Clifford & Joan

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

Video: The Back of Brick House

Pictures for sale

As some of you might know I am selling some of my pictures in the Cambs Antique Centre in Cambridge. This Summer the works are mostly Fry Art Gallery Artists: Walter Hoyle, Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden, Sheila Robinson, Chloe Cheese, Bernard Cheese, Olive Cook and John Bolam… and more.

There are many more on the walls than I have listed but if you live in the Cambridge area you can also view them like a small gallery.

The Cambs Antique Centre is in Dales Brewery, Gwydir Street, Cambridge. CB1 2LJ. Please also be aware the Mill Road Bridge is closed to car traffic so if you are travelling into Cambridge to see the shop please come in on the City Centre side of the bridge.

Brick House From Behind

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

Video: Kenneth Rowntree – The War Years

Kenneth Rowntree – The War Years

Eric Ravilious – Designs for London Transport’s Green Line

Eric Ravilious – Designs for London Transport’s Green Line

Video: Edward Bawden – Life In An English Village Discovered

A video on the making, inspiration and production of the Noel Carrington and Edward Bawden’s book, Life In An English Village.

Edward Bawden – Life In An English Village Discovered

A Brief History of Walter Hoyle by Inexpensive Progress

Lindsell Church

Lindsell is a village neighbouring Great Bardfield, Essex. The church is dedicated to St Mary The Virgin and dates back to Norman period with many alterations since. It was a church that Bawden would paint and print from different angles being in walking distance from his home at Brick House.

Although the styles are much the same the colour pallets are different. The linocut at the bottom of the page is very large and in life, has the texture and detail as this first watercolour.

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 Edward Bawden – Lindsell Church, 1956

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 Edward Bawden – Lindsell Church, 1956

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 Edward Bawden – Lindsell Church, 1958

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 Edward Bawden – Lindsell Church, 1961 

Kenneth Rowntree War Pictures

Born in Scarborough, Kenneth Rowntree’s father was the manager of the local department store who displayed his work in the shop, this may have been why Rowntree changed from training to be a cellist to becoming an artist. He studied at the Ruskin Drawing School, Oxford and went to the Slade School in London.

In 1942, in the middle of the Second World War, Kenneth Rowntree had moved to Great Bardfield, settling with his wife Diana (née Buckley) into the “a handsome draughty house” Town House. There they would be neighbours to Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious lived in Castle Hedingham a few miles away.

The paintings Kenneth Rowntree made during war time are rather curious because they are not on the front line. Unlike many of the other official war artists, Rowntree was a Conscientious Objector. He did paint the domestic scenes of life during wartime, but not pictures of the war maneuvers.

The picture below is of a Polo Ground is a good example of his work. The pitch as been converted into growing produce and the people working for the war effort but making food.

The figure of the man signifying the every man worker to me says ‘we are all in this together’. Below are five of his paintings for the War Artist Scheme.

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 Kenneth Rowntree – A Polo Ground in War-time, 1940

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 Kenneth Rowntree – Foreign Servicemen in Hyde Park: Early Summer, 1940

In the picture above, the mixture of uniforms is a good indication of how many parties are mixed up in the conflict. A subtle communication.

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 Kenneth Rowntree – The Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts Canteen Concert, Isle of Dogs, London, E14, 1940

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 Kenneth Rowntree – The Experimental Establishment, Shoeburyness: Firing through Screens, 1945

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 Kenneth Rowntree – Experimental Establishment, Shoeburyness, 1945

All the paintings below are part of the Recording Britain series.

In 1940, when the British landscape was under attack from the threat of German bombers, the Ministry of Labour, in association with the Pilgrim Trust commissioned many of Britain’s artists to go out and paint a record of the changing face of the country before it was too late. 

I think part of the romance of the pictures below is the lack of cars in pictures. No High Street in Britain will ever look beautiful again until cars are stored back in their garages and not parked on the street. Other than the Old Toll Bar House all the places are without figures, an empty world of architectural curiosity. I also feel that there is something beautiful about those multi-layered telegraph poles and wires in the same picture.

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 Kenneth Rowntree – Old Toll Bar House, Ashopton, 1940

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 Kenneth Rowntree – Underbank Farm, Woodlands, Ashdale, Derbyshire, 1940

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 Kenneth Rowntree – Scarborough, 1940

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 Kenneth Rowntree – The Castle, Sheriff Hutton, 1940

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 Kenneth Rowntree – The Bellringer’s Chamber, SS. Peter and Paul Church, Clare, 1940

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 Kenneth Rowntree – Cliff Bridge Terrace and Museum, Scarborough, 1940

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 Kenneth Rowntree – Grainfoot Farm, Derwentdale, 1940

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 Kenneth Rowntree – The Smoke Room, Ashopton Inn, 1940

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 Kenneth Rowntree – The Smoke Room, Ashopton Inn, 1940

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 Kenneth Rowntree – St. Mary’s, Whitby – Exterior, 1940

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 Kenneth Rowntree – The Smithy, Crathorne, 1940

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 Kenneth Rowntree – Rievaulx Abbey, 1940

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 Kenneth Rowntree – West Front of the Priory Church, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, 1941

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 Kenneth Rowntree – Chapel Tremadoc, Caernarvonshire, 1941

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 Kenneth Rowntree – North Landing, Flamborough, 1940

David Mellor, Gill Saunders, Patrick Wright – Recording Britain , 1990