Thursday, 3 October 2013

Landscape, Sea, Fields, Rivers and Bees

The darkest west of Dorset doesn't appear to be too much of an obstacle for some of our nicest authors and speakers and for that I am most grateful -  we have been treated of late in Bridport by James Russell talking about the great Eric Ravilious.

Eric Ravilious - Cerne Abbas Giant 1939
I had come across James before, only through his excellent published works on Ravilious by The Mainstone Press and the packed Arts Centre were enthralled. I was not surprised to hear that there were ER obsessives who collected and researched every snippet of his life and it was fascinating to hear how a draft pencil drawn proof for a Puffin booklet on chalk hill horses had been found - lovely story. I was delighted to hear James mention he is working on a book of Ravilious wood engravings which is perhaps the area of his art I find the most interesting. This is to be published by Mainstone in October.

Eric Ravilious - Puffin Picture Book Proof 1942
What I wanted to hear was something about Ravilious the man, what he was really like - I had always imagined ER to be a moody sort of a chap, so it was with some relief James told the audience he was a happy whistler and quite the life and soul at parties. It was Edward Bawden who was the shy retiring type - even too shy to take public transport. 

What never ceases to amaze me about all my favourite artists is the way that many of them are all linked. I didn't know a great deal of this until recently - Ravilious, Bawden, Nash, Piper, Peggy Angus, Edwin Smith, Olive Cook and Tirzah Garwood. They all knew each other really well and the links run deep.

Tirzah Garwood - The Dog Show 1929
A few days later I came across James's excellent blog and was amazed to read he had also visited Chichester recently for a day which almost mirrored my own as reported here a while back! 

The following week we were treated to George Monbiot, Philip Hoare and Callum Roberts for an evening at the Electric Palace - Our Sea Needs Our Say, a debate on marine conservation and Lyme Bay.

I have a soft spot for George Monbiot - quite the noticer and chivvy upper for the environmental cause. His weekly writings, which I subscribe to, are eagerly awaited and enjoyed.

Sixty square miles of Lyme Bay became the first Marine Protected Area of significant size in English waters in 2008. At the time it was hailed as a turning-point in our collective relationship with the sea.
Five years on the above speakers debated how that relationship is going.

The present government is trying to withdraw support from much of what was envisaged five years ago. Of the 127 reserves proposed by the Wildlife Trusts, it selected just 31. A ‘Marine Protected Area’ in Lyme Bay is quite compatible, apparently, with removing 600 tonnes of whelks per year, mainly for sale to the Far East. No Take Zones, tried and tested in New Zealand, Scotland and the Isle of Man, have been systematically kept out of the discussion in England.

Finally, the programme for the ninth Bridport Literary Festival (November 10th - 17th) dropped through the letter box.

The highlight last year was the Kenneth Allsop memorial evening where we were treated to the delightful Richard Mabey. You can watch that talk here.

Friday 15th November sees the KA memorial evening take place at the Electric Palace - Fields, Rivers and Bees. Hosted by Nick Fisher with Tim Dee, Charles Rangely-Wilson and Dave Goulson. Sponsored by Little Toller Books with proceeds donated to Common Ground.

The evening will be introduced by David Wilkinson who has written Keeping The Barbarians at Bay (Signal Books 2013). I had no idea this book had been published until now - The last years of Kenneth Allsop, green pioneer. Using unpublished papers and diaries and with a foreword by Richard Mabey is a book I am very much looking forward to reading. 

Also, as part of the Literary Festival, we have Neil Ansell (Deer Island - two journeys of survival) again in conversation with Nick Fisher on Sunday November 10th.  The venue is the excellent Hayloft Bar at The Bull Hotel. I am just about to start Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills (Penguin 2011), which was critically acclaimed and very much enjoyed by those I know who have read it.


The Two Terriers said...

More great stuff Dickie, keep it up. The Boss and I were lucky enough to meet Edward bawden when he gave a lecture to our group at Newcastle College of Art in the mid-sixties and he helped me print a linocut in the print room. My only claim to fame, but he showed us work on the Shell guides, linocuts all facets of his work. A lovely man.

Best wishes,


James Russell said...

Thanks Dickie - I'm glad you enjoyed my talk. I had a wonderful evening and as ever wish there had been more time to chat with people afterwards. James

Dickie Straker said...

Thanks John, my word, what a lovely story and splendid memory! Thanks for sharing, Dickie

Thanks James, a super evening and a super talk! All the best, Dickie