The Ruralists

The Ruralists

Peter Blake, ‘‘Well, this is grand!’ said Alice’ 1970
Peter Blake
‘Well, this is grand!’ said Alice 1970
© Peter Blake 2018. All rights reserved, DACS

At the end of the 1960s, disillusioned with London life, Peter Blake and his wife, artist Jann Haworth, and their daughter moved to Wellow, Avon a small village near Bath. The Brotherhood of Ruralists was founded on 21 March 1975 (the spring solstice) and included, besides Blake and Haworth, Ann and Graham Arnold, David Inshaw and Annie and Graham Ovenden. Summarising the Ruralist mission Blake said:

Simply, our aims are the continuation of a certain kind of English painting; we admire Samuel Palmer, Stanley Spencer, Thomas Hardy, Elgar, cricket, English Landscape, the Pre-Raphaelites, etc… Our aims are to paint about love, beauty, joy, sentiment and magic. We still believe in painting with oil paint on canvas, putting the picture in the frame and hopefully, that someone will like it, buy it and hang it on their wall to enjoy it.

Blake’s Ruralist paintings are dominated by literary subjects drawn from English literature, particularly the works of William Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Fairies are another key theme with major works devoted to Titania from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Blake’s fairies are creatures firmly rooted in the present, not rarely seen mythical apparitions but very real people based on contemporary figures. ‘I didn’t ever stop being an urbanist really’, Blake stated.

While living in the country, Blake also devoted himself to continuing his wrestlers series and other urban subjects. His return to London in 1979 did not signal a total severance of his Ruralist ties. In 1982 he created a work with the title I May Not Be a Ruralist Anymore but Today I Saw a Fairy in My Garden in Chiswick.

Peter Blake, ‘I may not be a Ruralist anymore, but this morning I saw a fairy in my garden in Chiswick’ 2008
Peter Blake
I may not be a Ruralist anymore, but this morning I saw a fairy in my garden in Chiswick 2008
© Peter Blake 2018. All rights reserved, DACS

See also

Tate Liverpool Exhibition

Alice in Wonderland

4 Nov 2011 – 29 Jan 2012
Alice in Wonderland at Tate Liverpool: the first exhibition of its kind to explore how Lewis Carroll’s stories have ...