Bommer and Bawden

 A detail of East Coasting by Edward Bawden

Below is a beautiful limited edition print by Paul Bommer that I own called ‘South Coasting’. It’s inspired by, and expanding upon, Edward Bawden’s illustrations for Dell Leigh’s book ‘East Coasting’.

 South Coasting by Paul Bommer.

The Bommer ‘South Coasting’ print is an affectionate homage to Bawden’s work as well as an irreverent and joyous celebration of the seaside along Britain’s south coast. Printed in 2013 it’s large at 50cm x 70cm, where as the 1931 Bawden work was just a book illustration.

Written by E.P. Leigh-Bennett under the moniker ‘Dell Leigh’, ‘East Coasting’ was published by London and North Eastern Railways and printed by The Curwen Press.

 East Coasting by Edward Bawden.

It was a book not to promote the railways, but to promote where they take you. It was an age when the public were using trains for tourism and workers could day trip. Travel companies and unions would offer workers in the city a chance to escape to the countryside.

 A chapter heading by Edward Bawden.

The railways … helped to boost growth from the 1840s onwards, giving easier, cheaper, faster access to the coast for middling-class families and working-class trippers, and making it possible for Blackpool to become the world’s first working-class seaside resort in the late nineteenth century. By the early twentieth century every English and Welsh coastline was studded with resorts of different sizes, and every possible market could find a congenial holiday home in one or other of well over 100 substantial coastal resorts. †

Paul Bommer’s prints are available here.

† The Seaside Resort: A British cultural export by John K. Walton

Evening on the Volkhov


I was in a shop looking at the picture frames they had for sale last week when, on top of the bookcase I noticed one picture loose and getting crushed by other things put on top of it. I dusted it down and bought it.


It was an oil painting on board. The back had writing in Russian and I tried to translate it with google and failed, as it came back gibberish. So I posted it to Facebook and my friend Paul Bommer helped me translate the text. The first line is: Биткин or in English, Bitkin E. P.

The rest of the text was the name of the picture ‘Evening on the Volkhov’ and the date 1961. That enabled me to search online. I found it went up for auction in 2009 in Russia, so between then and now I wonder how it ended up in Cambridgeshire?


Eugene P Bitkin was born in 1932 in Moscow. In 1958 he graduated from the Moscow State School Art of Industrial, is member of the MOSSH – the Moscow Union of Artists. His sketches and paintings in the 1960s of places like the Volga and the Northern landscapes or the Moscow streets and yards are notes of the epic in the style of expression inspired from Impressionism.

Bitkin regularly participates in the Russian All-Union shows and international exhibitions. His work are found in museums and collections, not only Russia, but also France, Italy, USA, Germany, Japan, Norway.


I found from reading online that two pictures were painted that week in 1961 and underneath is the sister picture with more of a view of Saint Petersburg in the distance.


Below are a few of Bitkin’s other works.


The Lion and the Unicorn

 Enid Marx

The Lion and the Unicorn are heraldic symbols of the full Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom. The lion stands for England and the unicorn for Scotland. The combination dates to 1603, the accession of James I of England who was already James VI of Scotland. The union of the two countries required a new royal coat of arms combining those of England which featured two lions, and Scotland whose coat of arms featured two Unicorns. A compromise was made thus the British coat of arms has one Lion and one Unicorn,

hence “The lion and the unicorn”. 

By extension, they have also been used in the Coat of Arms of Canada since 1921.

 Eric Ravilious

In the art of Heraldry the Lion and the Unicorn are called ‘supporters’ to the clans device, the Arms. The centre of the Arms depicts the Leopards of England in the first and fourth quarters, the lion of Scotland in the second and the Harp of Ireland in the third quarter. The motto around the centre means: “Evil to him who evil thinks” which relates to the Order of the Garter. The motto at the bottom means: “God and my Right”.

 Paul Bommer

In satire the Lion and the unicorn have become many people over time in issues of Punch and other publications they are posed as rivals fighting for the common good of the country. Most famously perhaps in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass when the illustrator John Tenniel made them into caricatures of Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone.


 Edward Bawden

The traditional legend of enmity between the two heraldic animals and countries is recorded in a nursery rhyme. It is usually given with the lyrics:

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 drummed them out of town.

The legend of the two animals may have been intensified by the Acts of Union 1707 and it was one year later that William King (1663–1712) recorded a verse very similar to the first stanza of the modern rhyme. This seems to have grown to include several other verses. Apart from those above only one survives:

And when he had beat him out,
He beat him in again;

He beat him three times over,
His power to maintain.