This week’s Designer Desire feature is of Londoner, Ron Hitchins (b 1926). He’s had a very diverse and colourful life; as well as producing magnificent, sculptural artworks, he’s been a tailor and British pioneer of Spanish dance. He initiated the Ron Hitchins Dance Bursary and is known in Flamenco dance circles as “El Chino”.
His work – when you come across it – is surprisingly affordable. You can get hold of one of his wall sculptures for less than £100 at auction.
He’s been the subject of a couple of photographers’ projects – here’s what one said about him:
Ron is such an interesting character. In the 1930s, shirts all used to be either cream, white or grey, but Ron used to make his own shirts, similar to ones he is wearing in the photographs. These shirts had very loud patterns and were hugely outrageous in amongst the fashion of the time. Later he explained that a lot of his patterns were stolen and mimicked and he was left behind in this world. However, he still maintained the nickname “The Flash” by his friends due to this love of bright colour and pattern. Later he focussed more on fine art. All the art in the background, including the doors and ceramics were created by him.
Below is a fabulous interview with Hitchins where he doesn’t talk about his art, only his early working life and dancing. Nevertheless, it’s a really interesting watch & listen, and you get a few glimpses of his art on the walls!
We’ve owned two huge examples of artworks by Gerald French, so it’s surprising that we’ve not featured him on our Designer Desire series before now. You can have a look at one of them here.
French (1927-2001) hailed from Bradford and attended Bradford School of Art part-time where he was a contemporary of David Hockney. We’ve included one of a few sketches he did of Hockney in our collage above.
There’s a small number of French’s works in public collections including The Hepworth Wakefield, Bradford Museums and Abbot Hall in Kendal, Cumbria.
Original examples of his work regularly come up for sale at auction – especially up here in Yorkshire.
Edward Bawden (1903–1989) had a long and industrious career producing designs for lots of prestigious clients; companies such as London Transport, Fortnum & Mason, Penguin Books, Poole Potteries, Twinings, the Folio Society and Westminster Bank.
He designed of the Observer Newspaper’s ‘Puzzled Lion and Startled Unicorn’ which adorned their masthead for 50 years. He was an official war artist during the 2nd World War, recording scenes across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
I love his lino-cuts of Brighton landmarks – a couple that I’ve included above – including the Palace Pier and the Royal Pavilion.
There’s an exhibition of a number of his works taking place at the Dulwich Picture Gallery from 23 May to 9 September 2018 if you can get down there. Here’s a little preview…
We’re on the mailing lists of a few national and international auction houses and receive regular alerts about upcoming sales. This week, an email came through from one of them with an image of a lot that immediately caught our eye. It was a painting by Charles Levier (1920-2004).
Levier was Corsican-born, with a French father and American mother. After serving in the French army during the 2nd World War, he divided his time between France and the USA. Examples of his work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, the Atlanta Museum, the Seattle Museum and the San Diego Museum amongst others. His works were collected by celebrities such as Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Baron Edmond de Rothschild and Dean Martin.
He seems to have been hugely prolific and his work is easy to acquire. The price of his original oils vary widely depending on size and subject matter; they’ve sold for anything from $400 to almost $10,000.
In a recent Designer Desire post, Adelle mentioned her favourite Christmas present of the year. Today, Justin’s collection of presents are the focus. As you can see, there’s a bit of a theme. Being an Aries, a small herd of beautiful rams was a perfect gift. We thought that we’d share a few pics as we know there are lots of fellow fans of this type of vintage loveliness.
First, this fabulous 1960s tin serving tray with artwork by Rodney Peppé. These 1960s Crown Merton trays aren’t easy to come by – and the ram in particular is an elusive creature.
It’s one in a series which includes a peacock, tortoise, lion, tiger, squirrel and elephant; these are the ones that we’ve come across, anyway. Isn’t he a gorgeous fellow?!
Then there’s this rare, first edition copy of The Derby Ram by William Stobbs dating from 1975.
A magnificent, giant ram is the star of this picture book. There are charming little rhymes accompanied by glorious illustrations. We’ll have to share some more of them at a later date.
Last, but very much not least, is an original lithograph by a favourite artist of ours – Bernard Buffet.
He’s a bit more subtle that his friends above, but just as gorgeous. In fact, we have a top floor lounge-cum-bedroom where colours are deliberately kept calm and muted – dark greys, creams, wood, leather, wicker – a bit of copper here and there. This fine gentleman will fit right in!
We’ve highlighted Bernard Buffet before on our blog. We have a few of his lovely prints dotted around our house.
Buffet (1928-1999) was hugely successful and extremely prolific – producing over 8,000 paintings in his lifetime. He was described by one biographer as “The modern Mega-Artist”. As part of his exclusive contract with Galerie Drouant-David, the artist staged a major solo exhibition every year. Suffice to say, there are an awful lot of prints and lithographs on the market; check out eBay and Etsy in the first instance. If you have a spare few tens of thousands of pounds, there are also originals to be had on auction sites such as Christies.
Buffet developed Parkinson’s in later years which prevented him from working. The disease was cited as the reason he committed suicide at his home in Tourtour, Provence.
We’ve mentioned Colin Ruffell, our chosen Designer Desire artist, in the past when we acquired a couple of his original paintings a few years ago. We thought we’d share with you a few more of his artworks.
He has a few, very distinctive styles; abstract modernist, impressionist – however, it’s his naive, Cloisonnism paintings that we love the most – especially the vintage examples. Perhaps because it reminds us of the work of Bernard Buffet.
We couldn’t put it better ourselves, so we thought that we’d allow Ruffell to say a little about himself:
Colin Ruffell was born in 1939, then he was bombed, evacuated, educated, expelled, travelled, repatriated, married, bred, qualified and taught; until in 1965, aged 26, he became a full-time professional artist. Since then he is proud and happy to have survived.
This is the point at which we normally add an image of the artist or designer that we’re featuring. However, we couldn’t resist including the following short film of Ruffell’s cat, Trevor!
His vintage work comes up for auction on occasion; there’s currently a lovely example for sale on Etsy.