Here is just a brief collection of Ravilious Firework pictures. During the war Eric wrote that the naval ship’s gunfire were like fireworks, I haven’t included those war works, but just the actual depictions of festive images.
Eric Ravilious – Fireworks – Mural at the Midland Hotel, Morecambe, 1933
The mural above was painted by Eric Ravilious and his wife Tirzah Garwood for the Midland Hotel in Morecambe. The hotel was designed by Oliver Hill. The murals in the dining room were in two parts, Fireworks and Flags, or Night and Day as they are also known.
The race to complete works in time for ‘a grand opening’ of the hotel would mean the newly plastered walls they were painting the mural on had not been left to dry sufficiently.
The diaries of both Eric and Tirzah tell of how leaks from the roof and cracks in the wall had also hindered the painting. The paint bubbled and chipped off within a year and the mural, only two years old was painted over.
The whole mural was repainted in 1989 for the filming of the Agatha Christie novel – Double Sin. Below you can see Hugh Fraser in front of the repainted mural. It is not precise, but good enough, the original pagoda building’s windows were circles, in the repainting they were rectangles.
Scene from Agatha Christie’s Double Sin, ITV, 1990
The painting below Alan Powers suggested might have been a study for the mural design by Ravilious. I think it shows a young artist in his bedsit flat in London, Bawden made a similar work in his etching, ‘London Back Garden, 1927’. As a friend of mine called it, “a stacked up world with too many people and not enough money”.
All his life, fireworks were an important and special source of inspiration for Eric’s work, and were made use of in many different ways. By now he and Tirzah had moved from Kensington to Hammersmith, but not before Eric had painted an elaborate watercolour of Bonfire Night, as watched from the roof of their house in Stratford Road. †
Eric Ravilious – November 5th, 1933
Below is another good example of Fireworks featured on the Coronation Mug by Ravilious for Wedgwood. The examples show wild fireworks on one side and on the other side firework fountains above the royal heraldic beasts.
A fun fact is that the shop Dunbar Hey were the first to stock the mug and the first customer was Wallis Simpson.
Eric Ravilious – Design for the Coronation Mug of Edward VIII for Wedgwood, 1936
The final of the pictures comes from the book High Street, a series of lithographs by Ravilious with text by J.M.Richards, then husband of Peggy Angus.
Eric Ravilious – Fireworks – from the book High Street, 1938
Given the Second World War was coming I thought the inclusion of Mosley and his Blackshirt’s in the newspaper board highly interesting. If I was penning one of the many books on Ravilious I would say how Mosley and the fireworks were interlinked. That they would predict the horrors of the war to come and the domestic Ajax was a mockery of such views – Thankfully I think posturing after the fact is horse-crap.
† Helen Binyon – Eric Ravilious: Memoir of an Artist, 1983
This is a post about the Cambridgeshire County Council Pictures For Schools Collection. It was a brave project founded in 1947, in part as a reaction to the brutalities of the war, but also to brighten up classrooms and schools with modern works of art and improve the minds of young children.
I am apt to using the word utopian a lot, but personally I believe projects like these were important in rebuilding Britain after the war. Not just bringing art into the home, but taking it to the public spaces; from the windows in Coventry Cathedral to the Festival of Britain, there was a manufacturing ‘brave new world’ of Britain and they used the artists as part of the team, maybe from champions of design like Robin Darwin at the Royal College of Art and exhibitions like Britain Can Make It in 1946.
The driving force behind the Pictures for Schools project was painter and educator Nan Youngman, art adviser to Cambridgeshire’s Director of Education, Henry Morris. Youngman was a student of painting at the Slade from 1924-1927, winning a prize at the Slade in 1926. She painted still, but focused on education for most of her life.
The ideas motivating Pictures for Schools were very much of their time. During and after the Second World War, as the rebuilding of Britain was debated in both the public and political spheres, educators called for art education to be given a central position in the new school system. This received support from the Ministry of Education, as part of a project to promote British culture, improve the public’s standards of taste and create a new generation of citizens and educated consumers who were capable of exercising judgement in aesthetic matters and making informed choices and purchases.
