Captain Ravilious

Some time during the later stages of the pandemic, I got a phone call from Margy Kinmonth, a friend and film-maker, to ask if I would mind impersonating Kenneth Clark for a film she was making about Eric Ravilious. Since I have spent so much of my life in his footsteps, I was more than happy to do so to alleviate the boredom of confinement, bicycling to be filmed in the board room of the Imperial War Museum (the National Gallery was not available).

The film is due to go on general release on July 1st. and I have just seen a preview which I thought was brilliant: deeply informative about his life; a bit tragic because I didn’t know about the affairs he had when he and his wife Tirzah – or Tush as he called her – were living at Furlongs on the South Downs, nor that she had had breast cancer and a mastectomy just before he died in a plane crash off the coast of Iceland in September 1942 (one of the many good things about the film is the way her role is properly recognised). Grayson Perry is particularly good in talking about Ravilious’s skills as a designer, as is Alan Bennett. I hadn’t realised the extent to which many of his paintings were stored under Edward Bawden’s bed until the 1970s which has led to a gradual reappraisal of his work not just as a wood engraver and designer, particularly his work for Wedgwood, but as an artist of such skill and imagination evident throughout the film.


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