Banner: Eric Ravilious (1903-1942) Rye Harbour (detail), 1958 Pencil and watercolour © The Estate of Eric Ravilious

During our closure, we kept in touch with our wonderful team of volunteers through weekly newsletters. We shared what everyone was doing at home, as well as information about what we were working on in the meantime. In these newsletters, we also asked members of staff, and volunteers, to write a short piece about their favourite artwork from The Ingram Collection. We spend all day walking amongst these phenomenal artworks, so this was a great chance to refocus and share what we love most about them.

The write-ups were so interesting we wanted to share them with you all. An insight into our teams’ thoughts about the artworks we work with day-to-day and a chance to look at some of these artworks in a different way. So here goes!

© Henri Gaudier Brzeska, Maternity, c.1913 / 1965-66, bronze with a dark brown patina, courtesy of The Ingram Collection

Henri Gaudier Brzeska, Maternity, c.1913/1965-66
By Julie Hynes, Visitor Experience Manager

Born in France, Gaudier-Brzeska moved to London in 1910. Although a founding member of the Vorticist group, much of his work is in the figurative tradition due to his being influenced by primitive images of the human form he saw at the British Museum. At the outbreak of WWI, he enlisted with the French Army, where he was decorated for bravery before being killed in 1915 aged 23.

His sculpture 'Maternity' has featured in several exhibitions at The Lightbox. Its shiny, tactile surface depicts a nude mother and child locked in a protective embrace. It is an emotive piece that is best viewed in the round, as the tightly entwined embrace of the two figures prevents either one from being seen in its entirety from any one viewpoint. The two are one. Originally carved in marble by the artist in 1913, this bronze cast is one of 7 produced in 1965/6 by H. S. Eade. The original marble figure is at the Museum of Modern Art, Paris.

What is your favourite representation of the human form in The Ingram Collection? How important do you think evocation of emotion is in conveying humanity through art?

© Dora Carrington, Iris Tree on a Horse, c.1920s, ink, oil, silver foil, and mixed media on glass, courtesy of The Ingram Collection

Dora Carrington, Iris Tree on a Horse, c.1920s
By Marilyn Scott, Director

I have always been fascinated by this small jewel-like painting on glass from the collection. The subject of the painting is fascinating with its medieval feel and features Iris Tree, who was an artist’s model and actress and was depicted many times by members of the Bloomsbury Group. The artist herself was a significant figure associated with the Bloomsbury Group and has many stories told about her life, which sadly ended with her suicide in 1932.

I suppose my interest in Carrington, as she was known, stems from having attended the same school as her in Bedford. Her parents paid for her to receive extra lessons in drawing, and she won a number of awards in the national school competitions organised by the Royal Drawing Society. In 1910, she went to the Slade School of Art at University College, London where she subsequently won a scholarship and several other prizes; her fellow students included Dorothy Brett, Paul Nash, Christopher R. W. Nevinson, and Mark Gertler.

From her time at the Slade onwards, she was known simply by her surname as she considered Dora to be "vulgar and sentimental". She was not well known as a painter during her lifetime, as she rarely exhibited and did not sign her work. She worked for a while at the Omega Workshops, and for the Hogarth Press, designing woodcuts. Carrington was not a member of the Bloomsbury Group, though she was closely associated with Bloomsbury and, more generally, with "Bohemian" attitudes, through her long relationship with the homosexual writer Lytton Strachey, whom she first met in 1916.

Carrington first set up house with Lytton Strachey in November 1917, when they moved together to Tidmarsh Mill House, near Pangbourne, Berkshire. Carrington met Ralph Partridge, an Oxford friend of her younger brother Noel, in 1918. Partridge fell in love with Carrington and eventually, in 1921, Carrington agreed to marry him.

During her lifetime, Carrington's work received no critical attention. The lack of encouragement may have kept her from displaying her artwork. Carrington's work can be described as progressive because it did not fit into the mainstream of art in England at the time. In fact, her work was not considered art at all. It featured Victorian-style pictures that were made from coloured tinfoil and paper. She also created woodblock prints, which were highly regarded. Her lesser-known work included painted pub signs and murals, ceramics, fireplaces, and tin trunks.

What do you think, can art made from tinfoil and paper, be considered 'art'? What about pub signs, fireplaces, and tin trunks, do they count as 'art'? Are you being creative in lockdown with items from around the house?

© Mark Gertler, The Doll, 1914, oil on canvas, courtesy of The Ingram Collection

Mark Gertler, The Doll, 1914
By Pru Shackley, Operations Director

This oil painting by the troubled artist Mark Gertler always holds my attention when it is on display at The Lightbox. The oils have a luminescent quality that makes the subjects of doll and fruit shine in a way that almost brings them to life.

The artist, born Marks Gertler to Jewish Polish immigrants in Spitalfields in 1891, lived a life that was full of trials and tribulations.

He had an impoverished childhood but showed artistic talent from a young age and in 1907 at the age of 16, he was accepted at the Slade School of Art. His contemporaries there included Paul Nash, C.R.W. Nevinson, and Stanley Spencer, and whilst there he also met his first love, the artist Dora Carrington.

Gertler pursued Carrington for many years and his obsessive love for her was represented in the feature film 'Carrington' in 1995. Sadly, his love was unrequited and when she eventually married Ralph Partridge, Gertler was said to be so distraught that he tried to purchase a revolver and threatened to commit suicide.

At the time that Gertler painted 'The Doll' he had enveloped himself in London's cultural life and was friends with members of both the Camden Town Group and the Bloomsbury Group.

The author Virginia Woolf wrote of Gertler after he stayed with her and her husband in Sussex in 1918: "Good God, what an egoist! We have been talking about Gertler to Gertler for some 30 hours… However this is honestly outspoken, & as I say, he has power & intelligence, & will, one sees, paint good interesting pictures, though some rupture of the brain would have to take place before he could be a painter."

Gertler did eventually marry in 1930 and had a son, Luke Gertler, in 1932. However, the marriage was destined to be short-lived. From the 1920s Gertler suffered from tuberculosis and this, coupled with his fragile personal life, led to increasing depressive episodes. This sadly resulted in his suicide in 1939, some seven years after his first love’s Dora Carrington's suicide.

Do you think art and emotion are intrinsically linked? As Virginia Woolf declared, is a touch of egoism essential to the artistic process? Let us know your thoughts.

© Eric Ravilious, Rye Harbour, 1938, pencil and watercolour, courtesy of The Ingram Collection

Eric Ravilious, Rye Harbour, 1938
By Julie Hynes, Visitor Experience Manager

A watercolour painter, printmaker and designer, Eric Ravilious (1903-1942), studied at the Eastbourne School of Art and at the Royal College of Art under Paul Nash 1922-5.

Ravilious produced designs for Wedgwood, including the celebration mug for the coronation of King Edward VIII in 1936. He also designed glass for Stuart Crystal, furniture for Dunbar Hay, and advertisements for London Transport.

He was an official War Artist for the Second World War and died when his aircraft went missing off the coast of Iceland in 1942.

In his 1938 piece, Rye Harbour, the restrained palette captures the clarity of light in the early morning. The sun is reflected on the water as the harbour walls converge to reach towards a suggested horizon. One of the most popular artists in The Ingram Collection, Ravilious’s admiration for the English countryside shines through his work.

In our Shop, Ravilious greeting cards are consistently amongst our best sellers and it’s easy to see why.

Oh, how we miss our Shop! What are your favourite items you’ve bought from us? We often joke that our volunteers are our best customers, so come on, confess - and send pictures!

© Lucy Gregory, Images Have Legs, 2018, Kinetic sculpture activated by audience participation, courtesy of The Ingram Collection

Lucy Gregory, Images Have Legs, 2018
By Alexandra Corneanu, Marketing & Communications Officer

Lucy Gregory (b.1994) is a British artist based in London, and a recent graduate of the Royal College of Art and the Ruskin School of Art. Working in sculpture and photography, she creates large-scale works that explore themes of materiality, virtuality, and the theatricality of flatness – engaging with conflicting notions of humour and constraint, she creates devices that lure in the audience.

Her work entitled 'Images Have Legs' (2018) was acquired by The Ingram Collection last year after Lucy became one of the three Young Contemporary Talent 2019 Purchase Prize winners. The sculpture, a kinetic contraption activated by audience participation, seems uncanny and displaced in its scale and subject matter. The legs appear suspended, out of context, even cartoonish, while their inanimate nature seems to entice the viewer to become part of the unfolding of the work. The sculpture lies in waiting, ready to be brought to life by a passer-by as they enter the environment.

Personally, I feel that Lucy’s work pushes the boundaries of both sculpture and photography, expanding their respective fields. It immediately makes me think of surrealism, Man Ray, Eadweard Muybridge, and all the innovative ideas that photography inspired in the first decades after its creation – the ongoing debate about the medium’s originality, its capacity for reproduction, the capability to replicate reality to a certain extent.

"Images have agency too, driven by desires, needs, appetites, and demands similar to other organic ecosystems. 'Images have legs' as they travel through digital networks, entering and departing from the material world through methods of re-printing, re-photographing, and re-purposing", Lucy said.

I love the kinetic component of her sculpture, the fact that the work changes and becomes whole with each audience interaction. To me, it underlines the core principle of art, or as philosopher Arthur C. Danto wrote, that works of art are "embodied meanings", and it is the viewer’s "job" to activate those meanings, to put them into context.

What do you think? Do you like the hands-on, audience participatory, nature of this artwork? Should art be observed, or should it be experienced?