The Pictures for Schools project came out of and alongside many other famous ‘utopian’ projects like the Contemporary Lithographs (1937-38), AIA Everyman’s Prints (1940) and the School Prints series of lithographs where major artists would be paid to design a lithograph that would be printed in thousands and then sold to schools cheaply.
Youngman was involved in the Everyman’s Prints series and it may have helped inspire the running of Pictures for Schools.
In the founding of the Pictures for Schools project, one of Youngman’s big successes was after she accompanied Morris to London in 1945 to buy a painting by L.S.Lowry from the Lefevre Gallery for 30gns for the Cambridge Schools Art Collection as part of Pictures for Schools. At the start of a recession in 2009 the Cambridge County Council sold it for £541,250 at Christie’s. The commission on that sale would have been around £125k.
L. S. Lowry – A Market Place, Berwick-upon-Tweed, 1935
The rest of the works were due to go up for sale with Christie’s too, some of the works I own still have catalogue assignment stickers from the auction house on the back, but with the economic climate the Cambridge Council pulled the collection from auction and in 2017 they would come up again for sale with another auction house.
Although Nan Youngman was the organiser and originator of Pictures for Schools, she had the support of long-running exhibition secretaries, who themselves had interesting backgrounds and careers.
Slade-trained painter and writer Sylvia Pollak was the first Organising Secretary. She had, like Youngman and many of their circle, links with the Artists’ International Association and the Women’s International Art Club.
She was succeeded by art historian, writer and lecturer Alison Kelly, who had a particular interest in furniture and pottery, from 1950-1957, when she resigned to spend more time lecturing… During the war, Kelly had been flown around the country working on camouflage schemes for possible bombing targets such as factories.
Katharine Baker, who had been treasurer for the Society for Education through Art, took over from 1958-1967. She had previously worked for the British Institute for Adult Education, which during the war organised good design exhibitions, put pictures in air raid shelters, armed services establishments and British Restaurants, and sent exhibitions to outlying districts. She received a New Year’s day MBE in 1948 for her work on the ‘Art for the People’ travelling exhibitions.
Finally, Joan Bartlett was Organising Secretary from 1967 until after the exhibitions’ close in 1969, when the exhibitions were held at the Royal Academy’s Diploma Galleries.
Stephen Bone – Yachts Racing at Loosdrecht, (In My Collection)
The Stephen Bone painting above was bought direct from the artist himself as on the back are various notes and bills on Bone’s headed paper.
Youngman donated some of her paintings and linocuts to the collection, other artists in the collection are like a who’s who of British Art. Gertrude Hermes, Richard Bawden, John Piper, Anthony Day, Patrick Hughes, Enid Marx, Michael Rothenstein, Malvina Cheek, Robert Tavener, Julia Ball, Peter Nuttall, Richard Beer, George Chapman, Alistair Grant, Edwin La Dell, Rosemary Ellis, Tirzah Garwood and Evelyn Dunbar are but a few.
Nick Lyons – Between You and Me, 1977 (In My Collection)
As the Pictures for Schools scheme ended in the 1960s, in Cambridge the project continued under the name ‘Original Works for Children in Cambridgeshire’.
Malvina Cheek – Cornstooks at Furlongs, 1962 (In My Collection)
The Malvina Cheek drawing above came with some provenance.
I was staying at Furlongs when I drew the Corn Stooks . It was then a magical place, a shepherds cottage set in the shadow of the Downs. A gap in the wall leads up to the Downs. There was no electricity, no gas, only oil lamps and wood fires; a telephone the only concession to modern life.
