Eric Ravilious: Downland Man

Exciting news for Arts Together members in Devizes. This summer they will be involved in a combined project with Wiltshire Museum exploring and responding to the paintings of Eric Ravilious. As well as making their own works of art, they will be taken on a field trip onto the Wiltshire downland and then have their creative interpretations exhibited alongside the Ravilious exhibition later in the year. Our involvement has been made possible by the generous support of the Mercer’s Company.


A groundbreaking exhibition of the celebrated artist Eric Ravilious showcasing the beautiful Wiltshire and Sussex Downlands.

An exciting special exhibition exploring Eric Ravilious’ fascination with the sweeping downland landscapes of Wiltshire and Sussex. His watercolours have such a spirit of place you can almost feel the wind on your cheeks and hear the birds above.

The importance of the downlands to Ravilious is well documented, but this exhibition will be the first to be dedicated solely to this subject. It will explore this area of his work and relate it to the national fascination with downland landscapes, mythology and archaeology, which gripped Britain between the wars. The exhibition will include darkly menacing war-time views of the coastline, including the famous ‘White Cliffs’ of Dover.

For the very first time Wiltshire Museum will be borrowing from major National Museums to bring an international standard art exhibition to the County. The show will appeal to art lovers across the country and to local people who love the iconic local landscapes.  We have confirmed important loans from Tate and V&A as well as private lenders. We are also liaising with the Imperial War Museum, British Museum, National Museum of Wales and the prestigious Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne, as well as private lenders, to secure a significant range of evocative watercolours for the display.

The exhibition is masterminded by our guest curator, James Russell. James created the enormously successful Ravilious exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in 2015. He will also write an illustrated catalogue to accompany the exhibition.

Items from our own Designated collections will be included in the exhibition. A highlight will be a sketch book Ravilious created in 1939 for the ‘Puffin’ series of children’s books. Although never published, it contains delicate pencil drawings of chalk hill figures, ancient monuments and prehistoric earthworks in Wiltshire. The idea behind the series of books was to promote patriotism in the youth of England as the Second World War loomed.

We need your help to bring this important exhibition to Wiltshire.  An exhibition of this quality is very expensive and we still need to raise over £30,000 (of the £65,000 required).  Please support our appeal – your donation will provide invaluable match-funding for grant applications.

To date (January 2020) we have secured funding from the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, the Mercers’ Company, The Golsoncott Foundation and the Verdon Smith Family Charitable Settlement.  Corporate sponsors include Gaiger Construction and Development and Wansbroughs Solicitors, and a number of donations from private individuals.

We will also be organising an events programme linked to the exhibition. If you are interested in bringing a group to see the exhibition, having a guided tour or a lecture to your group, then please get in touch – [email protected].