Edward Bawden was an English artist well-known for his skills as a graphic artist, illustrator and watercolourist. His work included illustrations for many books and posters. He was widely travelled, having visited many counties in Africa and the Middle East and Europe during the 2nd World War (Wikipedia).
Figure 1: Title Whale (woodcut on paper):, Edward Bawden (1903-89)
Medium:woodcut on paper: Dimensions: 65×95 cms
The first work which I selected to investigate was the linocut “Whale” (Figure ).
It is a black and white woodcut printed in landscape format and fairly large in scale at 65x 95cms. I chose this work because I found it both visually striking and loved the fact that it tells a story which is of interest to me.
The whale is placed across the centre of the picture plane, occupying most of the centre of the print, a factor which helps to convey its large size relative to the other elements of the print. The whale dwarfs the hunters who are pursuing it in a small boat. The artist shows the hunters rowing, with one wielding a spear, preparing to throw. His aggression is in contrast to the defencelessness and passivity of the whale, despite its enormous size.
The picture tells a tale: the pursuing hunters, a displaced boat which has tipped it’s occupants into the water. Despite it’s large size, the whale looks frightened and panic- stricken and there is a sense that it will not escape it’s pursuers.
The print demonstrates a wide range of marks across the picture plane: rhythmic curling waves beneath the whale, jagged short marks above the whale suggesting choppy water, a night sky suggested in the upper left corner of the work which has been left uncut to suggest the darkness of the sky contrasting with the much lighter sea below.
The texture of the whale has been created using long straight cuts along it’s length. The water being extruded from the whale’s blowhole uses delicate curving cuts to suggest the flowing water emerging from the blowhole.
Overall, I think the print is very successful. It is pleasing to look at visually and very effectively tells a story at the same time.
The next print I selected was a linocut titled Tyger Tyger.
Tyger, Tyger (linocut), Edward Bawden, (1903-89).
English Medium: linocut
The print has been made in landscape format. The Tiger which is the subject of the print is placed centrally, across the picture plane. He is shown stalking in deep undergrowth. The artist emphasises the camouflage of the stalking tiger amongst the grasses by mirroring the marks used on the tiger’s coat in the grasses.
The artist has varied the direction and length of the marks on the tiger’s body to help them stand out against the background, but the sense that the tiger is well hidden is preserved. Those used on the tiger’s body are much shorter than the long vertical marks used to depict the grasses among which he moves. The artist has depicted the tiger’s head full face onto the viewer. He has used a different range of marks to describe the tiger’s head, with small round marks carved out to depict the whiskers and ears.
The vegetation has been left mainly uncut, with sharply constraining rounded forms cut out to provide sharp contrast amongst the dark leaf forms.
Choice of this work
I was particularly interested in the tiger as a subject, as I had used the tiger motif in the masked monoprint section of the course. I was very interested to see how a similar subject created using a different technique could produce a very different mood. This is a subject I would perhaps like to revisit using combined techniques.
Another work selected for review is the etching “Pink Eyes” by Richard Bawden.
Title: Pink Eyes (etching)
Bawden, Richard (b.1936)
I was drawn to the work due to the delicacy of the rendering of the rabbit which is the subject of the print and the beautiful soft colour scheme of neutral greys, pale orange which provide a prefect background for the delicate whiteness of the rabbit.
The artist has used a vertical format, dividing the picture plane almost in half horizontally using the horizon line. The rabbit is placed in the lower section of the picture plane centrally, beside a ghostly tree positioned to the right of the rabbit. A ghostly moon shines in the night sky in the upper section of the picture plane in the darkest portion of the night sky. A pale orange light illuminates the night sky to the left, providing a warm contrast to the otherwise seemingly monochromatic scene. The only other strong colour is the pink eyes of the rabbit. The rabbit’s fur has a faint tinge of pink across it’s coat, with white highlights helping to develop the texture of the fur.The use of a monochrome scheme for most of the print emphasises the pink of the rabbit’s eyes helping them to stand out in a way which would be difficult if the work showed more colour elsewhere.
The artist has managed to convey a sense of the animal’s soft fur by the very delicate marks used for the handling of the fur around the rabbit, contrasting with its surroundings.
Overall, it is a beautiful delicate print which suggests an “otherworldliness” to the nocturnal life of the rabbit.
The second work by Richard Bawden is a linocut titled “Hares at Holbacks”.
Title: Hares at Holbacks (linocut)
Bawden, Richard (b.1936): Medium: linocut
This is a multicolour linoprint of hares in a woodland setting. The most striking feature of the print is the mark making used to develop the coats of the animals. For the hare in the foreground, the artist has used a wide variety if horizontal marks to describe the fur of the hare, changing the direction of the marks to vertical on the animal’s legs. The fur of the underbelly is described by the white of the paper and short vertical marks, contrasting with the rougher fur on the animal’s back.
The foreground hare occupies the centre of the work in the middle third of the picture plane. The woodland recedes into the background and for this, the artist has developed less detailed marks than for the foreground hare and woodland plants. In the foreground, the veins of the leaves are shown in detail. The marks on the background hare are small and delicate and less detailed than in the foreground animal.
I found it very interesting how with limited colours, the artist has developed a sense of perspective in the print by reducing the size and detail of objects in the distance, such as the trees. I found it impossible to tell how the colours had been achieved, whether by reduction or multiple blocks but believe that the soft edges suggest this is a print created by the reduction method. This is something I would like to explore
2. Whale (woodcut on paper), Bawden, Edward (1903-89) / Imperial College Healthcare Charity Art Collection, London / Bridgeman Images
3 Tyger, Tyger (linocut), Bawden, Edward (1903-89) / © Fry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden, Essex, UK / Bridgeman Images
5. Pink Eyes (etching), Bawden, Richard (b.1936) / © Fry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden, Essex, UK / Bridgeman Images
6. Hares at Holbacks (linocut), Bawden, Richard (b.1936) / Private Collection / Sally Hunter Fine Art, London, UK / Bridgeman Images
hare running wood woodland forest