A GROUNDBREAKING exhibition which is to launch in Devizes next year has been given a boost of almost £25,000 by an art fund set up to help smaller museums borrow important works of art.

Wiltshire Museum in Long Street Devizes is to celebrate artist Eric Ravilious, who features Wiltshire landscapes in some of his most famous works, with an exhibition titled Eric Ravilious: Downland Man

Museum director David Dawson welcomed the funding of £24,950 and said: “We have confirmed important loans from Tate and V&A as well as private lenders.

“We have also liased with the Imperial War Museum, British Museum, National Museum of Wales and the prestigious Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne, as well as private lenders, to secure a significant range of evocative watercolours for the display.”

The grant money will pay for the safe transportation of the pictures which are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The exhibition, which will open in Devizes next September and run until January, 2021, will feature pictures that illustrate Ravilious’ fascination with the sweeping downland landscapes of Wiltshire and Sussex.

Ravilious, who grew up in Sussex and later lived in London, was inspired to paint The Open Road which features Stanton St Bernard after a road trip to Wiltshire. The journey also inspired The Causeway, Wiltshire Downs.

As a non-driver Ravilious relied on public transport or the good will of friends, and in April 1937 when he produced the two paintings lady friend Helen Binyon was his driver and companion.

The grant has come from the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund and is a huge boost for guest curator James Russell who is a Ravilious expert. and will also write an illustrated catalogue to accompany the exhibition.

Mr Dawson said the Wiltshire Museum exhibition will be the first to be solely dedicated to Ravilious’ downland pictures and the first time that they have been back in Wiltshire since they were painted in the 1930s.

Mr Dawson said: “We hope the exhibition will get people queueing all along Long Street.”