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Ravilious June 01 2015

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.



A Natural Selection – new watercolours April 22 2015

 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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New Town Cup (detail)

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Rena Gardiner March 24 2015

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 February 28 2015

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 February 10 2015

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. 



Women In Print December 09 2014

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 November 03 2014

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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Brita Granström October 26 2014

We recently made an overnight stop in Newcastle upon Tyne - to see Brita Granström’s paintings at the University Gallery.

On the ground floor are her lively illustrations for The Beatles - a book on which she has collaborated with her husband Mick Manning.

Upstairs is an extensive exhibition of Brita's bold paintings - often the result of working in the great outdoors, whatever the weather.

Many of the paintings depict her native Sweden where she includes family and friends in the landscape - fishing, swimming, hanging washing to dry. Others include black hollyhocks, cow parsley or the orange stems of pollarded willows and views to calm interiors.

The exhibition runs until 31st October 2014 at University Gallery, Northumbria University, Sandyford Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST.

All of the works being exhibited can be viewed in a PDF file via the gallery's website.

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Secret Gardens of Spitalfields June 04 2014

Having spent a couple of weeks living in Spitalfields for the recent St Jude's In the City exhibition, now we're back north it's a shame we won't be able to visit some of these secret gardens of Spitalfields which will open to the public on Saturday 7th June 2014 as part of the National Gardens Scheme.

As Spitalfields Life founder The Gentle Author points out:

"If you did not know of the existence of these gardens, you might think Spitalfields was an entirely urban place with barely a leaf in sight, but in fact every terrace conceals a string of verdant little gardens and yards filled with plants and trees that defy the dusty streets beyond."

Find out more via Spitalfields Life

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Chelsea Flower Parade May 29 2014

Our friend and collaborator Christopher Brown has been busy over at Wild At Heart's Pimlico store, hand painting a number of iconic Chelsea characters in their windows.

These images are also available as a series of hand coloured prints and a little folded leaflet.

I'm not sure how long the display will be on show - perhaps give Wild At Heart a quick call before travelling.

Contact details for their Pimlico store can be found online.

And you can find a selection of Chris' limited edition linocut prints over at St Jude's.

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Bronwen Sleigh at Hidden Door April 02 2014

Until 5th April 2014 artist Bronwen Sleigh is exhibiting a range of new sculptures at this group exhibition in the old vaults on Market Street in Edinburgh. Participating artists each have a vault space to show their work. The graphic, geometric sculptures seem as though drawn with wire, metal and thread and have a close link with her architecturally-inspired prints.

Hidden Door is a not-for-profit arts production organisation set up in 2010 by David Martin, a visual artist and art lecturer based in Edinburgh. As well as a range of artists' work there are also live performances.

Find out more about Bronwen Sleigh's work and the Hidden Door festival.

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RAMP December 18 2013

Visitors to my Yorkshire Sculpture Park show might have spotted the work of our friends Roop and Al Johnstone in the YSP Shop. RAMP make a range of functional and one-off decorative pieces in both earthenware and porcelain.

Roop and Al have just worked on this film with Jim Le Fevre and Mike Paterson, commissioned by the Crafts Council.

Find out more about RAMP's work - and if you visit my exhibition at Yorkshire Scuplture Park, look out for some of their pieces in the YSP shop.



Clare Leighton December 02 2013

December 10th 2013 sees the opening of Clare Leighton: Working Life at The Pallant House Gallery, Chichester.

The artist Clare Leighton (1898-1989) was best known for her wood-engravings illustrating rural life in England, Europe and the USA. She illustrated over 65 books, as well as writing and illustrating her own books such as ‘The Farmer’s Year: A Calendar of English Husbandry’ (1933) and ‘Four Hedges: A Gardener’s Chronicle' (1935).

In 1952 Leighton was commissioned by Wedgwood to create a series of 12 wood engravings to be transfer-printed onto dinner plates. These were on the theme of traditional industries in New England.

Several of the original wood blocks and plates will form part of the exhibition.

View more images of these plates over at Flotsam & Jetsam, a blog by Simon Martin, artistic director of the Pallant House Gallery.

Clare Leighton: Working Life is in the De’Longhi Print Room at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester UK from 10th December 2013 - 24th February 2014 Find out more

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A Natural Line November 27 2013

Many thanks to everyone who came along to the recent opening event for my Yorkshire Sculpture Park exhibition, A Natural Line.

And special thanks to Simon Martin, Artistic Director at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester for his opening speech.

The exhibition features about 60 framed works -  limited edition prints, paintings and collaged pieces. I'm exhibiting a number of new prints there, including Lakeside Teasels and Ramsons and Campion.

The exhibition runs until 23rd February 2014 at Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield. For opening times and directions, visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park website.

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Stephen Bird August 29 2013

I popped into The Scottish Gallery earlier this week to see Stephen Bird's My Dad was Born on the Moon exhibition of ceramics and paintings.

Stephen Bird was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1964 and studied fine art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee. He has made paintings, ceramics and sculptures since the early 1990s and his work is exhibited internationally. He is now based in Sydney, Australia and lectures at the National Art School in Sydney.

