Literature: Hornet & Wild Rose, The Art of Tirzah Garwood, by Anne Ullmann, The Fleece Press, 2020
As a student, Garwood had excelled as a wood engraver. During her 30’s she began painting in oils, but also produced a series of captivating images of local Essex houses and shop fronts, (1944‚Äì1949). She soon developed her own distinctive style, where each one was lovingly recorded with a mixture of print and collage which she assembled and sometimes constructed into a 3D model in a shallow box frame.
Tirzah’s curiosity in individual shops or dwelling houses as a subject may have been stimulated when Eric Ravilious was researching material for a book of unusual shops that he planned to illustrate with lithographic plates. High Street was published in 1938 by Noel Carrington, at that time the innovative publisher of Country Life Books.
Tirzah appears to have been excluded from involvement in High Street, but the very fact that Eric was involved in this research is likely to have heightened her awareness of the richness of the architecture and unspoilt charm of the nearby villages. When looking back in 1942, and writing of Great Bardfield in her autobiography, it was not the great historic houses, but the shops and shopkeepers that captivated her attention:
Great Bardfield was a Y-shaped village and one of the most attractive things about it were the shops. The shopkeepers had wonderfully appropriate names and Mr Bone the butcher was the Happy Family Butcher in the flesh and his shop with its shutter edged edged with a little wood balustrade, was like a dolls shop. The other butcher, Mr Stokes, had a particularly lovely ship with his name written in fine square letters of ochre edged with red on a blue board. The three grocers were called Piper, Odd and Tanner and the Bakers were Geurneys and Prances.
We are indebted to Anne Ullman and Simon Lawrence for her assistance.