Djanogly Art Gallery, Edward Burra, 2 March – 27 May 2012;
London, RCA, A Perfect Place to Grow, 16 November 2012 – 3 January 2013;
Bristol, Royal West of England Academy, Drawing On, 21 March – 7 June 2015
This previously unpublished work was painted for Florence Rushbury, who had been a mature student with Edward Burra at Chelsea and was married to the artist Henry Rushbury. The subject is derived from the crowds of Cockney and gypsy families who descended to work in the hop gardens of Kent over the border from Rye at harvest time. According to Florence Rushbury, the hop-pickers seen here bore a marked and deliberate resemblance to herself, as well as a number of other London friends and contemporaries. In addition the work anticipates the jewelled colours and complexity of the drawings from Burra’s first trip to Paris in 1925 (under the watchful eye of Florence) and is imbued with the same sense of freedom. It signals the start of the period through the 20s and 30s in which travel was at the core of Burra’s art and can be placed therefore at the moment at which his distinctive vision first emerges.