The exhibition runs until 4th September 2013 at The Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ. Visit The Scottish Gallery website for further details.

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Eduardo Paolozzi – Collaging Culture July 27 2013

We're hoping to get down to Chichester for a visit to the Pallant House Gallery for their latest exhibition, Eduardo Paolozzi - Collaging Culture.

Our friend Simon Martin has curated this major retrospective of the works of Eduardo Paolozzi, one of the most prolific and inventive British artists. The exhibition features around 150 works in a variety of media. 

Simon explains "Paolozzi is widely celebrated as one of the leading sculptors of the post-war age, but with this exhibition we aim to present the extraordinary versatility of his approach to making art by also including textiles, printmaking, film, and ceramics. Paolozzi memorably said that ‘all human experience is one big collage'. For him collage was not just a technique, but an approach to the wider culture that surrounded him: consumerism, the space race, fashion, the machine and man's place in a changing world."

The exhibition runs until 13th October 2013 at Pallant House Gallery, 9 North Pallant, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 1TJ. Visit the Gallery's website.

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Ben Rinnes June 30 2013

We spend a fair amount of time up in North East Scotland and I've noticed that Ben Rinnes is creeping into a number of my prints and watercolours, such as Ben Rinnes Jug with Feathers (below). Probably not surprising considering the fact it's one of the views from my studio.

At 2733 feet it's Morayshire's highest freestanding mountain but not quite tall enough to be classed as a Munro - that said, from its summit you can see eight counties - Aberdeenshire, Banffshire, Moray, Nairnshire, Inverness-shire, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland and Caithness.

In Ben Rinnes Jug with Feathers, the mountain forms the backdrop to a still life featuring a cherished Mocha ware jug with feathers, teasels and a few beachcombed objects.

This original watercolour drawing features in the forthcoming St. Jude's exhibition at The Scottish Gallery which opens on Wednesday 3rd July 2013.

Here are a few images of the painting and Ben Rinnes through the year (the sunrise image hasn't been edited!).

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Barnett Freedman June 02 2013

The Gentle Author’s Spitalfields Life blog has become a regular stopping off point when online, with new posts published daily. Today, guest contributor David Buckman (author of From Bow To Biennale about the East London Group) has written a feature on the artist Barnett Freedman - explaining why the work of this contemporary of Bawden and Ravilious deserves to be more widely known.

His colour and black and white lithographic illustrations for Siegfried Sassoon's ‘Memoirs of an Infantry Officer’ first attracted me to his work when I spotted a copy in a bookshop in Museum Street when I was still a student but, as it was a first edition, it was way beyond my means and stayed firmly put on the shelf.

Alongside his illustration and printmaking, he also produced typographic work embellished with the textures and patterns that resulted from his skilled celebration of the lithographic process. Clients included Ealing Films, British Petroleum, General Post Office and Wedgwood.

We were lucky enough to purchase a couple Freedman pieces a couple of years ago via Simon Lawrence at Fleece Press who is representing an archive on behalf of the Barnett Freedman Estate.

Read David Buckman’s article in full over at Spitalfields Life. Images courtesy of Special Collections, Manchester Metropolitan University and Fleece Press.

Find our more about the work available from Fleece Press.

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Space Invaders May 29 2013

My neighbour in Hackney had an inspirational formal garden of box hedging, lavender and Alchemilla mollis with a backdrop of white stemmed birches.

Our garden was a little less formal but we shared the foxgloves that would appear in cracks in the paving or in the shade beneath the birch trees. You'd often find yourself viewing the garden through their tall spires.

In our Norfolk garden, red poppies, teasels and perhaps inadvisably planted bronze fennel were the random additions to our gardening efforts.

Here in Edinburgh it's the Welsh poppy that's a very welcome invader, giving the garden its character, finding a home in just about every gap in brickwork edging, beds and pathways, even growing in the stone walls. It's easily weeded out and the fun is in keeping a balance.

Sadly, despite its clear blue flowers which perfectly compliment the yellow and orange of the poppies, the alkanet isn't so welcome. Once its tap roots are have taken hold it's a devil to pull out.

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Tuscany May 09 2013

Whilst the weather hasn't been as idyllic as we'd imagined when planning our trip to Tuscany, the converted barn that we're staying at in the hills close to Sansepolcro is about as perfect as it could be, surrounded by olive trees and wild flower meadows.

After the rain yesterday I collected a few unassuming local specimens to paint in detail. View larger images over at my Facebook page.

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Sissinghurst Castle May 06 2013

We managed to sneak in a quick trip to Sissinghurst the other week. Maybe it's a bit ambitious to try to make the large scale planting schemes of these great gardens work in a small garden, but the spring-flowering anemones, snake's head fritillaries, trilliums and hellebores were just so beautiful and understated. I'm going to try to emulate it in our long, well, long-ish, narrow front garden in Edinburgh.

The Charles Rennie Mackintosh watercolour below shows the unique chequerboard pattern on the fritillary's purple flowers. Apparently, Vita Sackville-West called it "a sinister little flower, in the mournful colour of decay" which seems a bit harsh.

Find out more about Sissinghurst Castle and view more of Mackintosh's work over at the Hunterian Museum website.

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First Post January 03 2013

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