Monday, 25 March 2013
I know I've written before about Compton Verney which is one of the loveliest small art galleries I know. Of course, I was hoping my visit there on Friday might have been a primrose-y jaunt out of London ...
Do you think we might get primroses before June?
One of my favourite things at Compton Verney is the Marx-Lambert collection of very desirable objects that I'd like to take home.
Enid Crystal Dorothy Marx ... isn't that a wonderful name? ... was a contemporary of Eric Ravilious and Eric Bawden at the Royal College of Art. She designed textiles, wallpaper, book jackets, the Coronation stamps ...
Stamp designing is a sort of puzzle. Into this tiny national visiting card has to be fitted the Sovereign's head, the value and the given subject, commemorative or otherwise. Colour is important, for by it both the counter clerk and the public have to recognise the value.
But the project she enjoyed most was the moquette she designed for the seats on London Underground.
The project was great fun because there was a very strict brief. The moquette seating needed to look fresh at all times, even after bricklayers had sat on it.
She disliked the harsh colours of a mass-produced age and preferred the old, fast vegetable and mineral colours. Indigo, Quercitron, Madder red and Walnut, iron black and Buff. I tell you this, not because it is useful, but because Quercitron is a lovely word and I may never get the chance to use it again.
She found inspiration for her paintings in the collection of delightfully quirky objects that she made with her lifelong friend, the social historian Margaret Lambert. Mugs and jugs, corn dollies and scrapbooks ...
See that pretty mug filled with hellebores, above ... you can see it alongside the painting.
Objects are still coming to light. Only recently the lucky person who inherited their house in Hampstead unearthed their collection of buttons.
Enid Marx visited Compton Verney shortly before she died in 1998 and loved it so much that bequeathed her collection.
Since my visit to Compton Verney, I have been living in a dream world where I feel like Bottom in love with Titania (the house). Shakespeare must have based A Midsummer Night's Dream from a walk in the grounds.