I was in London a couple of weeks ago, visiting Bankside Gallery – the Gallery of the Royal Watercolour Society (RWS), and the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers (RE). It’s a really great place to go and visit because they really push both new and established artists.
Despite the fact that there was no printmaking exhibition on, there were still racks of prints available to flick through and a lovely guy (a printmaker called Richard) was picking through and getting out his favourite pieces and we were having lovely chats about them. THEN I came across this print by Jim Anderson that stood out because it was so bright and because it looked kind of like a 1930’s book cover – like a more colourful Bawden or Ravilious print. I liked it. It was this one:
The variety and softness of colour on the nightingales and the owl is amazing! I’m really curious to know how many layers this cut took – the attention to detail is incredible. The sky has this beautiful gentle blue gradient, and the smaller images that frame the birds are so beautiful. The colours that Anderson has used clash off each other so beautifully. His work has this fantastical feel about it which, I have to say, is something that is often missing from mainstream linocuts and wood engravings, and is something that I have always loved about Ravilious. ‘Mob Rule’ reminded me of this image (yes, it’s Ravilious, sorry not sorry):
This is ‘A Heron Landing’ by Eric Ravilious, created for an edition of the “Natural History of Selborne” by Gilbert White.
So it’s black and white, but it still has this real dreamlike quality about it, and I for one just can’t get enough of it – there’s so much movement in it, and it’s just lines! Anderson’s work has the same effect – but the cutting technique and the way in which he has printed his work is much softer. Whilst Ravilious uses nature as his subject, I’m pretty sure that Anderson has more to his ideas than what’s directly in front of him. There’s definitely satire and I reckon a bit of a weird sense of humour thing going on in there which I really like.
I’ve spent a silly amount of time trying to figure out the connections between the main images and those around the outside and whilst I have come up with links for some, I’ve stopped because it’s maybe a bit weird and not the most productive use of my time. But it’s not very often that I find work that makes me stop and really, really look at it and analyse it – and that’s usually because it just doesn’t strike up any sort of spark with my imagination, and this really does.
Lastly, I noticed when reading about Anderson in the gallery, that he won the 2016 T.N Lawrence prize in the RE’s annual exhibition for ‘Sargasso’ (below). Whilst it’s not coincidence of the year or anything, it made me smile because when I first moved to Brighton I got a job in Lawrence’s. It was there that I was introduced to the world of printmaking and if it wasn’t for that job I wouldn’t be printmaking now. Anyway, Jim Anderson sent me this image of ‘Sargasso’, along with the images that I’ve used in this post (thank you), and I hadn’t seen this one yet. I’ve added it in because THE GRADIENT! Particularly on the white, I really do love it.
Please, if you get a chance, go to either Bankside or For Art’s Sake Gallery (both in London) and see these prints up close. They really are amazing.