In the fields alongside the cottage were pyramids of corn. The exciting shapes of the corn stooks attracted me. There was only time to draw, my daughter was very young, so I made studies hoping to develop them later. I also drew Dick Freeman, the farmer from whom Peggy leased her part of the cottage; he used an adjacent room where he rested after tending his sheep. There was always a pleasant speaking voice, a fine hooked nose and large hands like those in a Permeke drawing. Later I would use both the drawings of corn stooks and of Dick the farmer, I was commissioned to illustrate Gulliver’s Travels
Cheek also worked as part of the Recording Britain project.
Bernard Cheese – The Lemon Seller (In My Collection)
Walter Hoyle the Great Bardfield artist took over the scheme in the 1970s. Hoyle donated a few pictures and convinced other artists to donate works to the project too. Hoyle came to be involved as he was working at the Cambridge School of Art, now part of the Anglia Ruskin University. He would teach printmaking in the St Barnabas Press, a premises that the art school rented and he would encourage his pupils to donate a print to the collection. It may also explain how a fellow Bardfield artist, Bernard Cheese gets into the collection. Hoyle retired from teaching in 1985, moving from Cambridge to Hastings and Dieppe.
Warwick Hutton – Adam and Eve, 1986 (In My Collection)
We know the Original Works for Children in Cambridgeshire continued until 1985 when the project was run by the council and in the mid 1990s, the Council wound down the project citing the expenses of transporting the art around, hanging and administration costs and the works were stored in a shed outside Huntington Library and in a community centre in Papworth for the next 15 years.
The works by Walter Hoyle and Warwick Hutton in the collection were given with expenses for framing to the artists. Warwick Hutton’s painting of ‘Adam and Eve’ followed with a book he published in 1987 under the same name by Hutton with Atheneum Books.
Poul Webb – Petersfield (In My Collection)
Many of the works that Hoyle encouraged his students to make were prints, Poul Webb remembered making the print above in various colourways to me when I contacted him and he now works mostly as a painter with a totally different style. The picture below by Glyn Thomas is unlike his style now too, he works in drawings and etchings but Hoyle must have been an interesting man to work under as many of the artworks have a bit of Rothenstein or Bawden in them, I guess due to the Bardfield connections.
Glyn Thomas – Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 1965 (In My Collection)
It wasn’t just Bernard Cheese and Walter Hoyle that had works in the collection from Great Bardfield. Tizah Garwood had a painting in the collection of two donkeys. Chloe Cheese also had two prints in the collection.
Tirzah Garwood – Nathaniel and Patsy
Chloë Cheese – Figs and Coffee, 1972 (In My Collection)
In 1941 Eric Ravilious moved to Ironbridge Farm, Shalford, Essex. It was to be the last home he would know. The Second World War had come and he was touring the country painting works on behalf of the War Artists’ Advisory Committee.
The farmhouse, which dates from the 16th century is called Ewen Bridge Farm, though it is also confused as Iron Bridge Farm as there is a bridge with ironwork nearby on a footpath, however this is a coincidence and has no historical reference to the farmhouse.
Eric Ravilious – Iron Bridge at Ewenbridge, 1941
In the year before the move from Castle Hedingham to the Farm, Ravilious’s wife Tirzah, was diagnosed with breast cancer and just before moving in 1941, Eric’s mother Emma died, she was 77 years old. Tizah gave birth to Anne Ravilious (Ullmann) and they moved into the farm.
At the end of April, at very short notice, they all moved from Castle Hedingham to a new house, but still in Essex. It was called Ironbridge Farm, at Shalford, near Braintree, and was in the valley of the Pant. The country and the river were looking lovely in the spring. The house, an old one, with very few conveniences. ‡
Eric’s friend Peggy Angus rented Furlongs, a cottage on an a vast country estate and never bought the property, continuing to rent it all her life. Furlongs also had no electricity but did have running water. Peggy’s life may have been the inspiration for the move, and the desire for more space would have been obvious with three children now in the family. The farm was also five miles closer to Great Bardfield than Castle Hedingham.
