Ravilious

I was lucky enough to attend the opening of the major show of work by Eric Ravilious at Dulwich Picture Gallery, curated by James Russell, but the show deserved a second visit at a slightly quieter time.

I’ve always found Ravilious' work totally absorbing, whether his watercolours (which are the focus of this exhibition), his lithographs and wood engravings or his designs created for ceramics, glass and other commissioned work.

On my recent second visit to the exhibition it became so much clearer to me that these watercolours were made by a printmaker and designer. There's a sharpness and a clarity to the objects in his compositions and the palette is perhaps purposely restricted. Closer inspection reveals Ravilious is creating textures and patterns in the same way that he might when creating a lithograph.

It's hard to single out one single painting but a firm favourite would be 'Ship's Screw on a Railway Truck' (1940). Not a promising subject perhaps. The sculptural propellor gleams out from the blue and grey landscape. The top left had corner is a beautifully composed scene of ship moored by a curved harbour and tree which in itself would make a perfect engraving or motif on a Wedgwood plate. In the foreground there's a playful pattern of footprints in the snow and in the grey sky above, soft white snow flakes and diagonal marks depict this bleak winter scene in the same way that Ravilious might have drawn on a lithographic stone.

James Russell has brought together watercolours of landscapes, interiors, still lifes and Ravilious' work as a war artist too. There’s much to see that I think a third visit is definitely on the cards.

'Ravilious' is at Dulwich Picture Gallery until 31st August 2015. Visit their website for full details.

And find out more via curator James Russell's website.

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A Natural Selection – new watercolours

 I'm pleased to be exhibiting a series of 18 new watercolours at The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh from 1st to 30th May 2015.

Christina Jansen, director of The Scottish Gallery, explains:

"We are delighted to present Angie Lewin’s first solo exhibition with The Scottish Gallery. She is best known as a designer and printmaker whose sensitive patterns and motifs are inspired by the English Arts and Crafts movement and the work of Bawden and Ravilious. She divides her life between homes in Edinburgh and Speyside and this geographic diversity is reflected in her plant observations and interweaving of the natural and domestic worlds.

She walks, looks and draws; she collects and assembles and her studio is full of reference material, beautiful in itself witnessing a life lived in art and nature. Her chosen medium for this exhibition is watercolour, that most sensitive and difficult medium and her virtuosity is complete but should be no surprise in the context of her rigorous apprenticeship. The playful title for this show hints at her obsessive observing, refined through the artist’s editorial eye to make order out of chaos."

All of the watercolours are available to purchase prior to the exhibition opening. Please contact The Scottish Gallery for further details.

The exhibition runs from 1st to 30th May 2015 at The Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ.

View all of the watercolours that I'll be exhibiting

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Spey Still Life with Yellow Book

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Wild Garden, Seedheads (detail)

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Coneflower with Spanish Seedheads

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Sutherland Shore

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New Town Cup (detail)

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Rena Gardiner

Our friends at Little Toller are soon to publish the first book about the artist and printmaker Rena Gardiner (1929-1999).

"Rena Gardiner dedicated her life to her art, doing so alone in a thatched cottage in the heart of Dorset. Combining the great tradition of British topographic artists with the rich era of autolithography of the 1940s and 1950s, she created her own very personal and individual visual style. An unsung heroine of printmaking, uninterested in publicity or fame, she created an artistic legacy that is instantly recognisable for its exuberant use of colour and texture."

Find out more about Rena Gardiner and the book from the Little Toller website.

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Country Living

I was delighted to be asked by Country Living magazine to create a mug to celebrate their 30th anniversary.

This limited edition mug has been handmade and hand decorated by Burleigh at Middleport Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent.

The mug features on the cover of the magazine's April 2015 issue and inside you'll find a feature on our home and studio in the Scottish Highlands, photographed by Cristian Barnett who I've had the pleasure of working with before on two short films, including this one looking at the making of my Nature Table wallpaper.

You can find out more about the Country Living mug from their General Store.

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Nostalgia & Progress

I was delighted to be asked to take part in the 'Nostalgia & Progress: Illustration After the Second World War' exhibition at The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery in Leeds.

The exhibition explores the history of British book illustration in a fertile period after the Second World War. This era was marked not only by technological progress and innovation – even in the midst of rationing – but also by nostalgia and a romanticising of the pre-war past. Artists exhibited include Edward Bawden, Edward Ardizzone and Ronald Searle.

The exhibition also includes a display of contemporary work by artists who particularly reference this period, including Mark Hearld, Emily Sutton and Ed Kluz. I have two limited edition prints forming part of the exhibition - Shoreline and Knockando Thrift and Feathers.

The exhibition runs until 28th February 2015 at The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, Parkinson Building, Woodhouse Lane, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT. Find out more via the gallery's website

Here are some images of the catalogue which features essays by James Russell, Sarah Butler, Laura Millward and Layla Bloom. Copies are available for purchase from the gallery shop.

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From top to bottom: Cover illustration by Edward Ardizzone, then another image from Edward Ardizzone, Charles Keeping, Esme Eve, Edward Bawden, Reg Boulton, Emily Sutton, John Broadley, Ed Kluz, Jonathan Gibbs, Angie Lewin, Edward Bawden. 

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Women In Print

We were delighted to receive a set of chapbooks from Desdemona McCannon, produced as part of her 'Women In Print' project.

Each celebrates the work of a woman who has inspired the designer of these risograph printed publications.

