Tuesday 13 February 2024


Tirzah Garwood, Hornet and Wild Rose, 1950 (Towner)

Another lengthy silence and another valid excuse... I've been hard at work putting together the first major museum exhibition devoted to the art of Tirzah Garwood (1908-51) since the memorial exhibition shortly after her death. 

Tirzah Garwood: Beyond Ravilious will open at Dulwich Picture Gallery in November, and I am absolutely delighted to be bringing the work of this remarkable artist to the audience she deserves. I was going to say 'unknown' artist but in fact Garwood is familiar to quite a number of people, thanks to her autobiography Long Live Great Bardfield and to Margy Kinmonth's film Eric Ravilious: Drawn to War

Some of the wood engravings she made in her early twenties are also well-known, having been reproduced here and there, but those were a small - if brilliant - part of her artistic achievement. In the 1930s and 1940s she made exquisite decorative papers using a marbling technique that was all her own and went on, in the few years she had between the end of World War Two and her death from breast cancer, to create a series of compelling house constructions or dioramas and a group of hauntingly beautiful oil paintings.

The last twenty of these Garwood painted in her last year, when she knew she was dying and yet was somehow able to paint works that are at once radiant and uncanny. They are not at all like her first husband's watercolours, but she did share with him an 'innocent eye' that was a lot less innocent than it seemed, and an ability to get to the very essence of things.

Roll on November!

Tirzah Garwood: Beyond Ravilious opens at Dulwich Picture Gallery in November, almost ten years after my exhibition Ravilious opened there. I'll be advertising an online lecture to introduce the show soon...

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