Manchester Art Gallery

Lavington Common

Object description

This picture was painted during one of Hitchens first visits to Lavington Common in East Sussex on the edge of the South Downs. It is a semi-abstract landscape of Lavington Common in Petworth, Sussex, where Hitchens visited regularly, initially staying at Barnett's Farm, before purchasing six acres of woodland half a mile away from Lavington Common in 1939 following the bombing of his Adelaide Road studio in Hampstead, London. The artist Patrick Heron wrote in the Penguin book 'Ivon Hitchens' 1955 p.11 "Bombed out of Hampstead during the early raids of the war, Hitchens retired to a [gypsy] caravan he had lately purchased for £20 and driven into a thicket on Lavington Common composed of rhododendron and silver birch, with oaks above and bracken below. Here, with more turpentine than water, he remained, with his wife and infant son for company, to paint the war out". In a letter to the gallery dated 18th May 1940, the artist wrote: "The picture might well- if you like the title be called Lavington Common. It was painted here during the winter or late autumn of 1938". The trees and ground are painted in thick spontaneous strokes of colour. A darky painted weeping willow is clearly distinguishable in the centre to the right. Hitchens' subtle use of colour and brushwork evoke the spirit of place.