Archive for category Subject: Eric Ravilious

Eric Ravilious Scrapbooks || Peyton Skipwith & Brian Webb

This varied and delightful book accompanies the same authors’ look at the sketchbooks of Edward Bawden that appeared two years ago. Ravilious and Bawden are, of course, very much in vogue and the counterpoints to their work make for enjoyable and fascinating study.

As with the Bawden volume, this includes preparatory drawings as well as materials the artist collected as what would now be called a “mood board”. As well as having some interest in their own right as historical records, these show the way Ravilious’ mind worked and how his ideas developed into finished pieces. As a designer as well as an artist, it is possible to see how he was using contemporary references to create images that chimed exactly with his own times.

As well as sketches and design clippings there are also newspaper stories, such as the first flight over Everest, the development of the parachute or a photograph (supplied by Bawden) of the English touring cricket team of 1859. Almost anything seems to have been grist to Ravilious’ mill, but the printed borders and figurative photographs he used as motifs and for reference are particularly interesting.

There is no shortage of books on Eric Ravilious and this is perhaps one for the more dedicated follower. However, it provides many delights in its own right as well as insights into the creative mind generally, along with that of its nominated subject.

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Eric Ravilious artist and designer || Alan Powers

Eric Ravilious is sometimes pigeon-holed into the “very English” category and side-lined as, well, as a side-line. Although he was not quite 40 when he died, his output was prodigious and includes ceramics as well as paintings, drawings and other design work. And yet you have to be a little bit specialist to know of him today. Was this due to his early death? Possibly, for deaths in wartime tend to be obscured by other events, and then comes peace and then a whole post-war generation and movement. The strange thing is that, looking at much of Ravilious’ work, you can’t help thinking of what was around in the early 1950’s and of the Festival of Britain. Those artists, of course, were drawing on what had gone before, but were they consciously influenced by Ravilious or simply by things they saw around them which had themselves felt his touch, if only by proxy?

It is interesting to analyse Ravilious’ viewpoint in some detail. His use of perspective is particularly worthy of study. Tea At Furlongs has no tea, so the title is already telling us something. The colours are muted and the room unfurnished save for a plain chair, whose form is ever-so-slightly distorted. The walls are just off square, as though we’re looking at a photograph taken with a wide-angle lens. What’s significant is the view through the window and the open door, which recede into considerable distance in the same way that Dutch paintings did when their artists were getting the hang of perspective and showing off their prowess. Ravilious isn’t doing that, because it’s a known technique by now; rather, he’s back-referencing and playing with the point of view. The not-there title invites you to ask yourself just what it is you’re looking at and the picture offers clues as well as misdirections, so that you have to look at it for a long time. It’s not simply an image you can absorb and move on. Once you’ve cracked that, the theme turns up again and again, with compositional elements vying and jockeying for position and attention.

The book itself, which is why we’re here, is comprehensive and generously illustrated and will give you all the opportunity you need to study Ravilious’ work in detail and to pose and answer your own questions.

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