Saturday, April 30, 2011

Guardian Review: Eric Ravilious and Uncle's Homeward

As this blog is largely concerned with moaning about the views of Guardian columnists, I thought I would give the newspaper some praise for a change.

The Review section that came with today's paper had two things I found immensely pleasing. The first was an article on one of my favourite artists, Eric Ravilious:
Much of his subject-matter is pastoral and unassuming, and he was a virtuoso at capturing everyday scenes and little details from English provincial life. Among the sequences of his paintings were those featuring, in his words, "lighthouses, rowing-boats, beds, beaches, greenhouses". Even when he became an official war artist, he tended to domesticate any novelty or threat – fighter planes line up harmlessly beyond a garden hedge, and barrage balloons bob cheerfully in the sky.
The occasion for the article is an exhibition, Ravilious in Essex, which is on at the Fry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden, until 14 August.

For an introduction to the artist see the site Eric Ravilious, which is maintained by his grandson Ben - a good Liberal who lives in Leicester. You may also be interested in the book Ravilious in Pictures: A Country Life by James Russell.

Also in the Guardian Review today is a list of the 10 best castles in literature, as chosen by John Mullan. May of those you would expect to see are there: Gomenghast, Blandings, Wemmick's castle in Great Expectations.

But I was delighted to see this included too:
With its multicoloured towers and numberless skyscrapers, Homeward is the most wondrous castle in fiction. It is the home of an immensely wealthy, dressing-gown-clad elephant called Uncle in JP Martin's children's books. It contains fountains, water chutes, walls of sweets and ponds of treacle.
I wrote about Homeward myself after visiting the London Docklands recently. There is more about the Revd Martin and the Uncle books in an old post of mine.

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