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Focus on : David Jones

This superb and lively woodcut is part of a group of ten wood engravings by the artist and calligrapher David Jones, who in his early career worked in Ditchling alongside Eric Gill. Made to illustrate a publication of the letterpress publisher, the Golden Cockerel Press, for a 1927 book, they feature the story of Noah and the Deluge both before and after the event.

They will be on show at our forthcoming exhibition, All Critters Great and Small, which opens on Saturday 9th November 2019 at 9am, and features the use of animals in art and craft, both in antique and folk work, and in 20th century art and design. Jones was an exceptional artist craftsman, and employed a shallow intaglio technique in his wood engraving. The result is a sharpness of line that creates timeless and strong images.

The story of Noahs Ark has been a ready source of creative expression over hundreds of years, and we are using it as a core theme this autumn show, uniting as it does both land and sea. So we will be populating our displays with a suitable menagerie in ceramic, wood and paper, and including in it delightful folk work such as the childrens toy below.

NOAHS ARK 1

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Focus on : CF Tunnicliffe

This recently acquired early etching by Charles Tunnicliffe, The Harvesters (1925) which features in our forthcoming November show, All Critters Great and Small (animals in art & craft), will surprise many who primarily know him by his later bird and animal illustrations. It dates from the time of the great neo-pastoral revival in England in the wake of a major contemporary London exhibition on Samuel Palmer.

Critics believe this work to have been contextually influenced by the continental 19th c artist Boehle. For me it has a distinctly Italianate quality, although it also compares with some of the rural output of Durer. Whatever the source of inspiration, it shows an exceptional eye for detail by a young artist at the start of his career.

Tunnicliffe’s early prints are of a particular interest to us as they show a strong ruralist vein not out of keeping with the 1920s output of Sutherland, Drury and subsequently, Tanner. They date from a time when Charles was still living on his family’s farm in Cheshire which evidently provided him with a wealth of subject matter.

Indeed, it is very likely that the subjects were known to him, possibly working as labourers on his parent’s farm. The very distinctive dappled Percheron draught horses also feature in a number of his works of the 1920s.

ERIC RAVILIOUS – MODERNIST OR ROMANTIC

In May and June 2020 we will be continuing our review of English romanticism in the 20th century in the guise of a new show Mid Century Romanticism (1930-1970). We had originally intended to concentrate on the post WW2 scene, but a long term loan of the 1st edition of the Ravilious illustrated High Street published by Country Life in 1938 has led to a review and rescheduling.

Our good friends at the Fry Gallery in Saffron Walden use the term Rural Modernists in relation to the Bardfield group in which they specialise. However, whilst this classic ER title is broadly 30s in style, its spirit depicted in beautiful lithographs such as that below appears to me truly romantic.

RAV 3

Certainly some of the businesses depicted and their shop fronts bear little relation to a typical retail outlet of the period seen in period photographs or that I have experienced in my lifetime. Not a criticism in the slightest, but a grateful appreciation of a delightful flight of fancy, almost escapist at a time when the storm clouds were already gathering in Europe.

RAV 2

And Ravilious was not alone in his confection of  a delightful demi world of the imagination; Rex Whistler, also sadly a casualty of conflict during WW2 depicted a neo-classical revival in his style far away from contemporary life. So it is our intention to include an (illustrated) bookish element in our brief overview in Summer 2020.

 

Sarah Burns talk on Barron and Larcher

Also on Saturday 22nd June we were delighted to be joined from Steyning in Sussex by contemporary textile designer Sarah whose new book on Painswick based textile designers Barron and Larcher was published last autumn. Sarah is a present day practioner of both block printing and the use of natural dyestuffs so it was very interesting to hear her speak about such Cotswolds local craft heroes of the 1930s.

Sarah was able to illustrate her presentation with period examples of B&L textiles kindly loaned for our Cardew’s Craft Circle show. In the above photograph she is seen holding a rare and interesting dress made and owned by Eve Simmonds using Phyllis Barron material. Eve was the wife of the sculptor and puppeteer William Simmonds, and was a very fine needlewoman in her own right.

Phyllis made the material by using a dye employing walnut skins, the design being achieved by then applying wood blocks dipped in nitric acid. This colour discharge technique provided for a very strong pattern and the garment is a rare survivor from the 1930s.

Sarah also showed a very interesting boult of textile used by B&L for trialling abstract designs (below). This scarce material was very kindly lent by the family of the artist and educator Robin Tanner, in the person of his niece Helen Rice.

sarah burns 2.jpg

Textile Afternoon at the Archive Trust

On Saturday 22nd June 2019 we were entertained by a very interesting demonstration of indigo dyeing by textile worker Jan McMillan who in the 1970s was the co-founder of the Postlip Community on Cleeve Hill where she still lives. The demo took place on a glorious day in the garden of Queen Anne House, the home of the Winchcombe Archive Collection.

