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.

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




24 hour answering m/c

01799 513779

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