Friday, 29 May 2015

Eric Ravilious and an eye for a path

Eric Ravilious at the Dulwich Picture Gallery: I'd been reading The Old Ways/Robert Macfarlane which discusses his work at length. Like the poet Edward Thomas (also extensively discussed) he was obsessed with the South Downs, and ancient paths. Both were depressives. Both walked apparently in search of a different mental state.
A friend quoted by Macfarlane said that he 'always seemed to be slightly somewhere else, as if he lived a private life which did not completely coincide with material existence'.
Very careful, controlled watercolours. So skilled - here the White Horse and the train up to London: how many times have I been on this train? (Are repeated journeys a form of pilgrimage?)

Such a contrast between these and his paintings as an official World War 2 artist - lots are in the Imperial War Museum. Paintings of the inside a submarine are very haunting and watchful. 
The story ends tragically. Ravilious left for Iceland for the last time just after his wife, Tirza, had a mastectomy and he never returned to the South Downs. 
In August 1942, he was asked to join three planes setting out to find a missing aircraft. They never did -  and only two planes returned to base. Ravilious was on the second plane to go down that day.

Reading and watching

  • Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela/Judy Foot
  • The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw at the Barbican
  • The Testament of Mary/Colm Toibin
  • Schwanengesang/Schubert - Tony Spence
  • Journals/Robert Falcon Scott
  • Fugitive Pieces/Ann Michaels
  • Unless/Carol Shields
  • Faust/Royal Opera House
  • The Art of Travel/Alain de Botton
  • Mad Men Series 6
  • A Week at The Airport/Alain de Botton
  • The Railway Man/Eric Lomax
  • Bright Lights, Big City/Jay McInerney
  • Stones of Venice/John Ruskin
  • The Sea, the Sea/Iris Murdoch
  • Childe Harold/Lord Byron
  • All The Pretty Horses/Cormac McCarthy
  • Extreme Rambling/Mark Thomas
  • Story of my Life/Jay McInerney
  • Venice Observed/Mary McCarthy