Edward Bawden Design – book review

Brian Webb & Peyton Skipwith

Published by ACC Art Books ISBN: 9781851498390

Review by Derek Brazell


Charm can be tricky to quantify, but there’s little doubt that the artwork of Edward Bawden (1903-1989) contains it. Endearing without being saccharine, we see his work coloured by an element of nostalgia – seemingly a 20th Century world of atmospheric old pubs, trains and men with pipes.


But this could be unfair. The lightness of touch and beautiful compositions continue to delight the eye as the excellent selection by Webb and Skipworth unfolds. The images, made through a variety of techniques including print, challenge the olde world assumption, and run through a broad range of subjects.


This handsomely designed book on Bawden’s illustration and design work, from his first commission at college in the 1920’s through to his lino cuts for The Morte D’Arthur in 1982 shows why Bawden is still an influence on the illustration world, especially when it comes to prints.


Bawden’s clarity of approach ensures his images are easy to read, making his artwork effective across book, packaging, cards, murals, wallpapers and ceramics. With many of these collated in this book it’s a joy to flick through, dropping in on the subtly coloured images, from twirling trapeze artists to the 1950’s Fortnum & Mason Christmas catalogue with Santa dropping hamper parachutes from a helicopter with a reindeer pilot (which would look contemporary if published today).


A (charming) book that should be at the top of discerning art lovers Christmas list.


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Bawden, Ravilious and the artists of Great Bardfield

8th December 2016

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