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Frederik Landseer Griggs 1876-1938

Locking up the church on Saturday evening I met a gentleman, Mr Colin Howard, visiting our church. Apparently each year he attends a summer musical course at Princess Helenas College, Preston and he never misses the opportunity to visit our lovely church. Although Mr  Howard hails from Wiltshgire he was extremely knowlegable about the history of our church. He suggested I might look up the work by a reknown artist F. L. Griggs. Amongst his works are two etchings of St ippolyts Church. I came across this web site http://www.ancientprint.com/2015/01/frederik-landseer-griggs-1876-1938.html  with an entry from Mr Ronald McBurnie. He wrote "

My interest in the work of F.L. Griggs began a little after I had purchased my first etchings of Samuel Palmer and began to investigate some the artists who had come under his spell.  I first purchased Griggs small etching titled Laneham (1923) and have slowly built up a modest collection of his work. Griggs was many things to different people. For me he was a great draughtsman who possessed a unique poetic vision of English architecture. Sometimes the architecture he drew inspiration from was imaginary and was channelled from the an unspoilt past age; etchings like Saras and Priory Farm are examples of this preoccupation. The marks he drew onto the plates were often quite intricate and like Palmer in many of his plates he has overlayed successive etched layers of marks to create rich dark passages while still allowing small areas of white to glint through.

As well as making magnificent etchings, drawings and watercolours, Griggs was also a flawless printmaking technician who at various times was able to assist and encourage young British printmakers in the making and proving of their plates. On the 30th of November 1926 Paul Drury and Graham Sutherland made a journey to Grigg’s home in Chipping Campden where the elder printmaker assisted them in printing their recent etching plates.  Sutherland wrote later, “It was Griggs as an enthusiast and technician from whom perhaps we gained most. A master printer of the copper plate, with infinite knowledge and patience, he had a palm as delicate as gossamer”  [the side of the palm is often used in the final stages of traditional plate wiping techniques]  (Drury, 2006: 58)

During the latter years of his life Griggs was involved in an ongoing battle to save many of the ancient buildings and land (Dover Hill) in the Chipping Camden area from demolition and developers. He spent much of his own funds to preserve a number of buildings of historic importance.  He died during the great depression when print prices in general had fallen and many artists were struggling to make a living. Unfortunately Griggs did not see a resurgence of interest in his marvellous etchings.

Both the Sarras and St Ippolyts etchings relate to each other. The making of each etching overlap in time and both were also made during a very turbulent and stressful period in the artist’s life when he was building his grand home in Chipping Campden. Both etchings are also integrally linked to the visionary imagery that the artist pursued.

In another letter to Alexander Griggs explains, “St Ippolyts is one of the places that pilgrims to Sarras see, & I don’t think it’s very far away. For me it’s in the heart of that lost country- oh God, how lovely it was! There was a wonderful road, difficult to find, it seemed to have no beginning & I, for one never knew the end.”  (Moore, 1999: 200)

 In St Ippolytes Griggs has described the three lambs as symbolic of his three children. It is worth considering that the elderly pilgrim or shepherd with his burden may be a  symbol of the artist on his journey to his visionary Sarras."

 

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