An Essex Farmyard

John Aldridge – Essex Farmyard, 1948, Lithograph

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.

John Aldridge – The Grove Farmyard, c1939

Before and After Great Bardfield

Limited Edition SOLD OUT (£42)
Paperback, still available, selling fast. £25

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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.

Lucie’s memoir is illustrated by Edward Bawden

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.

Lucie in the Garden by John Aldridge

If you are interested in the author giving talks on the book please email.

The Tennis Match

This is just a short little post. It looks at a familiar theme I have found in the work of Eric Ravilious, repetition. But in this case it is because both works in this post were inspired by the same location.

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 Eric Ravilious – Tennis (in the park), 1930

The painting above is a three part set of panels designed Sir Geoffrey Fry’s Music Room in Portman Square, London. 

Ravilious based them on the Manor Gardens at Eastbourne, and treated the panels as a continuous composition. Above you can see the mounted hill with steps. Below you can see it in the wood-engraving, then how it looks today.

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 Eric Ravilious – Manor Gardens, 1927

 Horse Mound, Manor Gardens, Eastbourne 

Edward Bawden’s Zinc Zeal

I rather love these adverts by Edward Bawden from the Architects Journal to promote Zinc from 1945-46. From the end of WW2 Britain needed to be rebuilt and Zinc Development Association wanted it to be done with Zinc! In the 1940s it was in direct competition with Aluminium and the asphalt roofing roll.

Bawden completed 12 adverts, one would guess each for a monthly copy of the Architects Journal and Architectural Review (where they were advertised). Bawden got the job from his life-long friend and patron Robert Harling, who was working for Everett’s Advertising Agency at the time. Harling was the fairy godmother to Bawden, providing him with work throughout his life and even penned a book on the artist, he wrote novels and worked as a typographer.

I think the typeface used in this adverts are delightful as well.

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The full advert has some text under it, rather bleak and a little bulling I think. Each advert had something related but all about rebuilding Britain, post war.

Until the road system of England is one grand impenetrable traffic-jam, peacetime productions will mean more and more cars. And more and more cars will mean more and more garages. And heaven grant these garages will be neither in the shed-and-shanty nor in the Bypass-Tudor-cum Queen Anne manner, but decent, dignified and honestly contemporary. Their building will demand zinc. For zinc lasts long, resists atmospheric corrosion manfully and does its job economically. It has proved itself the best permanent material for roofs, gutters, weathering and down-pipes. And the wise architect will look into the many new ways and means of unit it. 

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It can only ever be a guess but the swimming pool here is very similar to the Mounts Baths in Northampton, opened in October 1936 pictured below when they opened from Architectural Review.

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 Mounts Baths, Northampton, 1936

Bawden – Station to Station

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 Edward Bawden – Cover illustration for The Twentieth Century, August, 1956

Edward Bawden was bought up in Braintree and after studying at the R.C.A. he moved to Great Bardfield. The nearest station was in Braintree and the terminus for the line was Liverpool Street Station, so as a student at the Royal College of Art or as a teacher there, he would have experienced the station countless times. While being interviewed for the BBC Monitor program Bawden is quoted below:  

I don’t think I would have thought of Liverpool Street as a subject, as I am so familiar with it. Almost seems to me an extension of my own house. I think the ceiling is absolutely magnificent, it is one of the wonders of London. 

Bawden would use Liverpool Street Station in many various ways over his life, the first time is this etching done soon after he left the Royal College of Art. 

Etchings for artists at this time were used like a romantic ideal of a photograph, very detailed and accurate, but edited. Few artists would use the medium like Bawden did at the time, a handful of exceptions of Christopher Nevinson and William Roberts exist. Bawden however didn’t edition many of the etchings and most of them were left to be forgotten and later reprinted in 1973. The value of Edward Bawden’s etchings is something that should be reviewed as a legacy to the medium.   

Another amusing print is Mr. Edward Bawden’s engraving “Liverpool Street”, which is really humorous, not in subject, but in pattern. 

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 Edward Bawden – Liverpool Station, Etching, 1927-29

Below is a drawing used in the Sundour Diary and Notebook, a diary illustrated by Bawden in 1953 with scenes from all over Britain, a simple pen and ink drawing it captures the gothic windows and iron roof top that give the station a cathedral quality.  

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 Edward Bawden – Liverpool Street Station, Drawing, 1953

Bawden, again working in pen and ink, illustrated the cover of the Twentieth Century magazine. He would work for the magazine for three years making covers most of the months with topical themes. This illustration looks like the rush on trains to start the holidays, at the front a father with a child on his shoulders, while carrying two suitcases and followed by a dog. In front of him a luggage trolley collides with a lady. 

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 Edward Bawden – Cover illustration for The Twentieth Century, August, 1956

Bawden was commissioned to make two limited edition prints, one of Liverpool Street Station and one of Kings College, Cambridge, but nothing would come of that. It looks like Bawden trialled making the print in various ways, a lithograph and a linocut. The lithograph below looks almost like a pen doodle with the rooftop being a cobweb and the structure being lost in the detail. The figures on the the picture look like humans made of wire, it’s all very abstract for Bawden.

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 Edward Bawden – Liverpool Street Station, Artist’s Proof Lithograph, 1960

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 Edward Bawden – Liverpool Street Station, Linocut, 1960 

Above is the final print by Bawden after he settled on a linocut. Below is a study for the linocut as a drawing and with the perspectives bending away to the left. The main structure to the right looking like the final work. The final linocut being flatter and showing off the gothic windows.

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 Edward Bawden – Liverpool Street Station, Drawing, 1960

Below is a detail from the final print and a look at the repetitive detail and skill in the ironwork, rooftop and train carriages. It also shows off the over-printed steam to the right and the cut out steam to the left. And below that is another detail from the print showing the centre of the print having colour and light.

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 Edward Bawden – Liverpool Street Station, Linocut (Detail), 1960

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Edward Bawden – Liverpool Street Station, Linocut (Detail), 1960 

Even thought Bawden didn’t complete a print of Kings College, Cambridge, he did in the same year make a print of Braintree Station and this may have covered the commission. From one station to another, these are the main bench ends of Bawden’s world.

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 Edward Bawden – Braintree Station, Linocut, 1961

 BBC – Monitor, 10 November 1963
Apollo  Magazine – 1928, p171