Ivon Hitchens British, 1893-1979

In 1939 Hitchens and his wife purchased six acres of woodland near Lavington Common, Sussex; after he had cleared a patch amid the pervading silver birch and bracken, he moved a gypsy caravan onto the site: he had found his ideal retreat from Hampstead. However, when their house in Adelaide Road was bombed, the caravan and adjacent studio became the family home: life was basic, its rhythm being dictated by the rising and setting of the sun, while they lived largely off the land. Due to this enforced isolation the wood and Terwick Mill, near Midhurst, provided the principal motifs for Hitchens’s paintings during these years; they became a vital part of his life as he was confronted with them day and night, and in all seasons.


Hitchens worked directly from nature on site. He would deliberate beforehand, however, the original idea, put down in line drawings, would often be abandoned in favour of spontaneous work in from of the subject. His brushstrokes seem to be much gestural as representational.  Horizon lines are seen typically high and he used fresh, warmly tones palette which always suggests the changing English seasons of his subjects.   He used landscape as a vehicle for his experimentation in terms of form and colour Abstracted Landscape, and still life would remain his focus throughout his career.


The only artist to remain a member for the full 16 years of Seven and Five’s history; Hitchens exhibited in all 14 exhibitions.  He was important to the group in that he proposed Ben Nicholson, and would willingly second his suggestions for members. He was also close to Claude Flight, the duo apparently sharing a cave to paint in near Paris.


Hitchens was close to Ben and Winifred Nicholson, visiting Bankshead in 1925 for two months, actually staying at the farm whilst the Nicholson’s returned to London. In his Major Gallery exhibition in December 1925, he exhibited seven pictures from those two months in Cumberland: two landscapes and five interior still life paintings.