Mike, our MD, went to a lecture last week entitled Bawden’s Britain.
Mike is a big fan of Edward Bawden and other British artists of that period such as Eric Ravillious, Clare Leighton and (slightly later) John Piper. We are lucky in Bedford in having a collection of over 3,000 pieces of Bawden’s work, bequeathed and given to the local Cecil Higgins Art Gallery in Bedford. Bawden chose the Cecil Higgins and also the Fry Gallery in Saffron Walden to be recipients of his life’s work. Although he approached the V&A and other larger galleries, Bawden thought that in the fullness of time, his work would be more likely to be forgotten in the national collections rather than smaller, more local ones. His decision was very sound. The Cecil Higgins Art Gallery has recently gone through a £5.8 million redevelopment, and merged with Bedford Museum to become The Higgins Bedford. It now has a dedicated gallery to the Bawden Collection in which work is regularly rotated.
The talk included many slides and showed some of Bawden’s very early work and influences such as Paul Nash and his friend Eric Ravillious. We saw examples showing the development of his very individual style, including his more commercial designs including book covers.
Coming up at The Higgins Bedford on Friday 28th February at 5.30pm is a talk by Peter Avery, Edward Bawden’s studio assistant for some of his best-known works, including lino cuts of Kew Gardens and a mural designed for the University of Hull. Also, on Tuesday 11th March at 7.30pm at The Higgins Bedford is a talk on John Piper. Mike has tickets for both and thinks it well worth attending if you can get there, as well as the Bawden Gallery itself if you haven’t been.