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.


callmemadam said...

What a lovely post! I'm interested in stamp design and hadn't known about Enid Marx.

My garden is full of primroses in flower, in spite of the bitter cold. In fact, you could probably find one almost any day of the year. No wonder they're my favourite flowers. I'm sending you some virtual ones.

Maggie said...

Gosh, seeing that plush from the underground takes me right back to being a small child and going on the tube into London. As to primroses, we've just been to Abersoch for a few days, and the primroses are blooming in the hedge by our caravan, lots of buds still coming, so I think that these are the first flowers of the year.

Alex said...

I love Compton Verney but hadn't connected to the fact that it was open again yet simply because of the weather. Did you know that when Peter Hall made a film of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' back in the late 60s it was filmed at Compton Verney?

mary said...

Thank you, Callmemadam. Maybe I've not been looking hard enough - but it's so cold that I'm getting most of my exercise in museums!
On the plus side, I bought a huge bunch of anemones this afternoon for £1. Bargain prices on the flower stall before they expired from the cold.

I spent childhood holidays on a caravan site in Abersoch, Maggie - wonder if it's the same one!

Hello, Alex, thanks for your comment. It only reopened a few days ago. I didn't know about the film, must have been long before the house was restored.

Dark Puss said...

Wild primroses are now in flower near the final approach to Uxbridge Station (Met Line)

mary said...

How lovely. The best primroses - and lilac - are always tantalisingly out of reach along railway lines.

Maggie said...

Come back to thank you for this post as yesterday we went to Compton Verney on the way back from visiting our new Grandson in London. We were very late leaving on Friday evening due to having to wait for a prescription for DD to be dispensed at local chemist - why is everything so complicated! So we ended up caught in the rush hour traffic, plus the satnav sent us via Hyde Park Corner! Eeek! So we drove as far as Warwick Services and spent the night there. We were both totally shattered after several days of "babyising" so it definitely made sense to break our journey home (to Liverpool) and take the time to visit the Enid Marx exhibition. We had intended going on the way down to London, but discovered Compton Vesey is shut on Mondays.

What a beautiful house! Loved the Enid Marx collection, and we also spent more time than intended looking at the folk art in the next room. Ate our lunchtime sausage rolls outside before heading back in to see the Italian Paintings. While it was interesting to see how painting progressed across 500 years there were only two pictures I really loved - St Catherine Crowned, and The Sulky Boy.

I had never heard of Compton Verney before I read your blog post, so thank you for prompting us to visit somewhere new! The fact that the sun shone on us probably helped too, as we did manage to trundle me in the wheelchair around some of the grounds. Love the sphinxes on the bridge!

Oh, our caravan is at Tyddyn Talgoch Uchaf, Bwlchtocyn - try ordering anything to be delivered there over the phone! LOL. My husband spent every summer there since he was about 7! And now our GrandTwins are enjoying playing in the same field. New Grandson will be visiting in August, but I imagine he'll still be sleeping more than playing in the field by then.

mary said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Maggie. Yesterday was just the right kind of day for Compton Verney. I know what you mean about the Italian paintings;easier to admire than to love. But I thought that restoration of the Adoration of the Magi was stunning.

(If anybody from farther afield is reading this, the exhibition of Italian paintings from Glasgow Museum that Maggie mentions will be touring America over the next year or so.)

I've been struggling to remember the name of the farm we stayed on more than 40 years ago - and it suddenly came to me. Rhandir Farm.