Monday, 25 July 2016

Very Badmin

Fellow travellers in Unmitigated England will know of my passion for the work of S.R.Badmin. And indeed will doubtless share it with equal fervour. So finding an image I hadn't seen before is always a singular joy. Badmin produced many book covers, and indeed also illustrated books of the calibre of the Ladybird Book of Trees and Puffin Picture Books on trees and architecture (Village and Town). So I got very excited by discovering in Chipping Norton The Rolling Road by L.A.G.Strong, and its Badmin cover of which the above is a detail. It's 'The story of Travel on the roads of Britain and the Development of Public Passenger Transport' and this Swift coach sums it all up for me. Was there a Swift Coaches Company around in 1956, and if there was did they paint their vehicles in this sympathetic livery of pale lemon and deep pink? I do hope so. I bet the number plate is SRB something; Badmin often included his name or initials somewhere in the picture other than in the obligatory bottom right hand corner. One book on churches even has his name very prematurely on a tombstone in the foreground.
   I had the enormous privilege of taking tea at Mr.Badmin's home in Bignor, West Sussex, with a dear friend in the autumn of 1987. His large living room window looked out at the slopes of the South Downs and my friend said "It must be wonderful for you to have that view of the Downs just outside of your window" and he replied "Too close for me m'dear" and proceeded into the kitchen to put the kettle on. And it's true, so much of his work informs us with loving detail in the foregrounds, but quickly take us off to far horizons.
    These days we still always say when confronted by a stand of chestnuts around a farm or a line of willows by a slow-moving stream "Very Badmin" as if nature had decided to copy his work. Nobody 'does' trees like S.R.Badmin, but there's always much more in his paintings. If you can get hold of a copy of Highways & Byways in Essex (the last in the series in 1939, he completed it on the death of F.L.Griggs, the original illustrator) you will see his outstanding line drawings of buildings, such as Bures Mill above. But trees really were the thing. As we left Mr.Badmin's home I noticed that leaves from the trees in his garden had dropped with the rain onto my car. I carefully peeled them off and put them in a church leaflet I found in the glovebox. 'Leaves from Mr.Badmin's Garden' I wrote on the front. I still have it, the leaves now dry and brittle, but still embued with enchanting and very agreeable memories.

20 comments:

Ron Combo said...

Quite delightful piece, thank you.

Peter Ashley said...

Thanks Ron.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Yes, Mr Combo is right: a lovely post. I treasure my Badmin tree books (and posters), and copies of Village and Town and Highways and Byways in Essex, but like you I'd not come across the LAG Strong book. When the buildings are an important part of the scene, as in the Essex example you show, he does them beautifully, but in some of the Shell trees posters the buildings are just window dressing really, thought the trees themselves are always done with loving precision and a true sense of their character too.

John Foster said...

Will check out his work. Love the bus scene.

Dickie Straker said...

Lovely post Peter! Like those above I too treasure my Badmin books and posters - not quite sure what draws me in, maybe a yearning for simpler times? You are right, Badmin trees are special. Both he and Bernard Venables got them just right. TTFN Dickie

Stephen Barker said...

I hope the coach driver is going to take the next bend carefully. as there appears to be mud on the road

Peter Ashley said...

Dickie: Thank you for introducing me to Bernard Venables. I then remembered he'd done the Puffin Picture Book on Fish & Fishing.

Stephen: I hope that the driver of the puce-coloured car is also aware that in the next few seconds he's going to be confronted by the coach, probably on his side of the road.

Alan Godber said...

Very appealing. You just want to step into his world. I've dug out my childhood Ladybirds in the firm belief that I had "Trees" but apparently not. I do have "Garden Flowers" 1960, the illustrations of which led me to a very early appreciation of rockeries and herbaceous borders.

E Berris said...

Just look at that winding English road - and you can almost hear the bus. Lovely, thank you. s. Berris

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Peter Ashley said...

Alan: Garden Flowers is particularly good. As in fact are the whole sub series of Ladybird Natural History books. I once had a signed copy (by Mr.Badmin) of Trees, but it very mysteriously went missing a few years ago. I have my suspicions.

Jon Dudley said...

Why didn't I know he lived in Sussex…? I want to be on that coach. Another gem, Mr A.

Fiona Moate said...

I love his Ladybird Trees and there is a London bus in the distance on the picture of poplars.I love Tunnecliffes illustrations for Ladybird too, all the little details of these illustrations taught me to look and probably contributed to my own career as an artist.

Fiona Moate said...

I love his Ladybird Trees and there is a London bus in the distance on the picture of poplars.I love Tunnecliffes illustrations for Ladybird too, all the little details of these illustrations taught me to look and probably contributed to my own career as an artist.

Peter Ashley said...

Thank Jon, hope you are well down in Sussex.

And Fiona. Welcome!

Jon Dudley said...

All well with the Starkadders here in Sussex thank you. The Harveys still beckons!

Peter Ashley said...

Harvey's calling me loud and clear Jon.

Diplomate said...

Blimey
I haven't visited for some time. How lovely.
Very good, carry on

Peter Ashley said...

Welcome back Diplo! Sorely missed.

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