You are here > Home > Newsletter > June 2013

Newsletter - June 2013


Work in Progress

Our sponsored mosaic at Locksley School is growing apace and the artist, Tyrel Broadbent, is working with the children two days a week. This photograph shows the bottom half of the design, which the pupils have now nearly completed and have moved on to the third and fourth panels. The logo of the school is a tree with all the leaves being represented by hands, and this has been used as an inspiration for the design. The area within the hands will be filled by pupils’ choices of images and items personal to them. The school staff and Head are delighted with our contribution, and someone from the school will attend our September lecture to thank us.

Mosaic by Tyrel Broadbent

30th birthday celebration

The September lecture will be preceded by a celebration of our 30th year; we will serve bubbly and cake to everyone who can come to this lecture, so the celebration will start at 6p.m. and there will be no coffee afterwards. The East Anglia area Chairman, Mr John Church, and his wife, will come to share the birthday celebration.

“A Crisis of Brilliance”

After our summer break, our next lecture in September concentrates on early 20th century artists including C.R.W. Nevinson, Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler, Dora Carrington, David Bomberg and Paul Nash. On 20th June a visit was made to the Dulwich Picture Gallery to see the exhibition curated by David Boyd Haycock who will be our lecturer on the subject. A report on this highly successful visit is available to read on our website at this link

Our June lecture – The Odd Couple: The Gardens of Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll

Our lecturer, Steven Desmond, helped us explore the work and relationship of this gifted pair who, individually, were difficult, awkward and solitary.

Gertrude was born in 1843 into a prosperous middle class family. She studied at Kensington School of Art and hoped to become an artist, but was not sufficiently talented to make her living by painting; however she had an extremely successful career as an artist/craftswoman. It was the time of the Art and Craft tradition and also the theory of the colour wheel, which divided colours into primary, secondary and complementary. Gertrude applied this colour theory to her planting; she had the moral drive of the Arts and Crafts movement (or Protestant work ethic) and worked productively until old age.

Edwin Lutyens – as a child, deemed too delicate to go to school – expressed himself entirely in visual terms, and drew on glass with slivers of soap. He was employed as a young man in an architectural practice, but left, he said, when “they had nothing further to teach me”.

Edward the Confessor’s coffin being carried to Westminster Abbey 1066 as depicted in the Bayeux tapestry

Although a generation younger than Jekyll (she advised an enquirer her named rhymed with ‘treacle’) the two began to work together. Lutyens, as a talented architect, was very good with hard landscaping and Gertrude excelled at planting. Although both found it extremely difficult to work with anybody else, they realised they could work with each other: the combination of their talents was far greater than either could have achieved on their own.

Ned, as Gertrude always called him, did marry but it was an unusual relationship. His wife was Lady Emily Bulwer-Lytton and in spite of an unsatisfactory marriage, there were five children.

Gertrude published her first book “Wood and Garden” in 1899, which reprinted many times in its first year. This was the first of many publications, advising gardeners to lay out their long flower borders according to the colour circle. She wrote “Gardens of Small Country Houses” but Steven said her idea of ‘small’ was not, perhaps, what ours would be.

The fascination with geometry that they both shared led to circular pools with fountains, long thin green lawns with a half circle at the end, chunky pergolas, semi-circular steps, and arrangements of alternating square and circular piers. Some features were made to look like wonderful ancient ruins, and retaining walls were planted within their structure. Lutyens would arrange the view of the house framed within an imposing gateway as in the Yorkshire house Heathcote.


Edward the Confessor’s coffin being carried to Westminster Abbey 1066 as depicted in the Bayeux tapestry

After the outbreak of World War I everything changed. Gertrude continued to write books and ran a commercial nursery to supply clients’ plants; she died in 1932 and Lutyens only 12 years later having become, perhaps, the most famous architect of the 20th century. Together they had created numerous gardens,  solved each others’ problems, but they could not get on well with other people.

The number of questions demonstrated how fascinating members found this lecture and admired the beautiful illustrations of some of the gardens.