Eric Ravilious is a name that has almost become synonymous with Eastbourne, Lewes, Newhaven and the surrounding area. Although born in London, the well-known painter, designer, book illustrator and wood engraver grew up in East Sussex when his family moved to Eastbourne. These days, his distinctive work, often described as “off-kilter, modernist” is frequently used to symbolise some of our distinctive Sussex landscapes and Sussex wears his paintings with pride, like a badge of honour.
A friendship with Sussex-based artist Peggy Angus took Ravilious to her home near Firle Lewes (Furlongs) and so began a love of the South Downs and their surrounds. With such distinctive style, some of his most well-known work includes Beachy Head Lighthouse, Tea at Furlongs, the Long Man at Wilmington and Chalk Paths.
Newhaven is within walking distance of Furlongs and Ravilious regularly visited and painted the town and port, as well as the coastal defences. Between September and October 1940, he climbed up to the fort and painted its ditches and retaining walls perched on the cliffs and overlooking the harbour. A number of these Coastal Defences paintings are now held in the collections of the Imperial War Museum and Aberdeen Art Gallery. Ravilious died while on active service in 1942. One of the largest collections of his work is now held at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne.
Following Ravilious – Newhaven Views
Following Ravilious – Newhaven Views is a free public art trail taking place from 1st August to 29th October 2023. It involves giant billboards of his work placed around the town as well as work from contemporary artists; Emily Allchurch, Jo Lamb, Charlie Prodger, and Mark Titchner, and their responses inspired by Ravilious and the modern Newhaven landscape. The public art trail has been curated collaboratively with local champions from Newhaven’s art scene and forms part of Towner’s centenary celebrations demonstrating the gallery’s commitment to contemporary art in East Sussex. The project highlights how Newhaven continues to inspire artists living and working today, nearly 100 years on from Ravilious’ time.
Join a community walkabout following Ravilious in Newhaven
Hospitable Environment, a local community arts organisation, is inviting everyone to a free evening walk along the “Following Ravilious” trail. The walk will start at 6.30 pm on Thursday 10th August at The Sidings, on Newhaven’s Railway Approach, and it will take visitors around the four “Following Ravilious” billboard locations. After the walk, there will be snacks to share, and the chance to enjoy a sociable game of pétanque on the West Quay and to get a drink at The Hope Inn (a one-time haunt of Ravilious himself!). There is no need to pre-book and everyone is invited. The trail will end at 9 pm on the green opposite The Hope Inn, West Quay, Newhaven BN9 9DN.
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