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20th September 2022

Now is the time for tidying and cleaning greenhouses in preparation for winter, so this week we have a selection of greenhouse art.

Eric Ravilious' Greenhouse: Cyclamen and Tomatoes (1935, Tate) is one of three wonderful greenhouse watercolours he painted. It illustrates the type of immaculate but labour-intensive displays which were possible when gardening labour was cheap and available. The greenhouse was one of eight built to supply Firle Place in Sussex with fresh produce, most of which did not survive a 1944 doodlebug. James Russell writes brilliantly on Ravilious (and curates excellent exhibitions eg the forthcoming 'Changing Times' at The Higgins Bedford); in a blog post he writes, "As yellow tomatoes ripen on the vine above, twin lines of cyclamen...draw us through one open doorway then another...Light and spacious, apparently roofed with nothing more substantial than tomato plants, the greenhouse offers a pleasant dream of infinite regression." This is quite possibly how the greenhouses which Anita discovers when exploring the grounds of Milton Place might have been; in the kitchen garden of the decaying country house sit two, long, disused greenhouses, now symbols of a different era.

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