They rented Ironbridge Farm at Shalton, near Braintree, paying half the rent to their landlord (the Labour politician John Strachey) in Eric’s pictures. †
Eric Ravilious – Farm House and Field, 1941
The house then looks to have been clad and whitewashed, however today the building has it’s beams exposed and is painted a light yellow, otherwise externally it is much the same.
Ironbridge Farm today.
Eric Ravilious – Tree Trunk & Barrow Ironbridge, 1941
The inside of the house looks a lonely whitewashed place. No time for decorating looks to have been spared and with the war and the fact it was a rented property it may not have happened at all, in the following paintings the rooms have few items of furniture in them, making every room look colder. On the wall is another of his paintings from the house. In the interior paintings Ravilious shows us his other works or tubes of paints, it is like he is looking at a mirror with out himself in it.
Eric Ravilious – Ironbridge Interior, 1941
In the painting below (Flowers on Cottage Table), the vase on a coaster is an undecorated specimen from Wedgwood for Ravilious’s Boat Race Vase in 1938. It shows that he must have designed for the china with demonstration shapes in front of him.
Eric Ravilious – Boat Race Day Footed Bowl, 1938
Eric Ravilious – Flowers on Cottage Table, 1941
Below is a draft copy of the same painting but in an unfinished state.
Eric Ravilious – Garden Flowers on Cottage Table, 1941
† Ian Carter – Railways and Culture in Britain: The Epitome of Modernity, 2001 ‡ Helen Binyon – Eric Ravilious: Memoir of an Artist, 1983 Robert Harling – Ravilious & Wedgwood, 1986
From 1933 until the early 1990s, Peggy Angus lived at Furlongs, a cottage on the remote south downs near Beddingham – a stone’s throw from Glyndebourne and Charleston. Before the Second World War she entertained many notable artists of the day at Furlongs, including Eric Ravilious and John Piper. The life of Peggy Angus reads from the page like the royalty of the 1930s art world.
Born in Chile on 9 November 1904, in a railway station, the eleventh of thirteen children of a Scottish railway engineer. She spent her first five years in Chile before her family returned to Britain. She grew up in Muswell Hill and became a pupil at the North London Collegiate School. At 17, she entered the Royal College of Art and, later, won a painting and teaching scholarship to Paris.
At the RCA, her contemporaries included the sculptors Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, the painters Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden, and illustrators Barnett Freedman and Enid Marx. Angus wanted to be a painter but soon transferred to the Design School at the RCA, where she was taught by Paul Nash. In order to earn a living, Angus took a teacher training course and began her first teaching post in 1925. Angus travelled to Russia in 1932 for an art teachers’ study visit and later urged her students to travel to the Soviet Union. This earned her the nickname “Red Angus.”
After her visit to Russia in 1932, she became one of the founding members of Artists’ International Association, an organisation born out of social and political conflicts of the 1930s. Between 1938 and 1947, Angus was married to James Maude Richards (author of Castles on the ground, High Street), a young architect and writer, with whom she had a daughter, Victoria, and a son Angus. Later, Richards and Angus divorced. Richards became editor of the Architectural Review and introduced her to many modernist architects. ♥
Eric Ravilious first came to visit Furlongs in 1934. Peggy Angus and her husband J M Richards had a lodger who lived with them in London, it was Helen Binyon, daughter of Laurence Binyon. Helen was a talented wood-engraver. On a trip to Furlongs, Ravilious and Binyon found themselves antiquated themselves with each other.
Peggy Angus – Eric Ravilious and Helen Binyon, 1934
Ravilious and Helen Binyon had been students together at the RCA, but lost touch. Peggy Angus brought them back together. Tirzah certainly visited Furlongs in 1934, but Eric’s many later visits were made to meet Binyon, with whom he conducted a flaming affair for five years. In 1938 Binyon’s concern for Tirzah forced an end to this relationship. ♠
On a local trip Peggy Angus took Ravilious to a cement works that was on the other side of Lewes.