The set we have features Enid Mark (by Desdemona McCannon), Sheila Robinson (by Chloe Cheese), Pearl Binder (by Alice Pattullo), Barbara Jones (by Rosemary Shirley), Peggy Angus (Carolyn Trant) and Olive Cook (by Lotte Beatrix).

We asked Desdemona to tell us more about the project...

"Over the last few years I have started a collection of books by 20thc women designers I admire - people like Barbara Jones, Enid Marx, Pearl Binder, Peggy Angus, Lettice Sandford, Dorothy Hartley - who alongside being 'jobbing artists' also wrote (and illustrated) books about folk culture, craft skills and 'popular' art'. Initially I was interested in the ways their research and writing was folded back into their creative practice, but as the collection grew, I became more and more fascinated by the idea of 'print culture'- the ways that publishers and art directors, printers and booksellers as well as authors and artists are entangled in a huge web of connections. I became hooked on the idea that, as Elisabeth Eisenstein says, print itself can be 'an agent of change'.

The main catalyst for setting up Women in Print was seeing a photo in a book, I forget which one, of Tirzah Ravilious on a step ladder with a paintbrush in her hand, in the process of putting paint on a wall, with Eric Ravilious standing by looking down, and the caption underneath saying 'Eric Ravilious painting a mural'. I realised that there was a silence around these women in the way histories were being told, a huge blind spot when it came to celebrating their achievements.

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So the point of the Women in Print network is to focus attention on women who deserve to be better known, and their contribution to 'print culture'- as writers, academics, artists, art directors, publishers, journalists, printmakers and illustrators. This happens through an ad hoc series of events, enjoyable study days with speakers and discussions. Alongside this there is a growing set of tribute chapbooks. Anyone can contribute to the series. If they know of a woman they would like to celebrate, I send them the template and they send the (two colour) artwork and text back. I print them up on the risograph machine at Manchester School of Art with the help of students at the college, and we sell them and give them out at the Women in Print events, in the spirit of radical pamphleteers! Lots of really interesting artists, writers and academics have contributed to the series already... Alice Patullo did a beautiful one for Pearl Binder, and Carolyn Trant made one about Peggy Angus who she knew well. Chloe Cheese made one about her mother Sheila Robinson too. I would love for there to be a whole shelf of them one day.

Over the last 18 months there have been three fascinating days of talks about the different ways that women contributed to print culture in the 20thc, the first at Compton Verney in Warwickshire, the second at MMU Special Collections in Manchester, and the third at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne to accompany the Peggy Angus exhibition there. Speakers have ranged from Professors to recent graduates, researchers into design history and daughters of the designers themselves. The days attract a mixed audience too, which has been wonderful. Artists, academics, people interested in craft, ex librarians, collectors, and the odd husband quietly trying to sleep in the corner. There have been biographical talks about individual women- people like Peggy Angus and Pearl Binder, Susan Clough Ellis and Sheila Robinson, but also fascinating insights into publishing and visual culture of the period, for example Natalie Kay Thatcher recently gave a blinding talk about the Perry Colour Books at the Towner event.

There are more Women in Print days coming up- one in Boscastle next April looking at 'witchcraft in the popular press 1920- 1990' - inspired by a visit to the wonderful library at the museum of witchcraft there. Several people have already offered to give talks about Doreen Valiente, Ruth Manning Sanders, Margaret Murray and Ithell Colqhoun. The call for papers is still open, with further information available online, and so I'm looking forward to seeing what comes in.

It's really heartening that Chloe Cheese has recently written a book about her mother's work, and that Ann Ullman is writing about her mother Tirzah Ravilous too... there are some other projects in a similar vein in the pipeline too. It feels like an exciting time, a chance to have another go at writing the history of the period, and points to the continued potency of print in shaping the cultural landscape. What I find most most enjoyable is the enthusiasm and generosity of all the people involved- that a shared love of print has enabled these connections too."

Desdemona McCannon was born in Liverpool and studied English Literature at Bristol University before going on to train as an illustrator in Liverpool and Brighton. She is interested in investigating popular and vernacular art forms through organising events, curating exhibitions, writing articles, editing the Journal of Illustration and making work. She is currently a senior lecturer at Manchester School of Art. Find out more

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David Cass

I have very fond memories of the time I spent as an artist in residence at Joya: arte + ecología in Andalucia, Spain back in 2011 (here are a few images from my visit).

So it's been great to read of artist David Cass' time spent working in this unique landscape.

We're great fans of David's work. I remember being particularly impressed by his degree show at Edinburgh College of Art from where he graduated in 2010, receiving the Royal Scottish Academy’s John Kinross Scholarship to Florence.

As Guy Peploe of The Scottish Gallery explains...

“David Cass has an innate understanding of matière; a sensitivity to material, it’s texture, tone, pigment, weight and beyond this its context, history and emotional resonance. He works with found objects and by an act of appropriation and minimal intervention – perhaps merely turning the front of a drawer through ninety degrees – he creates works of art with quiet authority."

A large part of the work David is creating during his time at Cortijada Los Gázquez will be exhibited in an upcoming show, during the summer of 2015, with The Scottish Gallery. His new works are taking his exploration of water (and the sea), a step further - these new works on paper (informed by his recent photographic and film works) illustrate both real and imagined scenes of flooding, inundation and destruction. His landscape exploration has developed, and he's taking time to learn new methods of response - film, photography, writing and sound.

You can view more of David's work over at his website.

David Cass - Artist in Residence from Joya: arte + ecología on Vimeo.

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