Friday, 8 July 2016

Edward Bawden's Greenhouse

Edward Bawden, My vegetable love (aka The Greenhouse), 1932, Manchester Art Gallery (artist estate)

Cucumber plants fill a greenhouse, pressing so close together there is barely room to squeeze between them. Darkly veined, variegated and disorderly, they seem more alive than they ought to be, an impression enhanced by the contrast between the twisting plants and the pale, angular timbers of the greenhouse roof. Whereas the plants in Eric Ravilious’s later paintings of greenhouses seem to be trapped for ever in a particular moment, these cucumber plants appear to be growing before our eyes; at any moment they might burst out of the picture. Ravilious was, by his own admission, no gardener. Bawden, on the other hand, cared so passionately about horticulture that he rushed home from the Private View of his Zwemmer exhibition to unpack a parcel of plants sent to him by his old friend Cecilia Dunbar Kilburn. It was perhaps through his love for all things vegetable that he met Mr Clapson, the local market gardener who owned this greenhouse and tended these vigorous cucumber plants.

This is an extract from 'The Lost Watercolours of Edward Bawden', coming soon from The Mainstone Press.

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