New Edward Bawden exhibition opens at The Higgins

Edward Bawden Exhibition: Artist Plantsman
29 January 2022 – 15 January 2023

A new exhibition exploring the artist Edward Bawden’s lifelong love of plants and gardens launches at the Higgins this week (29 January).

Artist Plantsman showcases the work of the influential British artist and designer, drawn exclusively from the Higgins’ Bawden archive.

Every day Edward Bawden would spend an hour in his garden at his home in Great Bardfield before starting work in his art studio.

Plants and gardens were one of the most prominent and constant subjects of not only his work but also his life.

It could be a dangerous hobby, the top joint of Bawden’s index finger had to be removed after it became infected following some rose pruning. His love of new plants could even lead him to advise friends going to the Chelsea Flower Show to take a pair of scissors and an umbrella for covert cuttings.

The new exhibition invites visitors to discover Bawden’s love of plants and gardens through a wide range of his work, including early wallpaper designs, well-known prints, advertising campaigns and private commissions.

Exotic and favoured plants are woven throughout much of Bawden’s work, with ivy tendrils wrapped around wallpaper and exhibition invitation designs, whilst architectural plants like gunnera, hosta and hogweed act as framing devices for images of gardeners and greenhouses.

From the grand gardens of Carthage and the botanical gardens at Kew, to Bawden’s own gardens at his parent’s home in Braintree and his beloved one-acre plot in Great Bardfield, visitors can see Bawden’s passion for plants and gardens across decades of his work, featuring pieces that have never before been on public display.

Visitors will also be able to see The Bilstoe Garden Seat on permanent display. Bawden was commissioned to make it in 1956, resulting in a combination of tradition and modernity patterned with a spider’s web-like design.

Councillor Doug McMurdo, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, said: “The Artist Plantsman exhibition, which opens at The Higgins Bedford at the end of this month, is a fascinating addition to the current collections at the museum and art gallery.

“You’ll get to explore Bawden’s work, some of which haven’t featured in a public display before now, alongside finding out about the man behind the brilliant art”.

Artist Plantsman is free to visit and will run until 15 January 2023. Visit The Higgins Bedford website for more information.

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