Edward Bawden & Me exhibition at The Higgins Bedford

A group of people smiling

From Saturday February 17 to Sunday October 13, 2024, some of the biggest names in British art, illustration, ceramics and textiles are coming together in an eclectic exhibition at The Higgins Art Gallery & Museum, Bedford to celebrate the work of printmaker, illustrator, watercolourist and designer Edward Bawden (1903–89), entitled ‘Edward Bawden & Me’.

Edward Bawden & Me is curated by Bawden’s good friend, the illustrator and printmaker Chris Brown, who invited a diverse group of thirty artists and makers to respond to works by Edward Bawden in The Higgins Bedford collection. The exhibition features an artistic response from each of them, alongside the Bawden work that inspired it. 

The Higgins Bedford is the home of the Edward Bawden Archive, a collection of over a thousand pieces that Bawden donated to the gallery in the 1980s.  Bawden wrote:

“My own wish, would be for all the jigsaw pieces of my life’s work to be together … I must say I should feel immensely happy if I could be allowed to leave my remains to Bedford.”

The archive housed at the Higgins Bedford contains work Bawden made while he was a student at the Royal College of Art in the 1920s, through to commissions he received in the 1980s.  It includes prints, watercolours, ceramics, wallpapers, murals, posters, advertising designs, book illustrations, and even a garden bench.

Chris Brown says, “I think Edward would be amused to see that so many artists, printmakers, designers are paying “homage” to his work. Selecting the group has been enormous fun and the work produced in response to Edwards will reflect his broad interests.

“Some of the participants knew him personally, whilst others know him only by his work. What links them all is their obvious admiration for the man and his output. Work gave him great pleasure and the work itself has given and continues to give great pleasure to others.”

Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, Councillor Sarah Gallagher, said, "I am delighted to see the vibrant collaboration of renowned British artists and makers in the 'Edward Bawden & Me' exhibition at The Higgins Bedford.

“I am proud to support cultural initiatives like this, which not only celebrate the life and work of a masterful artist like Bawden but also contribute to the cultural richness of our community. I encourage everyone to visit The Higgins Bedford and experience the beauty and inspiration that can be found at this exceptional exhibition."

The range of artists promises to make Edward Bawden & Me, a stunning and fascinating exhibition that will celebrate the work of one of Britain’s most inventive and influential artists.

As part of the Edward Bawden celebrations a local group of Bedfordshire illustrators, the Circus of Illustration, has been commissioned to support eight local artists to produce a collection of new illustrations inspired by the Edward Bawden Archive. Their work will be on display throughout the exhibition.

The Higgins Bedford can be found on Castle Lane, Bedford, MK40 3XD. It’s free to visit and opening hours and further details can be found at www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk/Home.aspx. This exhibition is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.