In 1925 the artists Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious moved to the Essex village of Great Bardfield, at first sharing lodgings. Over the course of several years and encouraged by Bawden and Ravilious’ work, other artists came to live in the village, forming a community of artists and designers that has continued to today.Among the first to join them were the Rowntree's, Kenneth and Diana, and Michael Rothenstein and his wife Duffy Ayers. They were followed by John Aldridge, painter and designer of wallpapers (printed, like Bawden’s papers, by the Curwen Press); Walter Hoyle, printmaker and also a wallpaper designer; Marianne Straub, textile designer and weaver; illustrators and printmakers Bernard Cheese and his wife Sheila Robinson. There were also less well-known names, including George Chapman, Stanley Clifford-Smith and Laurence Scarfe.
Though the careers of Bawden and Ravilious are well-documented, many of the other artists are less well-known but equally talented, and most have never featured in a significant publication. This book will tell the story of Great Bardfield and its artists, and their famous ‘open house’ exhibitions, showing how the village and neighbouring landscape nurtured a distinctive style of art, design and illustration from the 1930s to the 1970s and beyond.