Advent Artists: James Ravilious

Every day during Advent 2015 we’ll feature a different South West artist. We’ve framed, printed or exhibited the artists featured in Advent Artists.

14th December: James Ravilious

James Ravilious was the second son of artist Eric Ravilious, he was born in Eastbourne in 1939. After starting out as an accountant, James switched careers and studied at St Martin’s School of Art in London. He moved to Devon shortly after his marriage to Robin Whistler, and took up photography. Following a teaching job at Beaford arts centre, James contributed to the Beaford Archive, documenting the lifestyle of North Devon people. This became a 17-year long project, during which time he made 80,000 black and white images. James also worked with Common Ground’s Save Our Orchards campaign, Somerset County Council’s Mendip Project, and for Devon County Council. His work has been exhibited in England, France and America, and is currently showing alongside others at Qwaypurlake at Hauser and Wirth, Somerset – a group show curated by Frome-based Simon Morrissey of Foreground.

james ravilious

james ravilious

james ravilious

james ravilious
framed by Mount
james ravilious frame
framed by mount – ebony stained ash

We framed this stunning Ravilious print. It came with instructions on how James liked his work framed. We really like it when the artist specifies framing requirements, as it helps the buyer understand the importance of the frame and getting it right. Simon used anti-reflective glass to eliminate reflections and allow the viewer to see all the detail.

james ravilious
Instructions that came with the print our client bought.

Interestingly the photographs by Ravilious that appear in Hauser and Wirth’s Qwaypurlake exhibition don’t follow Ravilious’s request (not framed by us); they are float-mounted rather than window mounted.  At Mount we prefer the greater space given to the print by following James’s preferred method. But framing is often a personal thing, and this style works as well. The key element of James’s instructions are that the prints should only be mounted using acid-free museum card, and that they shouldn’t be hung in direct sunlight or over a heat source, ideally this should be the standard for all framed work.

Qwaypurlake James Ravilious Hauser and Wirth

 His photographic record of a small area of countryside between the rivers Taw and Torridge in north Devon became an essential analysis and celebration of English rural life… Time after time a Ravilious photograph brings out some aspect of our common humanity. Each photograph is intimate in the sense that the observer is drawn into a relationship with both the subject and the photographer. His pictures resonate with integrity and spiritual power, conveying, just like a great painting, so much more than the subject they ostensibly portray. –The Guardian, 1999


James died in 1999, but his work can still be seen and purchased from

Incidentally, we have also framed a print of Alphabet by Eric Ravilious, James’ father

alphabet eric ravilious


Previous 13th December Clare Mahoney | Next 15th December Lizbeth Spurgeon

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