviliouses design for Wedgwood’s Garden design. Appearing on a soup bowl, the print likely taken from the transfer plate would have been reversed as in the book.
The image below appears on the back of the contents is The Village, for the cover of a journal by the National Council of Social Science, 1933.
Below is a design for Wedgwood again, but this time for a Lemonade set in 1939. You can see how the image appeared on the jug when it was first released and how it looks without the enamel colouring over the top.
The baking kitchen scene is a December Headpiece to a calendar in The Twelve Months, by Nicholas Breton, ed. Brian Rhys and published by the Golden Cockerel Press, 1927. The image below of the dustpan is from the same book and is the headpiece for February.
The block below of pancakes in a pan is from the Kynoch Diary 1933 that Ravilious illustrated in 1932, it’s title is Block 122. The book is below.
Below is another block from the Kynoch Notebook, this time, Block 110
Kynoch Press, 1933 illustrated by Eric Ravilious.
The illustration for summer is a larger version of the title page image, and the illustration as previously seen for Wedgwood’s Garden plates.
The illustration by Eric Ravilious below was originally used for the Country Life Cookery Book, June, 1937.
The wood engraving below was a bit of a mystery, I thought it was Ravilious but it wasn’t in any of the reference books on him (Greenwood) and it was identified by David Wakefield as being a wood engraving for a Apple box label for the Ministry of Agriculture in 1934. In 2018 it was published in the ‘Eric Ravilious Scrapbooks‘.
For the chapter ‘Painting for Pleasure‘ uses part of the cover to the BBC Radio Talks Pamphlet on British Art. January 14th – February 18th, 1934.
Eric Ravilious – BBC Radio Talks Pamphlet on British Art, 1934
The wood-engraving used above can be seen below, called Two Cows and was used for the cover of a London Transport Walking and touring guide.
1936 cover to Country Walks, 3rd Series with a Ravilious Design of Two Cows.
Below you can see the work re-cycled into a watercolour also named Two Cows. Here keeping the study of a cow in the same pose and doubling it, both cows are the same tracing but coloured differently.
Eric Ravilious – Two Cows, 1936, The Fry Gallery
Above and below are both from the Country Life Cookery Book, July (above) and October (below), 1937.
The last little wood engraving was a projected design for a book plate but looks to illustrate a chocolate log and christmas pudding,
Eric Ravilious – Projected Bookplate, 1937
The editor of the book was Elizabeth Shirley Vaughan Paget, Marchioness of Anglesey, DBE, LVO, Shirley Morgan began her career in the Foreign Office as personal secretary to Gladwyn Jebb until her marriage to Lord Anglesey in 1949. As Marchioness of Anglesey, she served as President of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes 1966–1969, a board member of the British Council 1985–1995, chairman of the Broadcasting Complaints Commission 1987–1991, and vice-chairman of the Museums and Galleries Commission 1989–1996.
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.
Stanley Clifford Smith at home in Great Bardfield in the 50s
It is a sad fact that histories are penned by the winners, or the people left to write it. In the case of the Great Bardfield artists that history was left to Olive Cook. When the Fry Art Gallery was set up in 1986 she wrote the history of the local artists and for about 10 years that version of the truth was printed and reprinted. It has now thankfully been corrected now but with more time on my hands I went back to the original copies of their visitors guides and found she had erased Stanley Clifford-Smith totally. It might have been due to the Fry Art Gallery not owning any of his work at the time they opened. But history can be uncovered and re-penned (and as I mentioned, has been). This happened to some lengths when Stanley’s son, Silas Clifford-Smith wrote ‘Under moon-light’ a biography his of father and his mother Joan Glass.
Joan Glass – The Reflected Gardener
Stanley Clifford-Smith, known mostly as Clifford, was three years younger than Bawden and had four children by the time he moved to Great Bardfield. When young, Clifford was partly raised and schooled in Paris as his father was working there. As a child he had seen Debussy perform Clair de Lune and the composer came to their home for dinner. He had served in the Navy during the war as a navigation officer and lived in various properties in East Anglia, focusing on painting and designing textiles with his wife. Joan Clifford-Smith (née Glass) worked under her maiden name. She had studied at Chelsea Polytechnic under Graham Sutherland and one of the life models was Quentin Crisp. At Chelsea she started designing textiles and selling designs to carpet manufacturers. During the war she joined the Wrens and worked in the BBC Canteen.
Joan and Stanley married in Newmarket in 1946, and in 1952 they moved to Buck House, Great Bardfield and later the Old Bakery opposite Edward Bawden’s Brick House. Unlike the artists in St Ives that tended to influence each other, these Essex artists all had different styles and influences. John Aldridge being a traditional painter, Bawden more comic and print based, Rothenstein taking abstraction to it’s limits and becoming more like Britains Picasso, and then George Chapman who’s modernist welsh pictures looked rather alien in the East of England and also favoured etchings. Clifford was the most experimental painter of the village (Rothenstein being the most experimental printmaker) and his style was inspired by French painters and Expressionism, but like all the artists, translated it into his style.
Stanley Clifford-Smith – Clair de la lune, 1965
This small Essex village in the 1950s and 60s became a refuge for artists who had moved out of London when looking to start a family, but where still working in the city, mostly as art teachers and found it easy to commute back and forth. Having so many artists in a small location, the village applied for a money to have an art exhibition as part of the 1951 Festival of Britain arts grant. They got the money, had the exhibition and found it to be so successful that they wanted to do one again in 1954, and these became known as the Great Bardfield Open House exhibitions. Other Open house exhibitions were in 1954, 1955 and a touring exhibition was in 1957 and 1958.
Stanley Clifford-Smith – Harbour and Figures, 1956
It was Stanley Clifford-Smith who helped set up these open-house days in Great Bardfield and exhibited with the other artists of the village. They would turn their houses into art galleries and thousands of people came into their homes to view the work.
In the 1960s the artists with larger families all started to move away from Great Bardfield and Clifford Smith moved to London. By the 70s very few artists were left and John Aldridge was the only artist to stay until his death in 1983.
Stanley Clifford-Smith – Woman Bewitched by the Moon
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