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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'

'Shrewdly and sympathetically charts the wide-ranging influence of this group and their personal and professional relationships'
Sunday Times

'Beautifully illustrated'
The Times

'A moving book'
Literary Review

'Adds much new detail and factual fine-tuning to our picture of national, in contrast to international, modern art in interwar Britain'
Daily Telegraph

'Valuable and absorbing'
Yorkshire Post

'A deft example of that tricky genre, the group biography'
Martin Gayford, The Spectator

'Gorgeously illustrated'
The Lady

'Generously illustrated, beautifully written … a remarkable testimony to the making of art and friendship'
The Artist

'Beautifully written'
Sussex Life

'A fascinating slice of English artistic and social history'
New York Review of Books

'Engagingly written … beautifully produced'
Art Newspaper

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 24.0 x 16.5 cm

Extent: 336 pp

Publication date: 20 April 2017

ISBN: 9780500239551

About the Author

Andy Friend is the author of Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship (Thames & Hudson, 2017). He conceived and co-curated the eponymous exhibition which toured the UK in 2017–18, attracting c. 100,000 visitors.

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 is the author of numerous books, including Ravilious and Co, also published by Thames & Hudson.

List of Contributors

Alan Powers

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