Sunday, 30 December 2012

Eric Ravilious

I quite recently stumbled across the work of Eric Ravilious, (thanks to Robert Macfarlane's, The Old Ways). Ravilious's paintings, especially his South Downs landscapes are incredibly beautiful and his life story is even more so. I've taken the following excerpts from The Old Ways. I can't recommend this book enough, (especially to those of you interested in path-following) it's full of inspiration!

Ravilious was a watercolourist, engraver and muralist, one of the best known English artists of the 1930's, a follower of old paths and tracks, a votary of whiteness and remoteness, and a visionary of the everyday. Strangers called him Eric. Friends called him Ravilious. Close friends called him 'The Boy': a Peter-Panish nickname - a charm against ageing, a chrism against death. He was handsome: an angular face, large dark eyes a sloped nose, dark hair, long fingers always holding brush, pen or cigarette. He liked tennis, billiards, propellers, winter, the shadowlessness  of sea light, northerliness, ceramic, boxwood, crystal and ice. Fastidious but also impetuous, he had a habit of putting his head out of train windows and losing his hat to the wind. 

For most of Ravilious's life, the Downs satisfied his landscape needs. Especially in winter, when beech hangers stood out like ink strokes in a watercolour, they embodied his aesthetic ideal: crisp lines, the fall of pale light on pale land. The Downs, with their soft and equalizing sunlight, their pathways and their loneliness  primed Ravilious's imagination. They informed his whole outlook and way of painting. Through them, he grew to cherish certain landscape characteristics: crisp flowing lines, an aura of detachment from the lived world.  Ravilious always seemed to be slightly somewhere else, as if he lived a private life which did not completely coincide with material existence....'