In my hardback copy, this is a beautifully produced and illustrated book. It describes the lives, loves and careers of a close-knit group of artists and designers, many of whom first met at the Royal College of Art in the mid-1920s. The group included Eric Ravilious, Paul Nash and his brother John, Edward Bawden, Barnett Freedman, Enid Marx, Douglas Percy Bliss, Percy Horton, Peggy Angus, Helen Binyon, and various spouses, friends, lovers, and hangers-on. Although the book is, in effect, a biography of the group, as its title implies, Eric Ravilious takes centre stage.
Ever since I first became aware of Ravilious’s wood-cuts and water-colour paintings, I’ve been a fan of his work which, paradoxically, seems to blend the traditional and modern. But this excellent book made me appreciate that Ravilious did not work in isolation, and was very much part of an as-yet-unnamed movement that deserves and needs a name (if for no other reason than it would have made writing this review considerably easier).
Andy Friend has researched the lives and relationships of the group in great depth, producing a fascinating account of set of people who deserve to be better known. It strikes me that the tale of this group would make a fascinating film or TV drama, especially as it is ‘blessed’ with a tragic, wartime finale.
“…wonderfully droll, witty and entertaining… At their best Carter’s moorland walks and his meandering intellectual talk are part of a single, deeply coherent enterprise: a restless inquiry into the meaning of place and the nature of self.”
—Mark Cocker, author and naturalist
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