Tuesday, 21 June 2011

E A Sallis Benney

The other day I walk in out of the rain into one of my favourite antique bazaars in Lewes. The picture below just shouted at me from across the room. At first I thought Hesketh-Hubbard but on nearing it the signature was new to me. At first difficult to decipher and then all came in to focus as E A Sallis Benney !! who ?

Time to hit the books and internet and the result ?? the sort of story I love and a cross over from my love of prints to applied design – more of that later – so read on.

Ernest Alfred Sallis Benney (1894-1966) was a painter, printmaker and leading art teacher. He studied at the Bradford School of Arts and Crafts and at the Royal College of Art. He went on to be head of various art schools including Northwich School of Art, Salisbury School of Art and principal at Brighton College of Art from 1934. His son Gerald Benney was a world renown silversmith and designer.

He exhibited his works of art widely including at; Royal Academy 10 works, Royal Society of British Artists 30, Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 4

His time at Brighton is regarded as the most important era in it's history. He arrived with new ideas and an ambition to turn the school into a college with an international reputation. As well as leading innovations in visual arts, he introduced departments in theatrical and cinematographic arts and instruction in set design, scene painting, stage lighting, theatrical model making, wig making and make-up.

Ernest Alfred Sallis Benney died in 1966 but thanks in no small part to him the school continued to grow and in 1967 a brand new College of Art building was opened on Grand Parade on the site of the old Municipal School of Art. 

Designed by Percy Billington the iconic, curved building comprised a department of fine art, library, refectory, and a hall which would become the focus of theatrical productions.

My version of the print was not dated but came with a note stating "
This is a lino-cut given to Dorothy Avery as a wedding gift by E A Sallis Benney, August 1947". I was able to find another version for sale at Charter Prints and his is dated 1927. Another version can be found in the Aldrich Collection of Brighton City Art Gallery.

The cross over with applied design is to Ernest youngest son Gerald (1930-2008) the well respected and influential designer and silversmith. I think I will have to write a separate posting on Gerald - so remember to register as a "friend" to avoid missing the next instalment.

Internet references include;

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