A collection of work by 22 artists whose delight is to experiment with the vagaries of printmaking, refining their ideas to fit a process, or inventing a process to suit their ideas. Their images are triggered by encounters with wildlife. They know the habits and habitats of wildlife and respond to it with interpretation full of freshness, imagination and vivacity.
This is a collection of artists from different generations, with varied styles and diverse approaches to making prints, who are all united in taking inspiration from the natural world, from insects to whales and flowers to forests. The book includes the work of the following artists: Carry Akroyd, Elizabeth Morris, Kim Atkinson, John Paige, Louise Bird, Peter Partington, Robert Gillmor, Nik Pollard, Robert Greenhalf, Greg Poole, Andrew Haslen, Colin See-Paynton, Lisa Hooper, Ian Stephens, David Koster, Andrew Stock, Kathleen Lindsley, Thelma Sykes, Julia Manning, Howard Towll, Julian Meredith, and Matt Underwood.
"At last here is a book dedicated to the artistry of modern wildlife printmaking. OK, there have been one or two artists who have had their works published in their own books, but this is the first to bring many artists and their prints together within the wrappers of one book.
Why the big fanfare then? Wildlife has long struggled to be recognised as a serious subject for art, apart maybe for the cave artists’ work that showed their fellows the difference between something that was good to eat and the big toothy-thing that needed to be fled from. Since then virtually all wildlife artistic efforts have been patronisingly labelled as ‘chocolate box’ pictures. Except, that is, in the field of printmaking. Here, the case is almost opposite, with the natural history audience not always ‘getting’ the art form and the ‘serious’ art world more readily acknowledging it. And so with the publication of this work, both sides of this long-running debate now have a chance to fully enjoy this underexposed tract of art.
Within this beautifully presented, large-format book, Carry Akroyd (as editor and fine printmaker herself) has pooled together the works and words of 22 artists. For the most part, each section is a mini-catalogue dedicated to the work of one artist, with three other sections devoted to several artists’ interpretations of winter, water, and flower and insects. The prints are a delight to the eye and are ably supported throughout by the texts of each artist, giving us an insight into their various approaches to image-making. Talking of texts, be sure to read Mark Cocker’s slightly quirky foreword.
Essentially, printmaking is the transfer of a medium from one surface to another, inked surface to paper or muddy boot to carpet – you know what I mean. The types of surface involved and the techniques applied to generate marks on the surface is where the real business end of the creative process is to be found. Traditional methods such as etching, wood engraving, linocut and screen printing are explored and explained in detail, with most artists specialising in one method only.
Many BB readers will be familiar with the beautiful linocuts of Robert Gillmor (Preening Pair 2007), the intricate wood engravings of Colin See-Payton (Young Otters 1994) and the big, bold and handsome hand-coloured linocuts of Andrew Haslen (Spring Woodcock 2010). If I have to pick out a couple of personal standout images, they would be Robert Greenhalf’s Four Snipe (2005), Kim Atkinson’s Missel Thrush Calls Rattle Through Winter Woods (2008), and John Paige’s Spotted Redshanks in June 2004. However the beauty of this sort of book is that it showcases works that have long deserved a wider sphere of publicity and with each read you will change your mind as to whose prints you admire the most.
My great expectations for this book have certainly been well met. It is joyful and an outstanding addition to the ever-growing library of wildlife art books published by the Langford Press."
- Dan Powell, www.britishbird.co.uk, 19-10-2012
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