Posts Tagged ‘Eric Ravilious’

Eric Ravilious – September

September 11, 2016

Now who’d have thought it? A double dose of interest for me this month. Not only a Ravilious wood engraving, but it is of a train.


This was an illustration for a book called ‘The Hansom Cab and the Pigeons’ published in 1935 by Cockerel Press. This company specialised in handmade books with art work by well-known exponents of illustration.

In terms of the train there is really nothing much right with it, except an overall effect.  The loco appears to have no water or coal storage and those 12 wheeled carriages would struggle on curves. And why did the bridge engineer make the train have to go up and over a hump.

But despite all this I enjoy seeing this image.

The August Ravilious Image

August 9, 2016

This is the woodcut by Eric Ravilious that I am enjoying during August.


Once again this is a cut made for the 1938 issue of A Natural History of Selborne, the landmark book by Gilbert White, first published in 1789.

This one certainly brings a smile to my face.

The calendar itself has this to say about this image.


Eric in July

July 7, 2016

It was going to be hard for my Ravilious calendar to top that June picture with hoopoes. That was a piece of magic. And do you know what? I don’t like the July picture as much but it is growing on me.


At an instant first look at this picture I knew it was another illustration for Gilbert White’s ‘Natural History of Selborne’. It speaks of the subject matter and the era in which the book was written. The calendar has this to say regarding this image.


The lads here appear to be feeding mostly doves. We have the opposite problem. Our garden can be overstocked with their relatives the collared dove and the wood pigeon

Feeding these birds seems to be normal behaviour.


Here’s my dad in about 1922 with his mum (my gran) feeding the pigeons/doves in their local park in Bexhill.

Eric Ravilious – June

June 4, 2016

I am really enjoying the June image on my Eric Ravilious calendar. It is another illustration from the 1938 edition of Gilbert White’s ‘Natural History of Selborne’ Apparently Ravilious thought the book was fantastic and was utterly chuffed when he was asked to provide illustrations for it. And here is this month’s image.


The birds are unmistakably hoopoes. I featured the bird on this blog back in October 2014 and you can click here to read that.

But very few people actually click links so I’ll just say a few words about what the hoopoe means to me. My brother and I used to look at the image in dad’s bird book. We were both captivated by this exotic bird and as we grew up we pledged that if ever we saw one we’d tell the other person.

My time came in the early 1980s when, quite amazingly one fluttered over my garden and handily did a turn and came back when I had grabbed my wife so she could see it.

But was this a moment of elation? Well yes and no! Of course I was delighted to see this long looked for bird, but my brother had died in 1980 and I felt truly cheated that I was unable to tell him.

Close on 36 years have passed by now and time heals the wound. I look at the Ravilious image and think of my brother at the same time and I smile.

Thanks, Eric and thanks, too, to the calendar publishers.

Eric Ravilious – March

March 4, 2016

Actually, before I start on Ravilious, a quick thought on the date – 4th March. It’s a date which crops up a bit in fairly recent (since 1940) family history. It was the date on which my parents married. Three years later their second child (my brother) was born on this day and 22 years after him, their second grandchild (my nephew) was born on this day. So it is a day to induce family memories.


Another month – another woodcut by Eric Ravilious!


I love the stark contrast of these black and white images. This one was created to illustrate an edition of Gilbert White’s book, The Natural History of Selborne.

The book was first published in 1789 and I believe I’m right in saying it has been in print ever since. Of course, Eric Ravilious was not on the scene then. He’s a man of the first half of the 20th century and this woodcut was created in 1938. I recall, as a child, climbing the zig-zag path at Selborne and whilst we certainly met no galloping horsemen this looks the part to me.

Another lovely bit of art!

Eric Ravilious – January

January 13, 2016

Towards the end of last year (no, not at Christmas) I was given another Eric Ravilious calendar. Regular readers may recall my 2014 calendar which featured water colours, some from places of much relevance to me. This calendar, for 2016, is entirely different. Eric didn’t only do water colours. He did wood cuts for use as book illustrations and this year I’ll be looking at different woodcuts each month. During January I have been looking at this one.


I was actually away from home on January 1st, but by the 2nd I had grown to love this image which was produced as a head piece to Gilbert White’s renowned book, ‘The Natural History of Selbourne’. This would have been the 1938 edition. The book itself dates from 1789 and has been in print continuously since then.

You can look forward to more Ravilious images as the year progresses.

Eric Ravilious – September

September 30, 2014

So what has my calendar had to show me this month?

