Bringing people together in a common love and appreciation of craft and design



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

Alan Powers talk at the opening of Cardew’s Craft Circle 18th May 2019

Leading 20th century design historian and writer Alan Powers gave a typically thought provoking talk on Enid Marx at the opening on our new show celebrating the creative friends and influences of Cardew’s Winchombe years.  Marco, as she was nicknamed, was a close friend and supporter of Michael and had herself trained to be a potter before following a design career.  Their relationship is traced in Alan’s new essay in our new book, Cardew’s Craft Circle – Art & Crafts of the Cotswolds (see previous post).

What proved particularly intriguing in his talk and essay was the crossover that emerges in between many of the leading figures in Cardew’s life, with the Royal College of Art (RCA) and the Central School of Art (CSA) emerging as important in craft and design terms in the 1920s as was Goldsmiths College for Graham Sutherland and Paul Drury. A figure in common of particular note was the Stoke born ceramic tutor Dorah Billington, who taught at both the RCA and CSA, and influenced Pleydell-Bouverie, Norah Braden, Charlotte Bawden (nee Epton) and a number of others. Ray Finch was to train under her in the mid-1930s before joining Cardew at Winchcombe in 1936.

As well as documenting Marco’s career, the presentation entailed some coverage of the influence of modernism as opposed to pastoralism in 1930s design aesthetics. Collaboration with industry and the democratisation of design also featured.



Cardew’s Craft Circle ~ essays on Cotswolds Art & Crafts of the 1920s & 1930s

Publication date 18th May 2019 ; priced £25 ; 80 pages full colour 21 x 21cm art format

Scene setting introductory essays by John Edgeler :

The Simple Life & the Cotswolds Craft interior

The Butler family and Winchcombe Pottery

Design in Cardew’s Winchcombe

Pastoralism Pottery and Printing

Specialist essays by other contributors  (in alphabetical order) :

Richard Batterham  ~  Katharine Pleydell Bouverie

Helen Brown  ~  Charlotte Epton, potter, artist & teacher

R Chamberlaine Brothers  ~  Organic & Abstract in Art & Writings

Mary Greensted  ~  Peter Waals: Cotswolds craft furniture

Alan Powers  ~  Michael Cardew and Enid Marx

Barley Roscoe  ~  Phyllis Barron and Dorothy Larcher

TO ORDER PLEASE  Email:  ( tel: 01242 602 319 )


Barron and Larcher block printed textiles of the 1930s

This section of material is from a pair of curtains by Barron and Larcher as originally fitted to the 1930s arts and crafts home of the artist and etcher, Robin Tanner. B & L had originally been London based, making high couture textiles for Cambridge Colleges and for wealthy clients such as the Duke of Westminster. However, in 1930 they moved to the small Cotswolds town of Painswick in 1930, continuing to produce delightful materials ranging from the traditional inspired by nature (above) to the jazz age (below).

Their output proved very complimentary to the rural style of arts and crafts that emerged in the Cotswolds in the inter-war years, and their cloths were often co-displayed at London and international exhibitons of the Studio Pottery pioneers, Leach, Beano and Cardew. Friends of the artist and designer, Enid Marx, they were also social friends and customers of Michael Cardew, visiting him at Winchcombe on a number of occasions.

Their textiles feature in a piece by Barley Roscoe to be published in a book of essays by leading writers, Cardew’s Craft Circle, on Saturday 18th May 2019. They will also be the subject of a talk by the contemporary textile worker and writer, Sarah Burns, to be held as part of a textiles afternoon at the Winchcombe Archive Collection on Saturday 22nd June 2019. Please see earlier talks blog for further details.


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