5 May 2013 – Nick Crane, Artists’ Relatives, Cyril Barraud’s 1936 Etchings, Photographing Kent Locations

Phew… a long time since the last post – my April wedding arrangements took priority I’m afraid… oh dear, what a poor excuse!

I have spent some enjoyable times recently with Nick Crane, the TV presenter of Coast, Town, and several other travel programmes. He’s a relative of Freda Marston, the only female carriage print artist and I have been helping him in his collection of her artwork and prints. Like many other artists just after the war, Freda had to take on commercial work to survive. Nick is a very genuine and enthusiastic chap and a real pleasure to be with. We are hoping to do a small TV feature on Freda’s work at some stage, whilst visiting the carriage print locations she painted.

Other artists’ relatives visited recently have been Claude Buckle’s son, Terence, and wife Andrea – again, very enthusiastic collectors’ of the artist’s work and good friends. Wenonah Driscall, Jack Merriott’s daughter, has been in contact, too, and with the families, we have managed to get together a fair collection of Jack and Claude’s paintings over the years. When I have finished the now long-overdue, hopefully improved and definitely expanded third edition of Landscapes under the Luggage Rack  I aim to finish and produce books on both Buckle and Merriott.

I met Alasdair Macfarlane’s granddaughter a couple of times recently. I had purchased an original oil painting of his “MV Loch Seaforth at Armadale“ and then found out that it was the original artwork for the BR/ Caledonian Macbrayne “The Fast Route to Skye” poster which delighted Rosemary and Peter, her husband, no end, especially when it ended up in their possession.

Continuing on with artists, it was a great surprise to see the studio of Cyril H Barraud come up for sale in Canterbury recently, considering he died in 1965. I successfully bid on the phone for several lots of his non-railway etchings. He was a prolific etcher , mainly for book illustrations, and many of his views, especially of London, are quite  stunning. Etching was a real skill and some of the carriage print artists such as Frank Mason and Kenneth Steel had a real grounding in this form of art. Included in the sale were a few of the original copper plates where Barraud’s scenes were engraved before the application of ink and the production of the finished pictures.

One of the great treasures in this sale was two examples of his original coloured etchings for the pioneering 1936 LNER series. Both these images must have been rejected by the LNER as, as far as I am aware, they were never published by the railway. I recognised one immediately as Aysgarth Falls, Yorkshire but Richard Furness helped me to identify the other as Harrogate, Yorkshire [aysgarth barraud - Copy (1024x385) harrogate barraud - Copy (1024x385)]. Fascinating to see these two views and I can only assume that the locations were omitted to leave a simple balance of eight views each by both Mason and Barraud in this series. I have added these two etchings to my listing of un-issued carriage prints which is now visible and available via my Travelling Art Gallery website.

One of the interesting aspects of the materials in the sale was the use of different trials for colour washes used by Barraud in the production of his etchings. Colours of trees and mountains were changed to get different effects before reaching satisfactory results. Whereas the lithographed carriage prints varied little in colour and tone (unless the printer had dozed off during the process!), most etchings of the same subject can vary in tone and colour and it is unusual to find two exactly the same. Far fewer etchings can be produced from a plate than the later lithographic process. They are a great scarcity anyway, despite the fact that the LNER advertised and sold them through the Railway Magazine in 1936 and through their travel bureaux. Not surprising really, as they cost 10 shillings and sixpence each, unframed – more than a week’s wages then. It is generally recognised now in the art world that etchings are relatively undervalued compared to other limited edition artworks.

SRA at Derby and GCRA at Stoneleigh seemed quite buoyant and saw relatively good prices for carriage prints considering the economic climate. Several new collectors helped things along and it’s been great getting to know some new faces. The continued female interest in the subject is a large factor in maintaining popularity for the genre and this was certainly demonstrated at the successful exhibition stand we had at the recent London Model Railway Exhibition at ‘Ally Pally’, despite the arctic blizzard conditions.

Due to the need to visit Kent recently, it gave me the opportunity to photograph some of the carriage print locations in the county. Many of the subjects are clustered around Romney Marsh and it didn’t take long to drive around most of the places and photograph them on what was a rare, sunny day in February. The only really awkward location turned out to be the Cinque Port of Hythe. The Martello tower featured in the image is still there, close to the fishing huts but, unfortunately, it now lies within the M.O.D. firing range and is fenced off out of bounds! I went as close as I could to the perimeter fence to photograph the foreshortened view and managed to attract some fierce and concerned looks from the guards in the security building! Perhaps in my next BLOG I may list all of the ‘awkward’ carriage print locations where photography is limited or involves restricted access, permission to enter a site, or the use of a boat to photograph the view! (Frank Mason was the chief culprit of the latter scenario, without doubt).  I would be happy to pay for any successful photos of these places if photographed from the exact spot the artist was placed for the painting or as close as you can get if circumstances dictate or your life is in danger in the process! Anyway – more of this in the next BLOG.

Kind regards to all readers,

PS I have listed a lot more artwork and prints on my website recently, so do visit www.travellingartgallery.com to see what’s available.