Visited this exhibition at The Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne this morning. My intent to research Eric Ravilious as he is one of my local artists, who grew up in East Sussex and many of his works depict local areas.
The exhibition focussed on a group of artists and designers from 1922 – 1942. The central artist being Eric Ravilious who had professional relationships and friendships and working collaborations with artists such as John Nash and Paul Nash. and many others exhibited. Reading the information, these artists had worked with each other and successfully networked and pushed to help each other succeed in commercial fields using their work for print, fabrics, book illustration and design.
The first room had a Paul Nash and an Eric Ravilious hanging side by side, which made for interesting comparison.
These are not great photos, but standing with the two pictures together my first thoughts were the similarity in mark making. They felt very masculine, the marks very firm and regular, precise, draughtsman like. The colours the same, muted shades. On closer inspection however the Paul Nash had been done 12 years before the Ravilious.
Moving to the next room there were many cabinets containing print work and delightful open sketchbooks from several female artists associated with the group. This is from the sketchbook of Peggy Angus. It appealed not only as it was little scenes of every day life, but also as they are very much of an age, so the clothing and colours so different to today. Delicate drawings with pencil annotation.
There were also many woodcut prints by Eric Ravilious and others. This is an art I was not so familiar with however looking at the prints and some of the original blocks I could see where the linear shading for his paintings linked.
His wife was also an artist, Tirzah Garwood, and I was particularly taken by her work, as although amongst this group of artists, she had maintained her own personality and her work stood out as being similar, due to technique, but retaining its own style.
Here a set of woodcut prints, each one having a gentle sense of humour, depicting everyday but with a smile, such as the lady who’s fallen asleep in her chair whilst reading a book.
Through the rest of the rooms the groups work became more similar. The paintings mainly in muted palettes. The printed paper designs, geometric shapes mainly in one or two colours or two tones of one colour with black.
Eric Ravilious’s painting used line even when illustrating the curves of hills, and the clouds in scenery. At the end of this exhibit I felt perhaps I was looking more at an illustrator than an emotional painter. I felt he was drawing with the paint but I did not get a sense of any feelings or passion about what he was interpreting. Perhaps an artist very much of his time in terms of the British stiff upper lip, no emotional display!