Edward Bawden : illustration and design

Sample of wallpaper designed by Edward BawdenEdward Bawden (1903 – 1989) was a British painter, illustrator and graphic artist who produced designs for a wide range of organisations, but is best known for his designs for book covers, posters and prints, and his work as an official War Artist during the Second World War.

Bawden’s work often reflected aspects of English life and England’s townscapes and countryside, in particular, the Essex landscape around his home in the village of Great Bardfield. This exhibition includes a number of examples of Bawden’s work for book designs and illustrations, advertising and other design work from the University of Reading publishing archives and rare book collections, and the library and object collections of the .

A prolific and versatile artist and designer, Bawden belonged to a generation of British artists which included his close friend Eric Ravilious, Kenneth Rowntree, Edward Ardizzone, John Piper and John Aldridge. His book illustration work included book jackets for novels published by Chatto and Windus and some children’s books.

Bawden’s design work included publicity material for firms and organisations such as Fortnum & Mason and London Transport, and he produced designs for a wide range of items including posters, wallpapers, tableware, beer bottle labels and advertisements. As the artist Olive Cook has observed, Bawden’s “delight in pattern, wonderfully ingenious composition … and an irrepressible sense of fun” are all qualities which make both his illustration and design work distinctive and recognisable.

The exhibition will be on display at the Special Collections Service from 10 January until 11 March 2012.

List of exhibits

Life in an English village : sixteen lithographs by Edward Bawden ; with an introductory essay by Noel Carrington. Harmondsworth : Penguin Books, 1949. The King Penguin books ; 51. PRINTING COLLECTION--082-KIN/51, MERL LIBRARY--8540-BAW

For this commission, Bawden drew scenes from his own village, Great Bardfield in Essex, and in depicting scenes from the shops and work places of tradespeople such as the carpenter, saddler, tailor and market gardener, created a record of a vanished way of life.

Lady Filmy Fern, or The voyage of the window box, by Thomas Hennell; illustrated by Edward Bawden. London : Hamish Hamilton, 1980. CHILDREN'S COLLECTION FOLIO--823.9-HEN

Wallpaper sample : Tree and Cow design, 1927. Designed by Edward Bawden and printed by the Curwen Press. MERL 2008/98 [see image at top of page - reproduced by kind permission of the Estate of Edward Bawden].

This was one of a number of wallpaper designs produced by Edward Bawden in the 1920s. Several of his designs had a rural theme which would have brought a touch of the countryside into urban homes of the pre-war era. The papers were designed by Bawden for lino-cut printing, but in 1926 were taken over by the Curwen Press for printing by lithography.

Good food on the AGA, by Ambrose Heath ; with a note on jam making, fruit bottling and bread making, by Miss M. Frood, M.B.E. ; decorated by Edward Bawden. London : Faber & Faber, 1933. RESERVE--641.5942-HEA

Bawden’s images on rural themes for this guide to operating and cooking on an Aga cooker are some of the most evocative of their time. The seasonal recipes are organised into months and Bawden’s illustrations feature as chapter headers for each month.

A selection of Shell guides, published by Faber & Faber in the 1950s and 1960s, featuring designs from the You Can be Sure of Shell poster campaign designed by Edward Bawden. From the Printing Collection, University of Reading rare books collection.

Bawden produced illustrations for a series of You Can be Sure of Shell advertisements, and the poet and writer John Betjeman, who worked for ShellMex for a time, wrote some, if not all, of the slogans for the adverts.

The Arabs, text by R.B. Serjeant; illustrations by Edward Bawden. [Harmondsworth : Penguin Books] (Printed at the Curwen Press, [1947]. PRINTING COLLECTION--953-SER

The Queen's beasts : an account with new drawings of the heraldic animals which stood at the entrance to Westminster Abbey on the occasion of the Coronation of ... Queen Elizabeth II ... 1953. [Described by H. Stanford London] ; [with a foreword by Sir George Bellew, illustrated in colour by Edward Bawden and Cecil Keeling; heraldic figures sculptured by James Woodford]. London : Newman Neame, [1954]. Lithographic plates drawn by T.E. Griffits. Typography and design by John Lewis. PRINTING COLLECTION FOLIO--929.8-LON

Adam and Evelyn at Kew, or Revolt in the gardens, by Robert Herring ; illustrated by Edward Bawden. London : Elkin Mathews & Marrot, Ltd., 1930. ELKIN MATHEWS COLLECTION

A selection of publicity material for Fortnum & Mason from the 1950s and 1960s, featuring illustrations by Edward Bawden. PRINTING COLLECTION--658.874085-FOR

Reduced reproduction of Kew Gardens, a 1936 poster which Bawden designed for London Underground.

This advertisement was one of many posters that Bawden designed for London Transport. The original poster was printed lithographically at the Curwen Press from lino cuts. On loan from a private collection.

'That's what we want! Dried beet pulp plain or molassed'. Reduced black and white reproduction of a poster for the Empire Marketing Board, printed at the Curwen Press, 1930. On loan from a private collection.

Artwork and correspondence relating to a design by Edward Bawden for the cover for The Flight from the Enchanter by Iris Murdoch, published by Chatto and Windus in 1956. From the Chatto and Windus publishers archive collection. Correspondence (CW 548/2)

Artwork relating to a design by Edward Bawden for the cover for A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes, from the Centaur Library book series published by Chatto and Windus in 1931. From the Chatto and Windus publishers archive collection.

No love [by] David Garnett. London : Chatto & Windus, 1929 (May 1929 printing). Part of the Centaur Library book series published by Chatto and Windus, with book jacket designed by Edward Bawden. FINZI BOOK ROOM--SHELF 23B/29

A selection of the Good Food guides by Ambrose Heath, published by Faber & Faber, 1935-40. With illustrations by Edward Bawden. From the Reserve Collection, University of Reading rare books collection.

Dunlopera : the works and workings of the Dunlop Rubber Company / Paul Jennings ; with drawings [lino-cuts] by Edward Bawden. London : Privately published, Dunlop Rubber Company, 1961. Designed by John Lewis... printed and bound by W.S. Cowell, Ltd. PRINTING COLLECTION--678.0942-DUN/JEN  

Further reading

Edward Bawden & his circle : the inward laugh by Malcolm Yorke. Woodbridge : Antique Collectors' Club, 2007. 

Available for reference use at the Special Collections Service FOLIO--759.2-BAW/YOR

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