Sunday, May 14, 2017

Remembering Reculver by Robert Preston

In Townsville we have rarely been blessed with visits by art experts and cognoscenti from overseas. However thanks to Ron McBurnie this April turned out to be something of an exception in the event of a visit from UK of Mr Jolyon Drury the Author of Revelation to Revolution: The Legacy of Samuel Palmer, The revival and evolution of pastoral printmaking by Paul Drury and the Goldsmith’s School of the 20th Century.

We were entertained with a fascinating and scholarly presentation regarding his father the distinguished artist-printmaker Paul Drury. It was a great experience to be afforded the unique insights that can only come from a close family member, into the career and character of his father and circle of artists he was part of.

As an overview of the talk has already been provided, my attention to one print in particular namely Paul Drury’s  A Distant View of Reculver  1932, a small and for Drury a rather spare etching depicting a view of the abbey-church towers at Reculver.  It is probably worth mentioning that Reculver-from the Roman name REGULBIUM-is situated on the north Kent coast in the south east of England, facing the north sea and located between Herne Bay and Westgate.  I thought it might be of interest to share the reasons for one small print resonating with me so profoundly.  The image of the towers was for me immediately recognizable, as I had seen them from a similar distance on many occasions over a number of years. 
Paul Drury, unpublished etching, "A Distant View of Reculver"  1932.
Although Drury’s view was made from St Nicholas at Wade, which is several miles inland, and some 4 ¾ miles from Reculver, my view of the towers was from Minnis Bay, Burchington on sea, which is only 3 ½ miles distant.  The towers do however look very similar from both locations, but what is different is the foreground and middle distance.  The prospect from St Nicholas, as depicted so well by Drury, is of flat grassy fields with small stands of trees which extend into the marshlands.  Although St Nicholas is very close to Minnis Bay the view is significantly different.  Seeing Drury’s print not only reminded me of the many wonderful childhood summer holidays spent there but also the fact that the view of Reculver towers as seen from Minnis Bay was also the subject of my very first faltering attempts at plein air painting.  

View of Reculver towers from the direction of Minnis bay

The towers held a great fascination for me, mysteriously silhouetted against a summer sky in the late afternoon, sitting atop a promontory which marked the western extremity of the sweeping curve of the bay like a “full stop”.  To the right a view of the vast expanse of the North Sea, glittering in the sunlight  and the curving beach with its hundreds of black breakwaters surmounted by a sea wall – originally a huge earthen bank covered with grass and wild plants.  To the left there were flat grassy marshlands, punctuated by dykes extending away to the distant railway line (and though unseen) to St Nicholas at Wade the location from which Drury made his print. Skylarks were always to be seen over the marshes with their peculiar dipping flight and wonderful trilling song perhaps “the quintessential sound of an English summer”. 

As a post script I should like to mention that in spite of the fact that I went to Burchington on so many occasions and that Reculver towers were ever present on the western horizon, strangely I never actually got to see them up close until the summer of 2003 – some 4 ½ decades later – whilst on a family visit to the UK from Australia. 

·         Burgess, Jennie (2010) Burchington Kaleidoscope, Birchington Heritage Trust, UK., P65.
·         Wilmot, Tony(n.d.) Richborough and Reculver, English Heritage Guidebooks, UK

·         Kenyan, Gregory, British Wild life Recordings, British Library, bl.UK

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Paul Drury Lecture in Townsville

On Thursday the 20th of April 2017 at Umbrella Studio Contemporary Arts Townsville (Australia), Jolyon Drury delivered an evening lecture relating to his father Paul Drury and the artists he befriended and worked with during his life. In spite of the presentation night being a week night, more than forty people from the Townsville arts community were in attendance. 
Jolyon’s lecture encompassed the personal, the historical, and the visual world surrounding the artist Paul Drury. As the son of this prominent British artist, Jolyon was able to deliver rare personal insights into the artist’s life and work and link them with unique visual examples (from his own personal collection.)
 He spoke about Paul Drury’s time at Goldsmiths College and the strong and long lasting friendships which arose between artists such as Edward Bouvery-Hoyton, Graham Sutherland, William larkins and Alexander Walker. Jolyon showed rare examples of Drury’s preliminary drawings which due to circumstances were never developed into editioned etchings (Barn Interior Graphite drawing 1923) or important studies made prior to the making of etchings such as those for September, 1928. 

Paul Drury, Barn Interior 1923

Paul Drury Pencil study for "September' 1928

 Information about of Paul’s, father the great British sculptor Alfred Drury was also shared during the lecture.  Jolyon discussed Alfred’s friendship with Paul’s circle of friends as well the undocumented assistance Paul gave to Alfred in regard to the construction of some of his major commissions. Such commitments of time and energy may have greatly impacted on the personal work Paul Drury may have produced during those extended periods. 
The lecture was packed with gems of information that gave us an informative and rare personal insight into the life of an often underrated, but significant 20th Century artist. 
After the lecture ended guests were invited talk with Jolyon individually as well as to view a number of original etchings (from a local private collection) by Paul Drury and other artists with whom he was associated.
A book relating to the lecture and written by Jolyon Drury was also available for purchase for those wanting to know more about this important period of British printmaking.
Revelation to Revolution: The Legacy of Samuel Palmer, The revival and evolution of pastoral printmaking by Paul Drury and the Goldsmith’s School of the 20th Century.

ISBN-10:0-9552148-0-7  ISBN-13:9-780955-214806
If you are interested in purchasing a copy of the book please email (in Australia) (in the UK)  

Paul Drury, unpublished etching, "A Distant View of Reculver"  1932.