St Bride Library welcomes 'Ravilious and friends' for evening celebration of interwar lithography

By Richard Moss | 23 November 2012
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a painting of a man looking through a periscope in a submarine

Event Preview: Ravilious and Friends in the Age of Lithography, St Bride Library, London, December 5 2012

The claustrophobic world of Submarines may seem a million miles away from the open downland of Sussex and Wiltshire or the rolling fields and towns of rural Essex, but for Eric Ravilious it proved to be an environment that fired the imagination just as much as his favourite landscapes.

By his own admission Ravilious' role as a war artist gave him a new focus and a lease of life that may now seem at odds with the severity of the times. But the short period between 1940 and his death, in an air sea rescue mission off Iceland in September 1942, was a prolific one, and the series of celebrated lithographs he produced in His Majesty’s submarines are arguably among his best.

The works are the subject of a new book from the Mainstone Press, whose James Russell-penned Ravilious in Pictures series has done much to popularise one of English painting’s most singular talents.

Russell will be at St Bride Library on December 5 for their annual fund-raising talk exploring the world of Ravilious and the explosion of lithographic art printing in England in the interwar period.

He will be joined by another key figure in the rehabilitation of Ravilious' reputation, Alan Powers, whose excellent book Eric Ravilious: Imagined Realities accompanied the Imperial War Museum’s eponymous 2003 exhibition.

Making up the trio is Joe Pearson, author of Drawn Direct to the Plate, which tells the story of the Puffin Picture Books series and how editor Noel Carrington used the lithographic tradition to revolutionise children’s picture book publishing.

As well as the talks, all three will be showing some rarely seen slides - inlcuding Ravilious submarine sketches - which illuminate the English lithographic tradition of the period.

Proceeds from the evening will go towards keeping St Bride Library, tucked away behind London's Fleet Street, open and thriving. The treasure trove of books, archives and collections of printing artefacts past and present relies upon donations to carry out its work and keep its doors open to the public for free.

  • Ravilious: Submarines will be published by the Mainstone Press in December 2012, priced £35.
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