Magazine article The Spectator

Those Were the Days

Magazine article The Spectator

Those Were the Days

Article excerpt

Maggi Hambling The Time by the Sea:

Aldeburgh 1955-58 by Ronald Blythe Faber, £15.99, pp. 224, ISBN 9780241144183 I first encountered Ronald Blythe at Benton End, a glowing oxblood farmhouse above the river Brett, poised on the edge of Hadleigh in Suffolk. This was the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing, run by Lett Haines and Cedric Morris, and known locally as the 'Artists' House' and for 'every vice under the sun'. Ronnie describes the set-up brilliantly. I was a raw 15-yearold at the time, and the point of studying most subjects on the school curriculum had escaped me: painting alone had become my raison d'etre. Indeed, art began for both of us in Suffolk. Its particular air, sea, sky and mud run through our blood - and possibly cause both our mops of curly hair.

Ronnie's minute observation of places, people and plants, his ear for scraps of dialogue and his feeling for poetry and painting make everything about those days immediate. Vintage photographic portraits and John Nash's drawings further enhance this book. As Ronnie describes the founding of the Aldeburgh Festival, details of the adventure, the people involved and another huge cast of characters, each mysteriously connected to this part of Suffolk, are brought vividly to life - and gradually we get to know the author himself. …

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