Saturday, 16 February 2013

Ravilious, Bristol, and submarines

I've been enjoying James Russell's new book, Ravilious: Submarine, because I like Eric Ravilious' pictures and I've never seen the complete series of submarine pictures he produced during his time (subsequently and sadly cut short) as a war artist.

Apart from the submarine pics, there's loads of other stuff giving context and influences, and it was nice finding a picture from David Inshaw there too, another fave artist!

I took the pictures here down in Bristol city docks, because they've got a Ravilious connection too; before the war, he nearly got run over by a train here...

 "...when Eric had decided to go on drawing outside after dark, and was working intently on his picture of a paddle steamer, he had suddenly heard a grinding noise and a voice calling out, 'lucky for you I saw you, old cock, or you'd have been a box of cold meat.' Eric had set up his easel, without noticing it was on the tracks of one of those light railways that are used in the docks." (Helen Binyon)

 Eric Ravilious: P&A Campbell's 'Britannia'
Sealink IOW ferry 'Southsea'
Mardyke wharf, Bristol

Perhaps this is the picture that he was working on at that time. Here is P&A Campbell's paddle steamer, Britannia, on Mardyke Wharf. And below it is a more recent visitor, the former Sealink Isle of Wight ferry Southsea, which failed to get preserved and ended up scrapped. I once took a trip on this boat, across the Solent. I was working for Sealink IOW at the time, on their car ferries. I sat in the crew mess on the trip; they whiled away the time on the voyage by drinking Stella and doing hot knives on the stove.


  1. I don't get to bookshops much these days since borders closed down a few years ago, it was just about the only shop in town I visited except for food shops...

    have been wanting to see this book since I first heard about it though I was hoping something in it's production would stop me buying it, just heating a few rooms is now such an expensive thing we dare not spend until the final winter gas bill arrives...

    Sadly it looks too good...

    1. Coline, There's a competition to win a copy of the book on the Ravilious in Pictures Facebook page - worth a go!

  2. His style looks familiar - I suppose my uncle would have had books with pictures in by him? Great background.

  3. Now why didnt I think of taking pictures by the docks?! Theyre great, Dru, thanks!

  4. Gripping stuff, Dru...

    Those submarine pictures seem curiously familiar to me, perhaps from my childhood, but I had no idea of who they were by.


  5. Great post - thanks Dru! Love the Binyon quote and amazing to think Rav set up his easel alongside his friend, John Nash in Bristol Docks. Must go and explore next time I'm in Bristol! Tim

  6. I know what you mean, Anji and Chrissie; there is something familiar in the style, isn't there?

    Hi, James and Tim. Thank you. You did well with the book!