Posts Tagged ‘Essex’

Eric Ravilious – October

October 31, 2014

In October I have been looking at a part of Eric’s life that I know least about. I have some familiarity with Ravilious of Sussex, the lover of chalk horses and old machinery.  I know about his work as a war artist which led to his early death when the plane he was in was lost. I know about his design work for crockery.

But his time in Essex is not really known about by me and so this October I have had a chance to discover more.

Here is the picture I have seen for the past month.


This picture is simply called ‘Village Street’ and was painted in 1936.

Eric had married his wife, Tirzah, in 1930 and for a while they lived with Edward Bawden and his wife at Great Barfield in Essex. The more permanent Ravilious home was in the village of Castle Hedingham and that is where this scene was painted. It is clearly ‘after a rain shower’. The road is wet and reflective, but the cyclists and the walker are without raincoats. The whole scene, as you might expect, is incredibly free from motor transport.

The scene is still recognisably the same today, nearly 80 years on, but these days, as is often the case, cars dominate the roadways.


I have discovered lots of really lovely Ravilious water colours painted in Essex. It isn’t a part of Essex I know. Maybe a visit is called for sometime.

Eric Ravilious – May

May 30, 2014

Gosh, these months come round fast. It seems no time at all since I wrote a blog about the Ravilious boat race print but a whole month has now elapsed. So what have I been looking at in May?


It’s a scene called Ironbridge Interior and was painted in 1941.

This picture has been considerably cropped to fit the square format of the calendar. I think it loses a little impact as a result.

Ironbridge is not the little town in Shropshire that grew around Abraham Darby’s magnificent 1779 bridge over the River Severn. It was the Ravilious home near Shalford in Essex. This farmhouse was rented for £70 per year in cash and £70 worth of paintings.

For me, this is the Ravilious I love, albeit it is not a Sussex or chalk downland image. It is just simple and has all of Eric’s use of light and shade. The vase of flowers contains wild verge side herbage – cow parsley which most would call a weed and not a flower for picking. The chair is simple and on the left hand wall there is a Ravilious painting of a vase of flowers. The vase in the painting is Wedgwood, in the style the boat race image was to go on.

This is a room where I could feel at home and able to live. I have very much enjoyed looking at this picture for a month.


A Sailing Barge at Lewes

November 24, 2012

I’ve commented before on my Dad’s interest in almost everything and here’s a case in point. In August 1954 Dad snapped this picture.

The scene is the River Ouse just on the downstream side of Lewes, county town of East Sussex. The famous cliff is on the right – scene of the awful tragedy of December 1836. Amazingly, it wasn’t so much a cliff collapse as an avalanche of snow which crashed down the cliff destroying a row of cottages and killing eight people.

Let’s lighten the mood. One of my favourite spoof book titles, remembered from childhood was, ‘The Cliff Tragedy’ by Eileen Dover.

And now back to the photo where all looks calm, still and a tad grey on this August 1954 day. Holding centre stage is a sailing barge. I’m sure dad would have taken this shot knowing their days were numbered. Now I’m not an expert on sailing barges – different styles were adopted for specific circumstances in different parts of the country – but I think this is a Thames sailing barge. Do tell me if I’m wrong.

They do still exist although whether any really carry cargo, I don’t know. My dad hired one in 1975 as part of an Industrial Archaeology Course he was running. I was there! We set sail from Malden in Essex.

That’s dad at the helm

A group of ‘passengers’ go ashore on the tender. That’s the Thames sailing barge (she was called Dawn) in the background