firstsite presents a small survey of watercolours by the Essex-based painter and graphic artist, Edward Bawden.
Born in Braintree in 1903, Bawden was one of the most influential British graphic artists of the 20th century. He was a central figure within a community of artists at Great Bardfield, where he lived from 1932 until he moved to Saffron Walden in 1970.
Although he was best known for his prints and commercial illustration work, Bawden painted watercolours throughout his life, studying the details of his immediate surroundings. The paintings in this exhibition depict images of Essex, from scenes of his garden to village churches and farm buildings.
Edward Bawden (b. Braintree, 1903; d. Saffron Walden, 1989) studied at Cambridge School of Art (1919'21) and the Royal College of Art, London (1922'25). As a commercial artist in the 1920s and 30s, he produced designs for companies including London Transport, Twinings Teas and Fortnum & Mason. From 1940 to 1944, he served as an Official War Artist and was awarded a CBE in 1946. He designed a number of murals for buildings including Morley College, London (1928 and 1958), and the Lion and the Unicorn Pavilion for the Festival of Britain (1951). He was awarded Honorary Doctorates from the Royal College of Art (1970) and University of Essex (1974), and was celebrated during his lifetime in exhibitions at the Fine Art Society (1978) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (1988).