In the cement works close to Furlongs, Ravilious found a miniature landscape complete with dramatic cliffs and deep gorges: a kind of modern, industrial – and in a strange way domesticated – version of the Romantic landscapes painted by Cozens and Towne. ♣
Peggy Angus took Ravilious to see a recently opened cement works, where miniature ‘Dolly’ engines ran on curving tracks, a few miles away across the hills. As Binyon recalls, the manager ‘was surprised but pleased to meet two artists who could see beauty in his works and said they were welcome to come and draw there; he had been pained to find, when the works were started, that he was considered a desecrator of the countryside and an object of abuse from the locals. ♦
In a letter Tirzah Ravilious wrote:
There were two cement works nearby, one called Greta and the other called Garbo, and Eric was delighted with them and the funny little engines which drove the trucks. He was very happy there and did a series of cement works pictures. †
Angus and Ravilious would paint together, Angus using oil paints and Ravilious watercolours. Both produced lively works, but with Eric’s works being more simple and abstracted to the eye and Angus’s being nearer to how a photograph would see it.
Peggy Angus – Asham Cement Works, 1934
Peggy Angus – Asham Cement Works, 1934
Eric Ravilious – Alpha Cement Works, 1934
Eric Ravilious – The Cement Pit I, 1934
Eric Ravilious – Cement Works II, 1934
Eric Ravilious, Dolly Engine, 1934
Below is a letter from Angus to Ravilious, noting how he sent them an Optimus lamp and noting that she has finished one of her oil paintings of the cement works. The drawing below has Peggy’s address has a haystack, like Eric would paint the next year (pictured under the letter).
Letter from Peggy Angus to Eric Ravilious
Eric Ravilious – Furlongs, 1935
In order to do more work at Furlongs and likely to have time away from Tirzah, and more time with Helen, Eric bought two old Caravans that had been used as mobile pest houses.
Eric Ravilious – Caravans, 1936
When Peggy and Eric were walking home from the cement works, and had just crossed the Newhaven road, they noticed what seemed to be an old track below the side of the lane they were on, and underneath its overgrown vegetation they saw bits of what seemed to be two odd-looking vehicles. They crawled round them but could not make out what they were. When they asked Mr Wilson at the cement works about them, he said they were fever wagons from the Boer War; after the war they had been shipped back to Newhaven. He thought they might have been used by the first prospectors for the cement works and then been dumped where they were now. He had no use for them and offered to sell them for 15 shillings each. ‡
Ravilious rooted out two abandoned horse-drawn Crimean War fever wagons from local ditches, then arranged for them to be secreted in undergrowth near Furlongs. One was fitted up as a bedroom, the other as a studio. ♠
We know when Ravilious’s wife Tirzah came on a visit to Furlongs that she decorated the bedroom caravan. She also accepted his trips to Sussex painting, leaving her at home in Essex as he was producing enough paintings to furnish one of his art shows at Zwemmer Galleries. He had connected with the landscape and was turning out many colourful works.
Ravilious would also use Furlongs as a base to explore away from the house. He would paint Newhaven starting out from Furlongs to meet Edward Bawden and both staying in at the Hope Inn.
The second time the Raviliouses came they brought with them more painting materials and Tirzah’s marbling apparatus and sheets of Michallet paper. She set all this up and was soon making charming patterned papers; some of the plum-coloured ones she used to paper the wall in the Furlongs kitchen. ‡
While Tirzah awaited the birth of their second child, James, in Eastbourne. Peggy Angus was there, also expecting a baby, and there were other visits and visitors.One evening was spent at Bentley Wood with architect Serge Chermayeff, and another drinking claret with Diana Low in the garden at Furlongs. In the resulting paintings, particularly Tea at Furlongs and Interior at Furlongs. †
Ravilious returned to Furlongs for the last time in August 1939.
