The London Original Print Fair

The London Original Print Fair was at the Royal Academy this weekend and, as I was there doing a shift on one of the stands, I decided I might as well take some photos and possibly accompany them with some insightful and astute comments. There’s always a first time for everything.

So, I feel I started off quite well with this one – an acceptable view of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers stand. My linocut, Poetry of Departures, is shown top right.

There were some really good Edward Bawden linocuts on several of the stands, including my favourite – the one of Brighton Pier – priced at a cool £20,000. Unfortunately you can’t really see much – perhaps I should have got a bit closer.

And here is another Bawden, which I’d never seen before. This one is a poster for the Saffron Walden festival, of which there are only two in existence, the other being in the Fry Museum.
Again, this is not a great photo – those people appeared out of nowhere, I’m telling you.

       So I had another go at it but this time I managed to cut the top off. Moving swiftly on…

    Here we have a person looking through a browser and a nice view of a blue suited shoulder.

          Here is a rather interesting set of ten prints, as seen through some sort of leaf sculpture.

And so, with a final flourish, here are some random people walking through a doorway – you can’t ask for more than that, can you?

A Busy Summer….

  Not much time for blogging this month…
 Rows of prints drying in the studio……

                                             Piles of finished prints ready for signing………

                                           One hundred postal tubes in the studio and ready to use ….

The RA Summer Show – Like It or Loath It?

Each year, I really enjoy reading the reviews of the RA Summer Exhibition – there’s nothing like it for polarizing opinion amongst the art critics. Here are a few from last year’s show (2011).
Jonathan Jones in the Guardian says this:
‘I have a modest proposal to put to the Royal Academy. Every summer, there is a strange imbalance in its galleries. The vast salons on the main floor are given over to the RA summer exhibition. Superannuated sculptors, paltry painters and a ragtag of would-be titans have their day, for months. The public comes, for its sins. Critics try to find the good in it, and retch and redden in the courtyard, disgusted by this rite of mediocrity’. 
And again:
‘in future, the Royal Academy should cram its entire summer exhibition into the Sackler Galleries. They must admit the truth: there is barely enough worthwhile art in the summer exhibition to fill this cramped attic space. They could either select the handful of moderately good works and hang them – it would be a nice, spacious little exhibit – or just leave everything stacked and heaped around the floor, and let people sort it through as if at a jumble sale.’ 
Do you get the impression he’s not too keen? Read the whole article here
A review by Brian Sewell in the London Evening Standard takes the traditional view:
‘If the Academy has ever demonstrated anything in its Summer Exhibitions, it is that when large works and small are crowded together the “rhetoric of the small” is based on logic, judgment, purpose and clarity, while the large depend on size for their effect – an old trick of art in the service of tyrannical politics. Were I a collector I’d go first to the Small Weston Room (known to my generation as the Small South Room) and look with a keen eye at the paintings crowded there.’
 ‘I have always felt sorry for the handful of skilled professional print makers exhibiting in the Academy, swamped by the bagatelles of amateurs and filthy rich painter-Academicians who, at the peak of their game, need neither the notice nor the cash.’ 
See the whole article here 
And Alistair Sooke takes a reasonable view in the Telegraph (imagine!): 
“Today, suspicion persists that it remains a safe haven for traditional painters who take the “common-sense” view that a picture of a tree must resemble a tree. Yet it strikes me that denigrating the Summer Exhibition is a peculiarly self-flagellating British trait. Nobody could claim that it is cool, or cutting edge. But it is the largest open-submission contemporary art exhibition in the world: this year, the hanging committee vetted more than 12,000 entries from 27 countries.”
See the rest here
I guess we can all make up our own minds in a few days – it opens on the 4th June…..


Metroland II

Here is a new version of my linocut Metroland. It was first shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition nearly three years ago and the edition of 75 sold out in seventy-two hours (those were the days, sigh). Anyway, that’s long enough for the blocks to be sitting around in my studio doing nothing so out they came for another airing. I reversed the printing order of the some of the blocks, did some more cutting, changed the colours (obviously) and, hey presto, Metroland II.

Artist’s Cards

When I was first approached by a publishing company, with a view to supplying them with some images for cards, I was worried it might have a detrimental effect on my sales. After all, why would you want to pay £250 for an original linocut when you can have the card for £2.50?

I’m not sure if I’ve had an upsurge in sales of original work through this (although other artist friends say they have) but they do raise your profile very efficiently. I’m quite happy to walk into the Royal Academy, say, or the Transport Museum, and see my cards displayed in their shop.

There can be the odd drawback, though. Not so long ago, I was taking part in a printmaking demonstration to coincide with a gallery exhibition. Alongside me was a very successful printmaker friend, who also happened to have a beautiful range of cards of her wood engravings. A nice couple came up to tell her how much they admired her work.
“We’ve just bought six of your cards” they told her, smiling enthusiastically, “and framed them for the kitchen. You really can’t tell that they’re not the originals”.
All said with the best intentions, I’m sure……..

Anyway, here are some of my cards, all available now. Those on the left are from Canns Down Press and those on the right are from Art Angels


Grayson Perry and me

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition is over for another year.

Here is a photo of Grayson Perry (in the dress, obviously) standing in the vicinity of my linocut Exodus (top and to the left). I’m afraid the identity of the other man is lost to posterity

I do like to think that shortly after Karen took the photo, Mr. Perry looked up and gasped in admiration as he spotted my picture…..

And anyone who thinks otherwise – please don’t get in touch.

Varnishing Day at the Royal Academy

Here we are, a few of the hardworking but happy band of artists we call Half Moon Printmakers, enjoying a glass (or three) of champagne at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.
Varnishing Day is traditionally a day set aside for selected artists to make last minute adjustments to their paintings before the show is open to the public. These days, of course, we just go to gawp and have a bit of fun…..
From the left, Karen Keogh, Sonia Rollo (front), myself and Susie Perring.