Into the vaults at The Higgins Bedford

Mike (Cryer), his son Sam and friend Jason Pinny recently had an exciting opportunity to look at the Edward Bawden collection at The Higgins (http://www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk) in Bedford. Prompted by Mike and Sam developing an interest in linocutting (see previous blogs), Sam asked The Higgins Bedford if we might be allowed a private viewing.

Bawden donated the contents of his studio comprising over 3,000 items to The Higgins between 1981 and 1989. Many of the linocuts in the collection are artist’s proofs and some are framed prints taken from the actual walls of the house Bawden lived in at the time of his death. Some were printed specifically for the gallery with which he developed a special relationship following the commissioning of a tapestry in 1977 to celebrate the tercentenary of the publication of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.

Victoria Partridge at The Higgins arranged for us to go in and spent time with us bringing prints from the collection as well as any associated lino blocks. Being able to see the prints and blocks close up gave us a real insight into the way Bawden worked as well as appreciate his artistic vision and interpretation. It was particularly interesting to see how Bawden inked up the blocks and the blocks themselves. Some showed evidence of where he had used different coloured inks in the same block. Also it was clear to see the texture he had introduced into the blocks by using acid (paint stripper) applied with a wire brush to eat into the substrate. Seeing them close up and how he had overlapped colours, used different densities of ink or used smaller blocks for selective printing was very revealing.

The visit deepened our appreciation of just what a fine and individual artist Bawden was. He developed a unique style in his lifetime, not only through the interpretation of his subjects and the execution of his craft, but directly through the use of lino as a medium.

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In Bedford we are very fortunate to have The Higgins who have a dedicated Bawden room within which they circulate the collection. The current showing is on Bawden’s wallpapers and starting 11th April will be his work on book illustration, particularly appropriate to us here at EMC.

Up and coming events at The Higgins:

  • Expressionism, Cubism and Vorticism
    Saturday 25th October 2014 – Sunday 12th April 2015
    Wixamtree Gallery – Entry Free
  • Mermaids, Roses, Camels & Cows: Wallpaper by Edward Bawden
    Saturday 8th Novermber 2014 – Sunday 29th March 2015
    Free Entry
  • Abstract Britain
    From Hepworth and Hodgkin
    Opens Saturday 25th April
    Wixamtree Gallery – Entry Free
  • Bawden’s Book illustration
    Opens Saturday 11th April
    Edward Bawden Gallery – Entry Free

To find out more about The Higgins and events click here.

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emc design is a leading print & digital design agency for publishing.
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