Saturday, March 17, 2012

An Interlude

The studio has been cleared this week so that a new oak floor can be laid. There were just enough planks left over from other rooms and now the tatty old carpet has gone for ever:

The skirting board still needs to be fitted but things are coming back into the room; I'm trying to keep the floor as clear as possible so that I can enjoy the sense of space that the new floor gives me.

Back at my desk, I am enjoying the little catalogue produced by the Library of Manchester Metropolitan University to accompany the current Society Of Wood Engravers Exhibition. This is from the MMU website:

Special Collections

The Best Tools, the Best Methods, the Best Aims... : The Society of Wood Engravers 1920 - 2012

16th January 2012 - 23rd March 2012

MMU Special Collections Gallery,
3rd Floor,
Sir Kenneth Green Library

"It is admittedly a time of experiment. We have to rediscover the best way of doing things - the best tools, the best methods, the best aims." Eric Gill, 1927

This exhibition celebrates the very generous donation by the Society of Wood Engravers (SWE) of their archive to the Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections. The archive includes material from the Society's foundation in 1920 and traces its development up to the present day.

The exhibition includes material from the SWE archive along with examples of some of the finest 20th century wood engraving from our book collections and unique material from some of the artists' archives. In addition to showing the work of current members each has nominated a past member, who they regard as having been a particular inspiration to them; either through their work or more personally. The contemporary print has been displayed alongside a print by this 'sage'.

In depositing their archive with MMU Special Collections the SWE have ensured its long term preservation, as well as making this fascinating material available to those interested in the SWE illustrious past and its exciting future. They have also placed the archive alongside exceptional collections of books related to wood engraving and with the private papers of a number of artists who are recognised as being amongst the leading engravers of the 20th century.

By displaying the work of some of today's members alongside that of some of the key figures from the history of the SWE we hope to highlight both the continuities and also the developments in the art of wood engraving in this country through the 20th century and beyond and also to echo the words of Eric Gill in suggesting that this is still "a time of experiment".

I chose to be paired with Reynolds Stone, with whom I do feel a great affinity. For my own image, I chose the bookplate that I engraved for my wife to mark our 25th Wedding Anniversary:

The exhibition continues in Manchester until 23rd March

Sunday, March 04, 2012

A New Engraving: Rescued On The Back Of A Goose

Having caught up with older work, this is the first of two posts about recent engravings, although the first was done at the end of last year.

They are both illustrations commissioned for The Dawn Herald by L. B. Mara. This first one shows a dramatic moment when a baby is rescued from a castle tower on the back of a goose. It was great fun to design, especially playing about with the design of the castle. As will all commissions, it started as a rough sketch and developed into a finished drawing:

 I felt that I needed to practice the elements in the border so I did some tiny trial engravings on a small piece of lemonwood:

I was happy with what I had done and so drew the design in reverse onto a large lemonwood block, picked up my gravers and set to work:

It is a special moment after hours (days, actually) of engraving to pull the first proof from the block and see the image just how you had planned it:

Here is the finished engraving:

I am hugely pleased with it. It is now available in an edition of 125 copies, printed from the original engraved block onto a special smooth making of Zerkall paper. Every detail is crystal clear.
It is available from both my Etsy Store and from my Website.