The four books in this series were edited by Tim Mainstone and published by the Mainstone Press between 2009 and 2012. Initially we started out with just the one book, 'Ravilious in Pictures: Sussex and the Downs', which celebrated the relationship between watercolourist Eric Ravilious and the landscape of the chalk hills. Alongside each of twenty pictures I wrote a short essay exploring the intriguing stories hidden behind the scenes – stories about Ravilious and his circle, English culture in the 1930s and the constantly evolving landscape.

Yes, it's a slightly eccentric form of art history, but people seem to enjoy it. We planned a trilogy, only to realise that our trilogy would have to be slightly more substantial than most. In the end the four books, taken together, paint a captivating portrait of a British artist who is now beginning to enjoy the reputation he deserves. On the main blog you can read more about 'Sussex and the Downs', 'The War Paintings', 'A Country Life' and 'A Travelling Artist'.

'Ravilious's watercolour landscapes... are beautifully reproduced here alongside insightful essays.' London Review of Books

'James Russell’s writing has the clarity and concision of the paintings, and is both properly informative and enjoyably readable... Glorious.' Andrew Lambirth, The Art Newspaper

'Alluring...  convivial...' Paul Laity, The Guardian

I have loved Nash's work since I had as a teenager a postcard on my wall of 'Landscape from a Dream', a painting that seemed evocative of loss or sadness. The image stayed with me and became the obvious choice for the cover of 'Paul Nash in Pictures: Landscape and Dream' when it was published by the Mainstone Press in 2011. So much has been written about Nash, but little gets close to his character or his humanity. The artist who gradually emerged as I studied his work was very different to the official version. And my teenage intuition about 'Landscape from a Dream' turned out to be right...

Published by the Mainstone Press in a limited edition of 750 copies in 2008, 'The Story of High Street' was a courageous undertaking for a small press and a wonderful success. The book includes the full text and pictures of 'High Street', the book of shops published by Country Life in 1938, along with two essays. Alan Powers investigated the making of 'High Street', while my role was that of historical detective, tracking down the 24 shops with the help of Tim Mainstone and Adrian Corder-Birch.

This art historical equivalent of a Grail Quest was unbelievably fun. I ran around London, hunting down the possible sites of shops and restaurants and discovering that one had become a fast food restaurant, another a betting shop, while others had been bombed. A pub in Camden looked exactly the same from the outside, but had been transformed within; a Jermyn Street cheesemonger was still going strong. In Essex the quest opened up stories about people whose lives are otherwise unrecorded. Fantastic.

This is not a commercial site, so clicking on the pictures above will only make them bigger. To buy my books, please contact the publisher, ask your local bookshop or use the bibliophile's favourite website, bookfinder.com.

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