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bought an early Georgian house in Bloomsbury, where Duffy still lives. Here, she successfully resumed her painting career, as well as illustrating a number of books and working some of the time with her daughter Anne and sister Peggy on a stall in the Portobello Road selling artistic bric-a-brac. From the 1980s until a few years ago she exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, Cadogan Contemporary and the Fry Art Gallery. Gradually, as some of the other artists moved away or marriages ended, the relationship between the artists and the community changed, and nothing was ever quite to equal the incredible success the village had achieved in the 1950s with its open studios. After the death of his wife in 1970, Bawden left Brick House to move to a smaller home in Saffron Walden, just twelve miles away, where he was soon followed by Sheila Robinson, who had remained a devoted friend. He worked literally to the very last, and died in 1989, having had his art celebrated in a solo exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum earlier that year. The last remaining artist from the original group was John Aldridge, who died in 1983 in Great Bardfield. So what of Great Bardfield and the work created by the artists now? The beautiful village remains intact, with a vibrant community, a small selection of shops, a museum with a bookshop and tea room. As more people have become aware of the artists’ work, many are now visiting the village to see the source of so much of their inspiration. Bawden and Ravilious are, of course, the most famous; their works are avidly collected and the prices are increasing year on year. They are celebrated in numerous books and exhibitions, and the Ravilious show at Dulwich Picture Gallery, which is on until 31 August, has proved to be immensely popular. Interest in the other Bardfield artists is growing and they are gradually gaining the recognition they deserve. Their work can been seen in many collections including the V&A’s, but most accessibly in the Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden, which has specialised in collecting work by the artists of north-east Essex. Later this year Pallant House in Chichester will host an exhibition devoted to Kenneth Rowntree. Of the second generation associated with the area, Richard Bawden (Edward’s son) and Chloë Cheese (daughter of Bernard Cheese and Sheila Robinson) are themselves respected artists and printmakers. More recently, a young Grayson Cousins lived in a caravan in Great Bardfield while his mother and step-father were building a house. He was known locally as the newspaper boy, but is now familiar to the wider world as the artist Grayson Perry. From that original community, only two of the earliest members are still alive – the artist and potter Denise Hoyle, and Duffy Ayers, who will be celebrating her centenary this September. Duffy lives surrounded by her family and many mementoes and memories of a life well spent. Her recipe for longevity? Simply: “Engagement with life and a certain contentment.”

“B  a wden and R av i li ous ar e the most f amous, but t he other B ardfi el d ar ti sts ar e grad ually gai ni ng the r ec ogni ti on t hey deserve”

Mark Eastment is the former director of publishing at the V&A, and is currently researching the Oxford mural created by Edward Bawden for Blackwell’s Bookshop for a book to be published in 2016. Gill Saunders is senior curator of prints in the Word & Image Department at the V&A. She writes, lectures and broadcasts on twentieth-century and contemporary art Bawden, Ravilious and the Artists of Great Bardfield, edited by Malcolm Yorke and Gill Saunders, will be published by V&A Publishing in September 76

V&A Magazine Summer 2015

Clockwise from above: painting by Valerie Mitchell, date unknown, in Duffy Ayers’s home. Photograph by Julian Anderson © V&A Magazine/ Julian Anderson; George Chapman,

The Water Bowser, date unknown.

Fry Art Gallery; John Aldridge,

“Moss” wallpaper, c.1939, produced by Cole & Sons. Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Walter Hoyle, Little Sampford Church by Moonlight, date unknown. Fry Art Gallery

V&A Magazine — Issue 37  

V&A Magazine, Issue 37, Summer 2015 Style, sex and psychology

V&A Magazine — Issue 37  

V&A Magazine, Issue 37, Summer 2015 Style, sex and psychology