A fascinating new exhibition on the work and life of great Sussex artist

Eric Ravilious, Lighthouses at Newhaven, 1935, part of Towner collection
Eric Ravilious, Lighthouses at Newhaven, 1935, part of Towner collection

The Towner Gallery on May 27 launches new major show Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship, English Artist Designers: 1922 to 1942.

This exhibition brings to life the significant relationships and collaborations within one of the most widely influential English artist designer networks of the 20th century and brings together works from 26 galleries and museums including Take and National Portrait Gallery.

Focused on Eric Ravilious and his personal and professional relationships with Paul Nash, John Nash, Enid Marx, Barnett Freedman, Tirzah Garwood, Edward Bawden, Thomas Hennell, Douglas Percy Bliss, Peggy Angus, Helen Binyon and Diana Low, the show also marks the 75th anniversary of the artist’s tragic death in Iceland during the Second World War.

The work comprises over 400 paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, engravings, books, ceramics, wallpapers, textiles and other ephemera.

It highlights key moments in the artists’ lives and work from first meetings at the Royal College of Art to the evolution of their artistic practices into commercial and industrial design during the turbulent times of the 1930s and 1940s.

The exhibition also reveals the wide influence of members of the group on Ravilious’ career including the role of Paul Nash in the artist’s development as the most significant wood engraver of his generation, and the pivotal location of Furlongs, Peggy Angus’ East Sussex home, where many of Ravilious’ most important paintings were made.

The exhibition highlights the creativity of the women within the network and includes newly discovered work by Ravilious’ precociously talented wife, the wood engraver Tirzah Garwood, and watercolours, engravings and illustrations by Helen Binyon, the artist’s lover and confidante.

Ravilious & Co presents an authentic representation of a 1930s bookshop comprising nearly 100 books, book covers and illustrations by Edward Bawden, Barnett Freedman, the Nash brothers, Ravilious and those who influenced them during an especially formative period in the production of artists’ books. This exhibition will run until September 17.