† James Russell – Ravilious: The Watercolours, 2015 ‡ Helen Binyon – Eric Ravilious: Memoir of an Artist, 1983 ♠ Ian Carter – Railways and Culture in Britain: The Epitome of Modernity, 2001 ♣ Eric Ravilious – Dulwich Picture Gallery Guide, 2015 ♥ Wikipedia – Peggy Angus ♦ Eric Ravilious: Imagined Realities, 2004
While looking into Eric Ravilious’s work for London Transport I noticed how many times a greenhouse would appear in Ravilious’s work.
Eric Ravilious – Kynoch Press Block 112, 1932
There are two curious observations in this post. One is the wood-engraving above, and the one below are the same location; the walled-off greenhouse with decoration on the end of the roof above the glass panes. It is also like the wood-engraving Tea in the Garden, but not quite.
Tirzah, (Ravilious’s wife), was a wonderful wood-engraver and artist in her own right. Below is a man about town in a driving Macintosh laden with marrows, the perfect suburban man.
Tirzah Garwood – The Husband, 1929
Below are two pictures, one, a wood-engraving featured in last week’s post on London Transport, but also a photograph of Tirzah and Eric together at the time of their engagement.
I include it because it’s the second of my observations in this post – the bench they are sitting on is so remarkably similar to the bench in Tea in the Garden that I would say this is the same bench and the inspiration. The back may have curves on the woodcut but I would suggest this is just to make the design more harmonic.
Eric Ravilious – Tea in the Garden, 1936
Tirzah Garwood and Eric Ravilious at the time of their engagement, 1930
Below are a series of beautiful watercolours of greenhouses by Eric Ravilious included because they are so beautiful. It is very hard to walk into any greenhouse and not think of these paintings. They are the skill of perspective but also that skill found in craftsmen, the ability to paint, carve or make a series of objects, in the case of a carpenter it would be stair rods, in Ravilious’s case it is each plant pot and working with the the backdrop of shadow.
Eric Ravilious – The Greenhouse – Cyclamen and Tomatoes, 1935.
Eric Ravilious – Geraniums And Carnations In Greenhouse, 1935
Here is a series of images from La Fontaine’s fable The Cat Transformed into a Woman by different artists with the poem translated.
Marc Constantin’s song sheet – The Cat transformed into a woman from the La Fontaine’s fable, 1846.
A bachelor caressed his cat,
A darling, fair, and delicate;
So deep in love, he thought her mew
The sweetest voice he ever knew.
By prayers, and tears, and magic art,
The man got Fate to take his part;
And, lo! one morning at his side
His cat, transformed, became his bride.
Edward Bawden – My Cat Wife, 1986
In wedded state our man was seen
The fool in courtship he had been.
No lover ever was so bewitched
By any maiden’s charms
As was this husband, so enriched
By hers within his arms.
He praised her beauties, this and that,
And saw there nothing of the cat.
In short, by passion’s aid, he
Thought her a perfect lady.
It was night: some carpet gnawing mice
Disturbed the nuptial joys.
Excited by the noise,
The bride sprang at them in a trice;
Tirzah Garwood – The Cat Wife, 1928
The mice were scared and fled.
The bride, scarce in her bed,
The gnawing heard, and sprang again,
And this time not in vain,
For, in this novel form arrayed,
Of her the mice were less afraid.
Through life she loved this mousing course,
So great is stubborn nature’s force.
In mockery of change, the old
Will keep their youthful bent.
When once the cloth has got its fold,
The smelling-pot its scent,
In vain your efforts and your care
To make them other than they are.
To work reform, do what you will,
Old habit will be habit still.
Nor fork nor strap can mend its manners,
Nor cudgel-blows beat down its banners.
Secure the doors against the renter,
And through the windows it will enter.
Marc Chagall – The Cat Transformed into a Woman, 1926
In 1926 Ambroise Vollard commissioned Chagall to illustrate La Fontaine’s ‘Fables’. ‘The Cat Transformed into a Woman’ illustrates the story of a man who so adored his cat that he was able to turn her into a woman and marry her. He thought she would be the perfect wife. However, he soon realised he could not change her in every respect, as she still chased mice. †