The Fry Art Gallery

An abstract design from a wood engraving by Eric Ravilious
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The Fry Public Art Gallery houses an impressive number of paintings, prints, illustrations, wallpapers and decorative designs by artists of the 20th century and the present day who have local connections and have made a significant contribution to their field. There is a special emphasis on those who for a variety of reasons settled in Great Bardfield between the early thirties of the last century and the death in 1983 of John Aldridge. Other artists represented are Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilious, Kenneth Rowntree, Michael Rothenstein and Bernard Cheese.

The Gallery was designed to house the collection of Francis Gibson, a local business man who died in 1859, and the building passed by descent to the Fry family, who lease it to the Fry Art Gallery Society. The Gallery also houses a collection of work by Lewis George Fry RBA, RWA (1860-1933), who was Gibson's grandson and a landscape painter of repute. His oils and watercolours are normally exhibited annually between the spring and autumn exhibitions, along with other works by Roger Fry (1866-1934) and Anthony Fry.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

First Sunday in April - last Sunday in October
Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 2pm - 5pm
Saturday 11am - 5pm
Sunday 2.15-5pm
Bank Holidays 2.15-5pm

Admission charges

Free admission

Over twelve hundred items now constitute the permanent North West Essex Collection, for the interest and benefit of the public and researchers alike. The Collection comprises around 500 oils, watercolours, lithographs, drawings, and textile designs, together with 600 books illustrated by the same artists. There is also a representative collection of ceramics by Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden, and Michael Rothenstein.

Collection details

Fine Art

Key artists and exhibits

  • The following are particularly well represented within the Collection: Edward Bawden, John Aldridge, Bernard Cheese, Marianne Straub, Kenneth Rowntree, Michael Rothenstein, Edwin Smith as an artist and Sheila Robinson.
  • Edward Bawden RA who, with his friend Eric Ravilious, discovered Bardfield a year before the arrival of Aldridge and dominated the scene for almost four decades, is represented by nearly 400 items. The Gallery lias also acquired work by Ravilious and his wife Tirzah Garwood, and by those other artists who came to the village during the second world war — Michael Rothenstein RA, and his wife Duffy (now Duffy Ayers), Kenneth Rowntree, George Chapman, and Sydney Clifford-Smith. The collection is additionally enhanced by a number of prints and paintings by Bawden's son Richard, and by examples of the very varied work of artists who made their way to Bardfield in the 1950s — Marianne Straub, Audrey Cruddas, Sheila Robinson, Bernard Cheese and Walter Hoyle.
  • Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde spent a brief time at nearby Tilty during the same period, and are also represented, together with several other interesting artists associated with the area, among them John Norris Wood, Micliael Ayrton, Isabel Lambert, and Tom Deakins. More recently has come John Bellany, RA. In 1970 Edward Bawden moved to Saffron Walden, where he lived until his death in 1989. Also represented in the Collection are Olive Cook, Edwin Smith, Chloe Cheese, John Bolam, Paul Beck, David Myerscough-Jones and Olga Lehmann, all of whom are associated with Saffron Walden.
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
A distant view of Caerhays Castle, a semi-castellated manor house nea St Austell in Cornwall

Exploring: Inspirational places for Great Bardfield and North West Essex artists

  • 2 April — 29 October 2017 *on now

The Fry Art Gallery has the largest comprehensive collection of work by artists of Great Bardfield and surrounding area, and this exhibition from the permanent collection celebrates not only the better known artists such as Bawden, Ravilious, Rothenstein, Aldridge, Vaughan, and Ayrton, but others who have not had recent exhibitions including Walter Hoyle, Olive Cook, and Sheila Robinson. It will also include recently acquired work including two watercolours of Heligan by Edward Bawden

Suitable for

  • Any age


An Oil painting of a street in the Rhondda Valley in South Wales with three figures toiling up a a steep hill away from the viewer

George Chapman 1908-1993 From Bardfield to the Rhondda

  • 2 April — 21 May 2017 *on now

George Chapman is best known for his paintings and etchings of what was the industrial landscape of the Rhondda valley in South Wales. It was almost by accident that he discovered the Rhondda in the 1950s on a journey made from North West Essex. The area became and remained a fascinating subject for him, at a time when he was struggling to discover his further direction as an artist. In the 1950s he left London to move to Great Bardfield, with his new and second wife, Kate, to be part of the thriving artist community.

Suitable for

  • Any age


The Fry Art Gallery
19 aCastle Street
Saffron Walden
CB10 1BD




24 hour answering m/c

01799 513779

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.