Saturday, November 11, 2017

Eric Ravilious & Co. in Sheffield

This morning I caught a train to Sheffield to see the exhibition Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship at the city's Millennium Gallery.

This is a major touring exhibition. First seen at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne (Eric Ravilious's home town), it will be in Sheffield for the rest of 2017 and at Compton Verney, Warwickshire, in the spring of next year.

The Towner Gallery website describes it well:
Based on new research and telling a story that has never been told before, this exhibition of the artist and designer Eric Ravilious (1903-1942), coincides with the 75th anniversary of his death. It explores the significant relationships and working collaborations between Ravilious and an important group of friends and affiliates, including Paul and John Nash, Enid Marx, Barnett Freedman, Tirzah Garwood, Edward Bawden, Thomas Hennell, Douglas Percy Bliss, Peggy Angus, Helen Binyon, and Diana Low. 
The exhibition includes many of Ravilious’ key works shown alongside both well-known and less seen works by his contemporaries, including work by each artist that has never before been exhibited publicly, and focuses chronologically on key moments when the work and careers of these artists coincided, overlapped or was particularly pertinent to the others, such as their time at the Royal College of Art, the 1927 St George’s exhibition, their time spent at Furlongs and Newhaven in Sussex, and their various roles in the Second World War. 
The exhibition represents the wide range of media in which the artists worked, from watercolours to woodcuts, lithographic prints, book jackets and illustrations, patterned papers, and wallpaper and fabric design.
I find Ravilious and the other artists represented here immensely appealing. They offer a version of English pastoral that has been chastened by the war and is also interested in industry. Two of the best things in the exhibition are Ravilious's paintings of a Sussex cement works.

Ravilious's reputation, helped by an immediately recognisable style, has been growing and growing in recent years. But he  had an influence in his own era - he died on a reconnaissance flight off Iceland in 1942.

His ceramic designs, not represented in this exhibition, now have a distinct 1950s feel to them. This is not because he was "ahead of his time", which is about the silliest thing you can say about any artist, but because the next generation of designers knew and admired his work.

Anyway, I can thoroughly recommend Ravilious & Co to any lover of 20th century British art.


David Bertram said...

Despite having (I think) alerted you to this show, I contrived to miss it at Eastbourne, so now have train tickets to get up from London to Sheffield myself in December. Much looking forward to it! As admission is free there, unlike at the Towner, I shan't be too much out of pocket as a result.

Jonathan Calder said...

You are right, David. The free entry is a good reason for seeing these big exhibitions in Sheffield.

David Bertram said...

Not to mention the opportunity to stock up on Henderson's Relish!

Epictetus said...

Saw it today with my daughter and we both really enjoyed it.