Happy in Essex..

SaffronWaldenTheBigForest1Tucked behind a row of ancient cottages in Saffron Walden, Essex, the Fry Art Gallery is a small but perfectly formed treat for lovers of mid-20th Century art. It tells the story of the Great Bardfield artists, a nearby village jam-packed from the 1930’s to the late 1960’s with Artists – Eric Ravillious, Richard and Edward Bawden (we blogged about our Richard Bawden print a couple of weeks back when we visited Conwy Castle) and others who were less familiar to us but who we will now research with interest.TheFryArtGalleryTheBigForest1

The Fry Gallery has been on our ‘must visit’ list for about five years but each time we have been hungry for inspiration it has been winter when the gallery is closed. But we finally made it – yay!344 0002

We really were like kids in the sweety shop – watercolours, lithographs, prints, sketchbooks, fabrics, a temporary exhibition called Ecclesiastical Delights and another of twentieth century book cover art featuring work by Keith Vaughan, John Piper and John Minton. We too have collected book covers by these artists and it was wonderful to see such a rich collection by a fellow (and much more dedicated) enthusiast.

Leaving the gallery, all buzzy and inspired, we found a second-hand book and antiques shop – lovely odd stuff, old postcards, cluttered piles of plates and verdigris streaked copper pans, Victorian fenders, paintings and pieces of ill-matched furniture.AntiqueShopTheBigForest1AntiqueShopTheBigForest2

After an excellent beer and a pub lunch at the Kings Arms on Market Hill we explored the Saturday market and the town. With medieval roots and a mix of Georgian and Victorian buildings there was much to see including local ‘pargetting’, relief decorative plastering which is a feature of the counties of Suffolk and Essex. There was steady rain so only a few photographs.PargettingTheBigForest2PargettingTheBigForest1SaffronWaldenTheBigForest2

And to make the day perfect the invigilator in the gallery had the most magnificent waxed moustache. Really, what more can one ask for?

For those who can’t visit, just click here. The Fry Art Gallery has a comprehensive on-line archive – works catalogued by artist and also technique. Be inspired.


Coming soon for mid-20th Century art nerds, a post about a stunning John Piper stained glass window we discovered a couple of weeks back in a Sussex church.

Great Lodge Farm, Great Bardfield, Essex. 1953. Copyright The Artist. The postcard is now pinned in our workspace and we love it!

About TheBigForest

TheBigForest. A silly artist maker creating in felt and paper construction. Like us on Facebook: TheBigForest. Find us at Twitter : twitter/TheBigForestuk


  1. Pingback: John Peel, 10pm, and growing-up. | thesememorieswhich

  2. lundygirl

    Could take a weeks holiday in that bookshop.

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