12 October – 8 December 2013
Pallant house Gallery in Chichester, West Sussex, presents an exhibition of prints by the celebrated British artist and designer, Eric Ravilious (1903-42).
A major figure in the history of early 20th-century British art, Ravilious was one of Britain's most popular and versatile artists of the 1930s, producing distinctive watercolours, lithographs, and graphics for companies such as London Transport and ceramics for Wedgwood which are hugely evocative of the era. His work is rooted in the landscape of pre-war and early wartime England, particularly the South Downs in Sussex, where he grew up. Ravilious' career was cut short by his untimely death in 1942 whilst on an Air Sea Rescue mission off the coast of Iceland in the course of his duties as an official War Artist yet he left behind a substantial body of work in a variety of media. Acknowledged in his lifetime as a master wood-engraver and exceptional artist-lithographer, the exhibition will explore Ravilious' development as a printmaker, offering insights into his methods and placing his work in the context of British art, design and industry between the wars. Ravilious trained at the Royal College of Art In the early 1920s alongside Edward Bawden, Enid Marx, Barnett Freedman, Edward Burra and other students described collectively by Paul Nash as ‘an outbreak of talent'. A part-time RCA tutor, Nash encouraged Ravilious's interest in wood engraving, a medium then undergoing a lively renaissance, introducing him to the Society of Wood Engravers. With influences as diverse as Thomas Bewick and Joseph Crawhall II, Ravilious developed a unique style of white line wood engraving, and by the late 1920s he was being commissioned by the Golden Cockerel Press and other publishers to illustrate limited edition books, and by significant commercial clients such as the Lanston Monotype Corporation. Over the following decade he worked with the Curwen Press and London Transport and undertook the illustration of Gilbert White's writings for the Nonesuch Press. In 1937, he made his first lithograph, ‘Newhaven Harbour', at the Curwen Press for John Piper's Contemporary Lithographs series. Following the success of this print he used lithography to illustrate ‘High Street', a book of 24 shops, for Country Life publisher Noel Carrington, examples of which are included in the show. His later work as an official war artist resulted in the ‘Submarine Series' of artist-lithographs - also in the exhibition -a number of memorable images of ships, aircraft and coastal defences. Featuring loans from public collections such as the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden and the Towner in Eastbourne, which are both known for their significant holdings of the artist's work, the exhibition also features prints, ceramics and ephemera from a number of private collections, giving a fresh insight into Ravilious' versatility as an artist. Simon Martin, Curator, says: "Together with Edward Bawden and Paul Nash, Eric Ravilious was one of the most important printmakers working in Britain in the 1920s and 1930s. His animated sense of rhythm, line and visual decoration give his prints a playful and appealing quality, that is combined with a sophisticated sense of design, whether as black and white wood engravings, coloured lithographs, or as transfers on the ceramics that he designed for Wedgwood. With the publication of two books on Ravilious this autumn, it is apt that Pallant House Gallery should be celebrating the graphic work of this fascinating Sussex artist." Notes to Editors: Eric Ravilious: Prints is in the De'Longhi Print Room from 8 October - 8 December 2013. Entry is free (admission applies to the rest of the Gallery). The exhibition coincides with the publication of two new books on Ravilious: ‘Eric Ravilious: Artist and Designer'By Alan Powers (published by Lund Humphries) and ‘Ravilious: Wood Engravings' by James Russell (published by Mainstone Press) The exhibition is accompanied by a talk programme. For further information, visit www.pallant.org.uk