In 1932 the artist Edward Bawden and his wife Charlotte moved into Brick House, in the Essex village of Great Bardfield, initially sharing the house with another artistic couple, Eric Ravilious and Tirzah Garwood. It was to be the beginning of a fascinating artistic community.
In the years before and during the Second World War painters, printmakers and designers settled in the village, relishing the peace while remaining within easy reach of London. While Bawden and Ravilious saw active service as War Artists (Ravilious dying in 1942), other artists captured the soon-to-change world of rural England through the Recording Britain project.
By the mid-1950s a diverse, innovative but highly creative group had made Bardfield their home – much to the bemusement of the local villagers, who found the complex relationships and artistic focus of the newcomers rather baffling. In 1954 the artists invited the public into their homes and studios to see their work, starting the increasingly popular ‘Open Studios’ movement that now covers the country, and persuading some of their neighbours that artists could be quite normal people after all!