Ravilious & Co

The Pattern of Friendship

Andy Friend


The first biography of the circle of British inter-war artists and designers centred on Ravilious – an enthralling narrative of creative achievement, joy and tragedy

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In recent years Eric Ravilious has become recognized as one of the most important British artists of the 20th century, whose watercolours and wood engravings capture an essential sense of place and the spirit of mid-century England. What is less appreciated is that he did not work in isolation, but within a much wider network of artists, friends and lovers influenced by Paul Nash’s teaching at the Royal College of Art – Edward Bawden, Barnett Freedman, Enid Marx, Tirzah Garwood, Percy Horton, Peggy Angus and Helen Binyon among them. The Ravilious group bridged the gap between fine art and design, and the gentle, locally rooted but spritely character of their work came to be seen as the epitome of contemporary British values.

Seventy-five years after Ravilious’s untimely death, Andy Friend tells the story of this group of artists from their student days through to the Second World War. Ravilious & Co. explores how they influenced each other and how a shared experience animated their work, revealing the significance in this pattern of friendship of women artists, whose place within the history of British art has often been neglected. Generously illustrated and drawing on extensive research, and a wealth of newly discovered material, Ravilious & Co. is an enthralling narrative of creative achievement, joy and tragedy.

Shortlisted for the Beautiful Books category of the Books Are My Bag Awards 2017

One of Peter Conrad's Books of the Year, Observer

A Guardian Book of the Year

A Sunday Times Best Biography/Autobiography of the Year'

A Spectator Book of the Year

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'The book is magnificent. I can’t recommend it enough ... Andy Friend seems to have opened new vistas on the lives, loves and connections of this mesmerising and migrant artist – right up to his last fatal flight off Iceland in 1942'
Robert Macfarlane

'A lovingly researched and crafted portrait of intricately connected creative lives... New voices emerge from the archives, unfamiliar images light up the pages. Here, above all, is the joyous making of art'
Alexandra Harris, author of Weatherland

'Friend excels … in the glimpses he offers of the lives behind the art'
The Times

'One of the best biographies this year … a lovely account'

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Further Details


Format: Hardback

Size: 24.0 x 16.5 cm

Extent: 336 pp

Publication date: 8 April 2018

ISBN: 9780500239551

About the Author

Andy Friend has spent a decade researching the life and work of Eric Ravilious and his extensive circle. He is co-curator of Towner Art Gallery’s major touring exhibition, ‘Ravilious & Co.’

Alan Powers is a widely published author specializing in 20th-century art and design, with an interest in expanding the canon and reshaping the interpretation of Modernism, especially in the British context. He has taught in several university schools of architecture, and has been active as an exhibition curator, conservationist and journalist. He has written a number of books on Ravilious including Ravilious and Co published by Thames & Hudson Ltd.

List of Contributors

Alan Powers