Sunday, 6 September 2009

Eric Ravilious: The Story of High Street


Published by the Mainstone Press, 'The Story of High Street' contains a beautifully reproduced version of 'High Street', the seminal book of twenty-four shops illustrated by Eric Ravilious and originally published in 1938, together with two major essays.

First, Alan Powers explores the making of 'High Street'. He introduces the people behind this remarkable book and details the technical and artistic developments that allowed it to happen. This wide-ranging, absorbing essay offers experts a wealth of new material while providing newcomers an engaging introduction.

My contribution, meanwhile, is the fruit of a remarkable quest to find the shops chosen by Ravilious. A combination of detective work and serendipity led to the identification of almost every shop and revealed new insights into Ravilious and his work. At the same time, amid mounting concern over the future of the English high street, the essay investigates the fate of the twenty-four shops portrayed by Ravilious, an artist who would surely have appreciated the concept of ‘local distinctiveness’.

The book's been well-received by Ravilious fans and critics:

“Buy this book: you’ll think Christmas has come again.” Clive Aslet, Country Life

Perhaps most fascinating of all is the essay by James Russell, 'High Street at Seventy', which endeavours to locate the original stores so evocatively depicted by the artist. Given our modern obsession with authenticity … this quest is not only a nostalgic return to 'a nation of shopkeepers', but a chronicle of the shifting patterns of consumer demand... Mainstone’s revival is a welcome one…” Wallpaper

And, despite a £160 price tag, the limited edition of 750 copies is rapidly selling out. Check out The Mainstone Press website for further information.

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