Pocklington Probus Club report by David Fothergill: Members enthralled by three artists talk

Some wrestling with the Zoom systems slightly delayed the speaker at the latest Pocklington Probus Club meeting.

Saturday, 12th June 2021, 3:30 pm
Malcolm Smalley delivered an excellent talk to members.Malcolm Smalley delivered an excellent talk to members.

However, it was certainly worth waiting to hear well-known Pocklington resident Malcolm Smalley talk about three artists who have given him enduring pleasure over the years and have provided sustenance during the pandemic.

His trio consisted of twentieth century artists (two English and one American) with appreciably different styles, and he was able to show and explain various examples of their work using PowerPoint visuals.

Firstly, the meeting was shown work by Laura Knight (1877 – 1970) who lived at Staithes in her twenties and produced some outstanding local representations, such as The Fishing Fleet (1900) and

Dressing the Children (1905). The latter can be seen at the Ferens Gallery, Hull.

She is also known for her Second World War paintings, most notably Ruby Loftus Screwing a Breech-ring (1943) which is in the Imperial War Museum.

Also celebrated for his war art was Malcolm’s second choice, Eric Ravilious (1903 – 1942), although he is primarily remembered for his impressionist style of landscapes (e.g. Westbury White Horse 1936) and for his design, book illustration and wood-engraving work.

He designed the Wedgwood commemorative mug for the abortive coronation of Edward VIII – an extremely rare and valuable item if any reader has one tucked away in the loft.

The third artist to be considered was Edward Hopper (1882 – 1967), probably the most well-known of the trio. Malcolm highlighted Hopper’s ability to depict the contrast between urban loneliness and rural tranquillity, while simultaneously showing the boredom prevalent in both.

Malcom felt that Hopper’s ability to so vividly depicts isolationism reflects very accurately the feelings that many have experienced over the past eighteen months. Painting such as Automat (1927) and Nighthawks (1942) demonstrate this air of uncertainty very clearly.

Unfortunately, for copyright reasons, none of these paintings can be reproduced in this report, but listeners to Malcolm’s talk will have been stimulated to undertake their own further investigations of these artists.