[THIS WEEK] Eric Ravilious’ landscapes are worth discovering, writes James Pallister
Eric Ravilious may be best known to readers of this journal as the hand behind the 1930s ‘High Street’ lithographs, a charming series and touchstone of romantic visions of the English high street – butchers, bakers and letter makers – recorded at a time when their existence was already under threat.
The original plates for this series – first published by Country Life Books in 1938, with a foreword by JM Richards, then editor of The Architectural Review – were destroyed in the Blitz, but they have been reproduced in various facsimiles since, including an affordable one from V&A Publishing this year. Ravilious socialised with many architects including Maxwell Fry and Serge Chermayeff, and as Alan Powers writes in his book Eric Ravilious: Imagined Realities, Richards was a strong advocate of the ‘third way’ that Ravilious’ reflections on daily life offered between between Modernism and romantic traditionalism, an approach Richards felt architects could learn from.
This fruitful tension is picked up in his paintings of domestic interiors and landscapes, some of which are on show at Bristol’s Royal West of England Academy in Eric Ravilious: Going Modern/Being British. You’ll need to get there this weekend if you’d like to see it before it closes, but you can still buy the series of monographs of Ravilious’ life from Mainstone Press (£25), which follow his life from a student of Paul Nash to his travels documenting the British countryside (see Beachy Head 1939, below).
A less well known contemporary of Ravilious is Roland Collins, whose show Roland Collins: Found Landscapes is now on at the Mascalls Gallery in Kent. Collins had similar interests in exploring landscapes rural and urban, from Spitalfields Market to the hills of Cornwall and Kent, which are on show here.
visit Eric Ravilious: Going Modern / Being British, Royal West of England Academy, until 29 April, Queen’s Road, Bristol, £5. Roland Collins: Found Landscapes, Mascalls Gallery, until 30 Jun, Paddock Wood, Kent, free