[Chris Mullen]................ I bought my first Cecil Bacon scraperboard
(art work for cover of the BBC's programme listings showing Broadcasting
House) in 1978 when he held an exhibition at Hastings Library. I was
then working at the Norwich School of Art and bought it purely on the
recommendation of one of my students. The Curator suggested I collected
it from Cecil and Irene who would be delighted to see me. Many of his
pieces of artwork had been mounted for sale. Some were still unsold.
Oriole and I called at Chick's Hill St Leonards and met the Bacons.
Cecil was that generation of great craftsmen who had developed a freelance
career by the dint of energy, determination and ceaseless sharpening
of his own skills. He of course knew the others of this generation who
developed commercial art as a career after 1918 - such as Walter Hodges,
and Eric Fraser. Cecil had become particularly associated with scraperboard
illustration which because of its very nature presented strong contrasts
of light and dark. He also produced commercial work for children's encyclopaedias
and text books, but also, I discovered, through his agent, the celebrated
R.Gossop, packaging and press ads.
He also had produced some of the best London Transport posters of the
1930's, none of which I had seen on public view or in the standard literature.
He specialised in bold diagrammatic representations of the London Transport
network and bold posters for exhibitions.
He was a charming man with a marvellous sense of humour, neatly and
precisely dressed, who seemed baffled at my enthusiasm for his excellencies.
In later years he had found the exacting cut of the blade in scraperboard
difficult to sustain and had switched to drawings and wash drawings.
His methods and researches were meticulous.
All his art work was stored carefully with approriate numbering. The
outside studio presented a lifetime's correct and sensitive work, executed
with flair and love for the medium.
Studio Books had asked him to prepare their volume on scraperboard and
this allowed him to survey the best work then available. In true modesty
he stinted only in representing his own work. He died in 1994 and Iconsider
him an artist of true integrity and vision who drew the images of his
time in a way that helps later generations understand the important
icons of post-War Britain. Irene organised a posthumous show and its
popularity and success showed that many others loved and respected this