Well to be honest it isn’t a favourite and it features a place I don’t know.


An unknown lady sits on a park bench. The park is on the edge of Eastbourne and is called Hampden Park. It is a pencil and watercolour piece of work and dates from quite early in Eric Ravilious’s all too short career – he produced this in 1928.

Eric lived in Eastbourne as a lad, and some of the time that was at Hampden Park. He attended school and art college in Eastbourne so this is very much his home.

I said I didn’t know Hampden park, but one bit of it was familiar to me. Guess what? It was the railway station.

Virtually all trains went there twice as they made their way between Lewes and Hastings. Eastbourne was down a short branch and as a major town it needed the express trains from London and the stopping services from Brighton. Hampden Park was on that branch and as a result got a fantastic service of trains to Eastbourne.

There was an avoiding line that allowed a rush hour train to miss Eastbourne and travel direct on to Hastings. It was always a treat to travel this rarely used mile or so of line. The track was not polished by frequent trains and when one did pass, it made awful grating noises. I find it hard to believe that the line was closed. It probably indicates the end of loco hauled goods trains in the area.

Over the month, I have learned to love that Ravilious picture and almost wish I had actually got off a train at the station to visit the park.

Eric Ravilious – August

August 31, 2014

For the past month I have been looking at what I see as a slightly odd Ravilious picture. Odd – but I have enjoyed it. This was one of Eric’s designs for Wedgwood and it has a more limited palette than his water colours.


This is called Tent and Parasols and comes from a series called ‘Garden’. I have to say that I see it more as a beech scene, possibly on some Caribbean island.

But how would I know this? My travels have never taken me out of Western Europe. Those sun-drenched beaches with a bit of shade from palm trees lie outside my experience. Well they do if you forget St Ives.


That has the beach and the palms. But at that time it was hardly sun drenched.

But the sun did arrive later.


I wonder what September will bring on my Ravilious calendar.

Eric Ravilious – July

July 30, 2014

Now I loved that June picture, featuring the farm where I spent childhood summer holidays and it was with some trepidation that I turned to July. I was late making the change for our sojourn in Cornwall meant we were away from home.

But I had no cause for worry. The July picture was of another favourite childhood haunt at Newhaven.


Here we see a ferry from Dieppe arriving and entering the inner harbour. There’s some artistic licence here for Eric has made that harbour entrance narrower than it was in my memory.  Also, his inner harbour wall appears to show the end of the outer breakwater. His ferry, I notice, has two funnels. This picture dates from 1936 but ferries like that had gone by the time I knew the area which started 60 years ago in 1954.

But however far from reality it is, I instantly recognise the components which make up Newhaven. In fact, here’s a photo that dad took back in 1954 showing a similar view.


That ferry was the Brighton and standing looking on are me, my brother and my mum. The lighthouse in the foreground of the Ravilious picture is the one behind us, the spectators.  The other lighthouse Eric shows is a dot in the distance on dad’s photo, right out on the end of the outer breakwater. It’s half a kilometre out to sea – much further out than the little light on the wooden jetty on the left. That’s clear in Eric’s painting and my dad’s photo. The reality is that the two lighthouses that the Ravilious ferry is passing between are almost a third of a mile apart.

I hope this doesn’t spoil the Ravilious picture for people. I think it is a fantastic, if slightly fanciful rendition of a scene I knew well. I love the picture.


Eric Ravilious – June

June 30, 2014

Seventh Heaven

Yes, I’m in seventh heaven with the June image on my Ravilious calendar. The picture is called ‘Tea at Furlongs’. It was painted in 1939 – the summer before the war and 15 years before I came to know Furlongs, Here’s the calendar picture.


In 1939 and in the 50s and 60s when I knew Furlongs it was a lady called Mrs Richards who rented the bulk of the Shepherd’s cottage. The Shepherd, Dick Freeman, retained one room for his own use and, in truth, that was the only part of the cottage I went in with any regularity. I saw and talked to Mrs Richards, who like Eric Ravilious was an artist, quite often. As an artist she was known as Peggy Angus. Eric was a friend of Peggy’s and often stayed at the cottage.

This picture just makes the memories flood back. It’s a wonderful image that seems to sum up the peace and tranquillity of life in that era. The truth was, perhaps that the Furlongs artistic community were a somewhat Bohemian bunch of people but Mrs Richards and others I met all seemed honest and decent enough.

Sadly, I never had a chance to meet Eric Ravilious for the great man was killed whilst working as a war artist. But what a legacy he left behind.