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A British Common [Clapham Common]

Stanley Roy Badmin (1906-1989)


Signed with initials, inscribed 'London Common' and dated 1939

Pen ink and watercolour

6 x 9 ¼ inches

'S R Badmin RWS, Paintings, Drawings & Prints', Chris Beetles Gallery, March-April 2015, No 105;
'A Century of British Art: 1900-1945', Chris Beetles Gallery, 21 June-17 July 2021, No 183;
'S R Badmin RWS RE: Watercolours, Drawings & Etchings', Chris Beetles Gallery, June-July 2022

Preliminary drawing for the Artists International Association Everyman print produced as a zinc lithoplate in 1939.

From the early 1930s, S R Badmin had rented a studio at Clapham Common, in South London, and so had become familiar with the area. It is therefore only natural that, in designing a print for the Artists International Association in 1939, he should have chosen to depict the changes to the appearance of the common that had been wrought by wartime conditions.

Badmin was a member of the Artists International Association, which had been founded in 1933 with the aims of fighting for peace against Fascism, establishing a social role for artists, and broadening the audience for the contemporary visual arts. In 1939, the AIA devised a series of artists prints that could be reproduced by offset lithography and so mass produced and sold cheaply. Badmin contributed three designs, the others being
Down for a Refill (showing a barrage balloon on Clapham Common) and Dulwich Park (showing skaters on the pond). In all, there would be 52 ‘Everyman Prints’ by more than 40 artists.

A British Common shows the digging of a gunsite on what had been the children’s playground on Clapham Common. (Included, as an ironic commentary, is the playground’s former sign, announcing that ‘the use of this ground is restricted to children under the age of 14’.) This was to be anti-aircraft command ZS16, with 4.5-inch guns manned by members of the Royal Artillery’s Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment. The guns have arrived and are to the right, behind a fence and beside the bandstand. The construction of the site was the responsibility of Air Raid Precaution wardens, and the initials ‘ARP’ are painted on the sides of the diggers and lorries. Another part of Clapham Common, close to Holy Trinity Church, was used as an allotment during the war, and Badmin recorded it in a watercolour as one of his contributions to the scheme, ‘Recording Britain’ (1940, V&A).

In 1942, Badmin would be called up to active service with the Royal Air Force, and work on operational model-making at RAF Medmenham, near Henley-on-Thames.

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