Eric Ravilious May

Oh, I do love the works of Eric Ravilious. Yes, I prefer his water colours and particularly his Downland views, but I still have plenty of time for his woodcuts used as book illustrations. This is one of them.


This was another illustration for the 1938 edition of ‘The Natural History of Selborne’ by Gilbert White. It depicts a group of people sitting at a shelter around a large tree. A couple of men smoke long pipes and clouds scud across the sky.

It amazes me what can be achieved in just black and white. This is not the same as a black and white photo for these also use shades of grey – many more than 50 of them. Here we have either white or black and the artist has to come up with suitable textures.

Cunning stuff – and clearly this picture was chosen for May because it features a village maypole.

It’s good to report that maypoles still get used and here we see a maypole in use in my own village last year.


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