Eric Newton in the Sunday Times, April 1945
'Each pictures tells its story crisply, provokingly and economically. To have done this without sacrificing painterly integrity is a considerable achievement. There is no stooping to nursery level here; there is merely a deliberate concentration on the kind of objects that are important to children . . . '
[Richard] got the idea for this show, as he put it in a letter to Sydney Schiff, 27 October 1943, "by painting little pictures for my nephews and nieces". He went on to remark that he was going to put the idea of a show on this theme to Rex Nan Kivell at the Redfern, adding " I have always wanted to indulge in free fantasy and humour occasionally and this seems to me a good way of liberating it besides giving a freedom and opening up ideas in my serious work." It was also vital light relief from the strains of his official war work which seems to have become an oppressive strain on him by this point.
- "The Edge of All the Land" exhibition catalogue, p45, 1994, Nicholas Usherwood/Southampton Art Gallery
A few years after the "Paintings for Children" show Richard started to experiment with introducing fantasy into his 'serious' painting. His imagination was obviously working on such a possibility after completing the large commissioned work, Freedom of the City of Westminster Given to Winston Churchill. He wrote this in his diary: 28th March 1947: "Finished Churchill picture (33x44). Very far from satisfied with it. Improvements would be wings sprouting from the little reporter on the right, turning him into the Recording Angel! And a few skeletons and skulls and other paraphernalia about.”
Shortly after this he started on Remembrance of Things Past, and this time he did not just imagine what he might do. He painted a vision he had as a child when sent to buy some eggs on a local farm - 'excalibur' rising out of the stream in the background of a 'normal' looking scene. This was just the first of many surprises and mysteries that he was to add to his paintings over the next decade or two, sparked by the freedom he enjoyed from doing paintings for children.
Richard continued his interest in paintings aimed at children through his participation in the "Pictures for Schools" scheme, from his first showing in 1948 when the exhibition was at the Tate to several others in the 1950s staged mainly at the Whitechapel gallery.
We have made a selection of Richard's paintings which we think might have been done with children in mind or have a childlike vision. They are collected here.
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Reviews from Richard's newspaper cuttings album: