Friday, October 12, 2012

Robin Tanner

The notion of place is important to many artists. Significant places become a stimulus for their creativity and a means of focusing their attention on parts of the environment they form special bonds with. In the work of Robin Tanner who was born in Bristol in 1904, the area of North West Wiltshire became a place of personal significance and reflection. From as early as 1927 many of his etchings are based on an idealistic unspoiled view of the Wiltshire landscape. Since their marriage in 1931 Robin and his wife Heather lived at Old Chapel Field in the village of Kington Langley, Wiltshire.  
The Road Maker, etching 1928 (first edition)
 In 1924 while Robin Tanner taught at Blackheath Road Boys School in Greenwich by day, he became an evening student at Goldsmiths College London under the instruction of Stanley Anderson.  While at Goldsmiths he became friends with many of the day students including Paul Drury took Tanner under his wing.  He invited him home to Lancaster Lodge to meet his father, the artist, Alfred Drury and was instrumental in introducing him to a number of other artists and print dealers such as David Strang and John Nicholson. In 1928 Tanner became a full time student at Goldsmiths. In that same year he also bought the Old Chapel Field property at Wiltshire.
The Hedger, etching 1928 (first edition)

The first two etchings included, “The Road Maker” and “The Hedger”1928 were among Tanners earliest and were intended to be part of a series on the theme of country labours. The “Woodman” was the only other etching in the series to be completed.  Both etchings show the influence of the Goldsmiths students as well as of Palmer and Griggs but in particular of Griggs.  Tanner met Griggs on varnishing day at the Royal academy in 1929.
In many of Tanners later etchings like” Gray’s Elegy” 1980, illustrated (from the memorial portfolio),  a combination of natural and rustic man made forms  frame the view into a distant often moonlit  field  of hedgerows, villages and forests. 
Gray's Elergy, 1980 (from the memorial portfolio)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

John Wills

I occasionally purchase unknown etchings because something about them is very appealing. It draws me in. Initially I am often not sure why I respond to such works, but my reaction is to purchase them initially and find more about them at a later time when I come across more information. Our personal response to images may be triggered by something about an image which touches us personally or our knowledge of other works which are similar in style or content that link the work in question to others that have come before.
Piper, 1936
Such is the case in point with the two John Wills etchings on this post. When I found these etchings I was immediately drawn into the Palmer like world he had created within these small works.  In “the Piper” etching the musician plays his tune to mysterious figure inside one of the small rustic cottages in the valley.   The other etching “The High Hedge” or “Twilight of the World”?  (1936) also contains elements of rustic villages and exotic foliage and an illuminating lantern in the foreground. Both etching have a miniature jewel  like quality that are reminiscent of the primitive quality of some of the work produced by the Ancients during their time in Shoreham.
The High hedge, 1936
I know very little about the artist  but I  know that John Wills studied at the Royal College of Art sometime in the 30’s under the instruction of Robert Austin and Malcolm Osborne.  After leaving college he lived and worked in Gloucestershire.