CRITIC’S CHOICE

The Herald Magazine - - ARTS VISUAL -

Wood en­grav­ing is one of the old­est forms of print­mak­ing and one of the sim­plest – in its fun­da­men­tal process, if not in the highly de­tailed and di­versely styled works that re­sult.

Wood en­grav­ing has its ori­gins in wood block print­ing, one of the ear­li­est print­ing tech­niques, in the 15th cen­tury but it was not un­til the 18th cen­tury that the mod­ern wood en­grav­ing method was in­vented, re­sult­ing in more finely de­tailed prints, by the Bri­tish nat­u­ral­ist and en­graver Thomas Bewick.

Prints are made us­ing a block of smooth wood, into which the artist carves a re­verse im­age which, once rolled over with ink, will be printed on to pa­per. The ar­eas that stand proud are in black, the carved ar­eas white. The So­ci­ety of Wood En­gravers (es­tab­lished 1920), which has or­gan­ised this 80th an­nual tour­ing open ex­hi­bi­tion of an art which is his­tor­i­cally strongly as­so­ci­ated with book il­lus­tra­tion, calls it “draw­ing with light”.

The call for sub­mis­sions from so­ci­ety mem­bers around the world goes out ev­ery spring and the cho­sen works are, as ever, hugely var­ied, rang­ing from works de­signed as artist prints, to be mounted on the wall, to those de­signed for the page. There will be more than 150 works on dis­play, in­clud­ing some other re­lated forms of print­mak­ing.

The So­ci­ety of Wood En­gravers 80th An­nual Ex­hi­bi­tion, The Pier Arts Cen­tre, Vic­to­ria Street, Strom­ness, Orkney, 01856 850 209, www.pier­arts­cen­tre.com, today to 16 June, Tue-Sat, 10.30am-5pm. If you’re in the area, don’t miss a demon­stra­tion and ex­hi­bi­tion tour by wood en­graver Kath Lit­tler on 18 May at 7pm. After the Pier run, the ex­hi­bi­tion will be at Wood­end Barn, Ban­chory (24 June-21 July).

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