Jan a member of the Gloucestershire Guild has been a specialist in spinning and dyeing wools for many years, sometimes using wool from her own flock of sheep kept in fields at Postlip. She has also employed natural plant dyes including madder and onion skins to produce deightful soft colours in her garments that are on sale from time to time at the Guild shop near Cheltenham Museum.

textile 2

An unusual arts and crafts bookcase

This repousse copper panel of a tree of life design featuring a pear tree against a setting sun with petal rays remiscent of a sunflower is one of a pair of side panels on a small oak hanging bookcase. It is made out of well patinated quarter cut oak and has a purist quality reminiscent of the Aesthetic Movement, and turned up at an antiques fair in Wales this Spring.

A sunflower motif was one of several associated with the Aestheticism of the late Victorian period and this particular piece appears to date from around 1890. It has been tentatively attributed to the early days of the Guild of Handicraft, established at Essex House, London in 1889 by CR Ashbee.

One of his co-founders was the arts and crafts metalworker John Pearson who is more normally associated with the Newlyn area of Cornwall where he moved to in the mid 1890s. One of Pearson’s signature decorations was a Tree of Life design, and he is known to have made a number of fireguards with similar apple and pear tree motifs.

Little specialised studies appear in print on Pearson who was best known for magnificent deeply embossed copper chargers. The GOH incorporated a number of trades from its inception including furniture making before it later moved to Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds at the turn of the century – hence our interest in this piece.

bookcase 1

A Graham Sutherland watercolour study from 1928

This new acquisition for the Winchcombe Archive Collection has caused much discussion amongst my Romantic and Pastoral art expert friends. Acquired earlier this year from a provincial auction room where it was comparatively unheralded, this painterly small scale grisaille study is signed in black ink G.S. 1928.

The subject is of oast houses in wooded countryside and depicts a scene with a mackerel sky and setting sun. It has a Palmeresque quality of luminescence and is of a similar size to Sutherland’s finished etchings of the 1920s. Whilst the 1930s were to see Sutherland veer towards abstraction in his depiction of nature, in 1928 he was still producing relatively conventional works such as the Meadow Chapel and Michaelmas.

It is also known that Graham visited the area around Shoreham in Kent beloved of Palmer and his circle of The Ancients, and rented a property in the area in the 1920s and 1930s. For some unknown reason, Sutherland subsequently decided to destroy much of the preparatory studies behind his published prints, so such works are very scarce, so available comparisons are few and far between.

However, we do know that the turn of the decade saw Sutherland undertake a number of etchings of wooded landscapes. It is therefore logical that he would make studies from nature of suitable subject matter as preparation for such works. This study is most certainly in that English romantic tradition epitomised by Palmer, who was a pivotal figure and influence on the Neo Pastoralists who studied at Goldsmiths College in the 1920s.

graham sutherland oast houses

Two delightful Robin Tanner finds

Regular visitors will recall the major retrospective that we held last year at the Archive Collection that celebrated the careers and loves of Robin and Heather Tanner. Robin, as well as being a leading educator was also a fine etcher and contemporary at Goldsmiths College of Sutherland and Drury. Probably two of his best known early etchings are the larger scale Christmas and Harvest Festival, both used as illustrations in Wiltshire Village (1939), their timeless paeon of praise to the rural lifestyle.

These fine depictions of rural life during the inter war years remain favourites of lovers of the Pastoral idiom in print making. We were therefore delighted to spot at a rural auction room, two very early trial pulls by Robin produced in the run up to the publication of formal numbered editions by Gallery Twenty One in 1929 and 1930 respectively.

What makes these particularly desirable is the sharpness of both prints, with fine details visible that is frequently missing in more fully inked and later editions.

Harvest Festival

 

Jolyon Drury and Peyton Skipwith talk on the followers of Samuel Palmer on 1st June 2019

In the second talk of our summer series, we were delighted to be joined by Jolyon, son of the New Pastoralist artist Paul Drury, and Peyton Skipwith formerly a director of the West End based Fine Art Society. Both brought along period prints from their own collections to illustrate the development of a broadly romantic aesthetic in print art, commencing with the late etchings of Samuel Palmer, and continuing with the Palmer revival of the 1920s and the early works of Grham Sutherland and others.

We were particularly honoured to also be joined for the afternoon by Jerrold Northrop Moore, the leading expert and writer on Sir Edward Elgar, and author of The Green Fuse, and The Architecture of Dreams – the standard work on the Cotswolds etcher, F L Griggs. The whole event turned into something of a Masterclass, with an active three way debate as may be witnessed below.

Jerry Moore and Jolyon Drury

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