AN exhibition of works by one of the Black Country’s most important and prolific artists, Edwin Butler Bayliss, will be on display at Wolverhampton Art Gallery shortly.
The son of a local ironmaster, the inspiration for his works came from the foundries and mines, and the areas depicted in his paintings include Bilston, Moxley, Tipton and Wednesbury. His works have both local and national importance, documenting the Black Country at the height of Britain’s industrial growth and his landscapes show how industry had a permanent impact on the local environment.
Bayliss, who was born in 1874 and died in 1950, worked in a range of media, including oil and pastel, and the exhibition includes a number of his works that have never been on public display before. He depicts the Black Country as a smokefilled and dangerous place to live and work, often showing figures silhouetted against a dull, grey sky and ravaged landscapes with blast furnaces and chimneys in the background.
In contrast to these industrial scenes are his seascapes of the Welsh coastline including Aberdovey, Anglesey and Cemaes Bay. These paintings feature members of his family relaxing and playing on the shore and Bayliss applies a refreshing cool palette of blues and greens. These works are full of light and colour, a stark contrast to the dark dusty greys and searing reds and oranges of his industrial landscapes.
Also featured in this exhibition are the works of some of his contemporaries, including William Sidney Causer, Richard Samuel Chattock and Joseph Vickers de Ville, as well as present-day artists including Robert Perry, Brian Steventon, Paul Hipkiss and Arthur Lockwood; a demonstration of how the Black Country continues to be a source of inspiration today.
A number of events, workshops and talks will complement this exhibition, including a special “Art and the Black Country Study Day” on Saturday, 23rd March, from 10.30am to 4pm, to celebrate the influence of the Black Country and its changing landscape and industry on artists both past and present. The day features a variety of insightful talks by Dr Connie Wan, the curator of the exhibition, historians and a contemporary artist. Tickets are £25 per person including lunch and refreshments.
Meanwhile “Drawing and Sketching in Watercolour en plein air” with Brian Steventon will be held at Bantock House Museum on Wednesday, 17th April, from 10am to 4pm. Tickets are £25 per person.
There will also be a series of monthly local history talks on the theme of the Black Country for the duration of the exhibition.
For more information about the exhibition, Edwin Butler Bayliss: Poet Painter of the Black Country, which runs from 19th January to 27th April, and the special events, call 01902 552055 or visit www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk.
Edwin Butler Bayliss initially grew up at 7 Merridale Road, Wolverhampton.
His father, Samuel Bayliss, was the chairman of Bayliss, Jones and Bayliss, manufacturers of various iron goods, such as nuts and bolts and ornamental ironwork, fencing and gates.
Bayliss’s main subject was the industrial Black Country, the foundries and factories, coal mines and canals, and slag heaps and pit mounds, painting the smoke-blackened skies and the blighted landscapes that characterised the region at the end of the 19th century.
His paintings were displayed by the Wolverhampton Art Circle and the Birmingham Society of Artists, and from 1899 to 1928 he exhibited annually at the Royal Academy, London.
In 1907 he married Elizabeth and the couple moved to the Beeches, Regis Road, Tettenhall. They lived there for more than 20 years and had three children.