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The Crack Magazine

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Eric Ravilious: Drawn to War

Director: Margy Kinmouth

Features: Freddy Fox, Tamsin Grieg, Al Weiwei, Grayson Perry, Alan Bennett

Released on the eightieth anniversary of this death, this engaging documentary charts the career of British artist Eric Ravilious, mainly focused on his World War II work. Freddy Fox narrates from Eric’s correspondence with his wife Tirzah (Tamsin Grieg reads Tirzah’s letters). Graduating from Eastbourne College, the cheerfully pragmatic Ravilious was able to make a living through commercial illustrations and crockery design. He married Tirzah against the wishes of her parents who thought he was a little below the salt. His watercolour paintings depicted typically English scenes, such as the interiors of a third class railway carriage or an outdoor breakfast scene. Working in watercolours meant perhaps his work was not taken as seriously, but as fan Alan Bennett points out, there’s a sense of unease about some of the pictures and an unsettling absence of people. The outbreak of WWII, saw Ravilious become an official war artist which meant not only a much-needed regular wage, but a fascinating new avenue of subject matter. The picture may have worked just as well on the small screen but it’s genuinely illuminating with insightful contributions from fellow artist Ai Weiwei and Grayson Perry. It’s also the story of his wife Tirzah, herself a skilled artist, having to tolerate her husband’s affairs in the early days of their marriage and left at home with their children in their draughty house while the artist was relishing his wartime adventures.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm