Ref No2012.103
LevelCollection
Extent14 boxes and 1 outsize folder
TitleArchive of Dorothy Annan (1900-1983) and (Dudley) Trevor Tennant (1900-1980)
Date[1900]-1983
ArtistAnnan, Dorothy Tennant (c 1900-1983) and Tennant, Trevor (1900-1980)
BiographicalHistoryLittle is known about the early life and career of the artist, potter and mocaicist Dorothy Annan. Born Dorothy Ward, records show that she was born on 20 January 1900 in Parà, Brazil and was the daughter of John Ward and Jane Anne Margaret Wright.

Her father was a maritime engineer who worked in the remote Amazonian region of northern Brazil, but by 1911 census records show that the family had left Brazil and were living in Lewisham, Kent. According to a manuscript draft of her curriculum vitae, (see 2012.103/J/1), she was educated privately abroad, possibly in Belgium. Her curriculum vitae also suggests that she was educated at the Central School of Art in London, although no dates are supplied. Known to her friends and family as 'Dolly', 'Dodie' and 'Dodo', she adopted the surname 'Annan', possibly after her marriage to Trevor Tennant. It is not known why the name change occurred or why 'Annan' was chosen.

In 1929 Dorothy Annan married the sculptor Trevor Tennant, but little is known about Annan's career during the early years of her marriage. It is not until the 1940s that evidence emerges of Annan's professional life. During the Second World War both Annan and Tennant, like many other artists, were stationed at Leamington Spa to serve as military camouflage artists. This unusual concentration of artistic talent saw Leamington Spa become one of the most prolific regional branches of the Artists' International Association (AIA) a left-wing body which was formed in 1933 by Pearl Binder, Clifford Rowe, Misha Black, James Fitton, James Boswell, James Holland and Edward Ardizzone. Members of the Leamington branch of the AIA formed The Artists and Designers Group, a collective of artists responsible for creating public murals in hostels, canteens and schools in the Leamington and Coventry area. Public Murals were regarded by the AIA as an important part of the democratisation of art. Annan produced a number of works as part of the group, including murals for the British Restaurant in Leamington Spa, Finham Park Hostel in Coventry and Rugby Road Junior School in Leamington Spa.

In 1943 Annan exhibited a work in the AIA exhibition 'For Liberty' in the basement of the John Lewis department store, Oxford Street, London. In 1945 she had a solo exhibition at the Leicester Galleries, London and in the same year exhibited 'Flowers on a Glass Table' and 'The Parade, Leamington Spa' at the Royal Academy of Arts. During the 1940s Annan's work was exhibited and purchased by galleries throughout the country. Paintings produced by Annan during this period are currently held by The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Manchester City Galleries and the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.

After the war Annan pursued a new artistic direction by taking up pottery. Though little is known about when or where Annan learnt her craft, it is assumed that she studied pottery during the late 1940s. This seems to be her least prolific period after the war and may indicate that she was attending pottery classes. By the mid-1950s Annan was producing ranges for the London home furnishings department store Heal and Son and saw her work purchased by the Council of Industrial Design.

During this period she also received a number of commissions for school murals. The post-war schools building programme had seen a radical shift in school design. Spear-headed by the Chief Architect in the Ministry of Education, Stirrat Johnson-Marshall, and his associate, David Medd, the shift in design saw school classrooms become flexible teaching environments full of light and space. Medd in particular was passionate about commissioning artists and craftsmen to furnish the school with hand-crafted pieces. This new wave of interest in craftsmanship in schools saw Annan take on a number of school commissions, combining both her pottery and painting to create hand painted tiled murals and tiles. Her school commissions included Hatfield Junior School, Hertfordshire (c late 1940s), Worthing Technical School (1955), Highbury Quadrant Junior School, London (1955), Woodside Primary School, Amersham (1956), Tuxford County Secondary School, Nottingham (1958) and Cayley Primary School, London (1964).

As well as her commissions for schools, Annan produced works for a variety of other clients, including King's College Library, Newcastle (1959) and The Returned Noted Building of the Bank of England (1960). However, her panels for the Fleet Building, Farringdon Street, London, remain her most recognised work. Annan was commissioned by the Ministry of Works to design a ceramic mural comprising nine panels for the Farringdon Street elevation of the Fleet Building in London. The Building, designed by Eric Bedford, was built to house the Central Telegraph Office. Annan was offered £300 per panel, plus the cost of materials and firing. Annan used photographs of telecommunications equipment supplied by the Post Office as inspiration for the panels. Although the tiles were manufactured by Hathernware Ltd., she hand-scored each wet clay tile to her design at their Loughborough pottery and then decorated, glazed and re-fired them in her studio kiln. On the closure of the Telegraph Office, The Fleet Building was bought by an American Bank and was at risk of demolition. However in 2011 English Heritage gave the panels Grade II listed status, and in 2013 they were relocated to an elevated walkway on the Barbican Estate.

Only two other public murals by Annan survive: they are a set of three panels for King's College Library, now part of the University of Newcastle, and a panel at Cayley Primary School, Tower Hamlets. Her mural 'The Expanding Universe' for the Returned Note Building of the Bank of England was demolished in 1997. Following a prolific career that flourished from her mid-40s, Annan died in 1983 in Norfolk.

Trevor Tennant was born Dudley Trevor Tennant in July 1900 to Charles Dudley Tennant, the press-illustrator and portrait artist, and Sarah Louise Tennant. He trained at Goldsmith's College of Art and later at the Royal Academy of Arts. In 1927 he exhibited two paintings at the Royal Academy, but after discovering his love of carving, he focused his attentions on becoming a sculptor. Tennant developed his technique throughout the early 1930s, working in various materials, including alabaster, terracotta, elm, sycamore, bronze and mahogany. In 1933 he had his first solo exhibition at the French Gallery, London showing both watercolours and sculpture. This was followed a year later by an exhibition showing works from both disciplines at the Leger Gallery, London in 1934. In 1938 Tennant secured his first solo exhibition of sculpture at the Leicester Galleries in London. The exhibition, which featured a large wooden carving of Saint Francis as its centre piece, was largely considered a success. However, critics sometimes found his work derivative, commenting that his work oscillated between Jacob Epstein's realism and Henry Moore's abstraction, (see press cuttings reference 2012.103/E/3).

Like Annan, Tennant was deployed to Leamington Spa during the Second World War to work as a camouflage artist. Whilst there, he and the painter Edwin La Dell organised the Leamington branch of the AIA. Tennant's interest in the AIA endured after the war, as he continued to play a prominent role in the administration of the Association. Like many other artists during the post-war period, Tennant started to produce works on a much smaller and more affordable scale. This was necessitated by the short supply in sculpting materials but also reflected the democratic ethos espoused by the AIA that art should be for everyone, irrespective of their income. To fulfil this ambition, in October 1945, the AIA held a 'Sculpture in the home' exhibition at Heal and Son, London, featuring small works in a domestic setting. In his catalogue introduction, Tennant wrote that the aim of the exhibition was to show that small sculpture could be afforded by a 'person of modest means'. Tennant's works featured in later 'Sculpture in the home' exhibitions administered by the Arts Council (copy available in the Henry Moore Institute Research Library, Special Collections 730.941).

Despite the new direction prompted by the 'Sculpture in the home' exhibitions, Tennant's post-war work predominantly concentrated on large-scale architectural commissions. He was championed by Donald Gibson, the Architect of Coventry's redevelopment scheme, undertaking numerous commissions in the city, including a series of 10ft stone figures entitled 'The People of Coventry' which were placed at the heart of the redevelopment. Throughout the 1950s Tennant was commissioned to create architectural sculptures for various clients, including Hatfield Technical College (1952), Bracknell Development Corporation (1957), King's College Library, Newcastle (1959) and Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, Welwyn Garden City (c 1964). Many of these commissions were a consequence of the post-war development of New Towns, like Hatfield and Bracknell, which used sculpture to adorn public buildings and celebrate its people.

Both Tennant and Annan also benefited from the London County Council's post-war Patronage of the Arts Scheme. Their champion was the County Council's Senior Art Inspector, Maurice Wheatley, who acted as an unofficial mediator between head teachers, governors, artists and committees. Works undertaken by Tennant as part of the scheme, include his play sculpture 'Gulliver' (1958) and 'Netball Girls' for Barnsbury School (1961). Annan's commissions for the scheme include murals for Highbury Quadrant School (1955) and Cayley Primary School (1964).

Tenant taught at various art colleges including the Camberwell School of Art (1930-4), Dulwich College (1934-40), Hammersmith School of Art (1946-53) and Guildford School of Art (1947-52). A skilled teacher, he received a series of complimentary references from various contemporaries, including Henry Moore, Cosmo Clark and Eric Kennington, (please see 2012.103/G/2/13 for these references).

In 1965 Tennant's first solo exhibition since 1938 took place at the Molton Gallery in London. Entitled 'Figures in Movement', the exhibition featured Tennant's semi-abstract figures engaged in sporting endeavours made between 1953 and 1965. These works, particularly 'Runners', proved to be a commercial success, with a number reproduced for private clients. During the 1970s, Tennant scaled back his work and did not exhibit again. Trevor Tennant died in December 1980 in Norfolk.
DescriptionThe collection contains the papers of artist, potter and mocaicist Dorothy Annan and her husband, the sculptor Trevor Tennant. It includes notebooks, sketch books, photographs, slides, exhibition catalogues, correspondence, press cuttings and publications related to commissions and works undertaken by Annan and Tennant. It also includes a small volume of personal and financial papers. However the collection is lacking preparatory sketches and drawings for both Annan and Tennant. In addition, the volume of material related to the Artists' International Association is relatively slender given Tennant's prominent administrative role within the organisation.
ArrangementThe disordered nature of the collection, particularly the photographs, has necessitated the re-arrangement of the papers. Where original files have been retained, this has been noted in the catalogue.

The papers have been arranged into the following series order:

2012.103/A: Notebooks
2012.103/B: Sketches and drawings
2012.103/C: Photographs
2012.103/D Annan's murals and commissions
2012.103/E Tennant's exhibitions and talks
2012.103/F Tennant's architectural commissions
2012.103/G Correspondence
2012.103/H Exhibition catalogues and private view cards
2012.103/I Printed material
2012.103/J Personal and financial papers
NotesCatalogued by Alex Cave
AccessConditionsAvailable to all registered researchers. The Archive is open by appointment only.
Persons
CodePersonNameDates
DS/UK/273Tennant; (Dudley) Trevor (1900-1980); sculptor1900-1980
DS/UK/582Annan; Dorothy (1908-1983); Artist1908-1983
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