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But while the work of Ravilious and Edward Bawden, his fellow student at the Royal College of Art, is enjoying fever pitch interest, that of their contemporary and friend Kenneth Rowntree (1915-97) remains a little more obscure.

Art dealers Paul Liss and Sacha Llewellyn, who together form Liss Llewellyn Fine Art, and Harry Moore-Gwyn have long felt that Rowntree's work should be reassessed, and for the past five years have been working on putting together a major exhibition of his work.

The result, Kenneth Rowntree (1915-1997) - A Centenary Exhibition, opened last week, along with an accompanying book, at The Fry Art Gallery in Saffron Walden, where it will stay until July 12. Then, from July 22 to October 18 it transfers to the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester before moving to The Redfern Gallery in London's Cork Street from October 20 to November 7, during which works will be available for sale.

Recording Britain

As Moore-Gwyn, Liss and Llewellyn write in the foreword to the new book: "Rowntree's early work reflects the inspiration and creative dialogue that came out of his friendship with Eric Ravilious (1903-42) on account of whom Rowntree moved to Great Bardfield during the 1940s. During this period he was particularly preoccupied with Kenneth Clark's Recording Britain project."

Like Bawden and Ravilious, Rowntree worked as an artist, graphic artist and illustrator. Born in Scarborough, he studied at the Ruskin School, Oxford, then the Slade, going on to work on Recording Britain and then as an official war artist.

It was in 1941 that he moved to Great Bardfield, an Essex village that was home to a number of figurative artists, including Bawden and Ravillious, during the mid 20th century. Here in 1945 he produced his well known School Print, Tractor in Landscape, which features in the show alongside numerous oil paintings, watercolours and collages, illustrations and designs for textiles, murals, ceramics and publications such as Vogue.

Rowntree went on to teach at the Royal College of Art and Newcastle University in the 1950s and '60s, teaching and working alongside a generation of abstract and Pop artists. The exhibition includes his own later abstract works and mixed-media Pop art assemblages from the 1960s-80s.

The Fry Art Gallery opened in 1985 to promote the work of the artists of nearby Great Bardfield. Alongside the Rowntree show, until October they are hosting a 30th anniversary exhibition of paintings, prints, ceramics, books, designs and objects produced by Great Bardfield artists since the early 1930s.