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22 December 2021
It is worth braving the cold over the Christmas and New Year period to catch the Cutting It Fine exhibition of British wood engravings and illustrated books at Salisbury Museum in Salisbury Cathedral Close.
Don’t cut it too fine, though – the exhibition ends on 16 January 2022.
This is an exhibition in two parts. The first is a display of original prints and illustrated books by leading British wood engravers from the past century, including Gwen Raverat, Eric Ravilious, John Nash, Paul Nash, Leon Underwood, Rachel Reckitt, Gertrude Hermes, Monica Poole, Anne Desmet and Neil Bousfield. The second is two rooms solely dedicated to the work of the Wiltshire wood engraver, Howard Phipps, RWA, ARE. His works are primarily Wiltshire and Dorset landscapes.
The is plenty of variety in this exhibition, certainly enough to disabuse any set notions about what a wood engraving looks like. Detailed black and white pastoral scenes major though there are wonderful exceptions:
Undercurrents (left) is one of four works by Gertrude Hermes, who was also a sculptor. The print is in the RA Collection — following the link rewards you with the sight of her stunning self-portrait and other works.
Colour features in several pieces. There are vibrant slashes of red in Rachel Reckitt’s The Hall, La Blache (right) by Rachel Reckitt and
the palest blue in Neil Bousfield’s On Eccles Beach. (left)
This extraordinary work by Anne Desmet, Hackney Marshes, Dawn, is a collage on a razor clam shell.
In the Howard Phipps rooms you find more classic gems such as St Ann’s Gate.
The Salisbury Museum is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm. You don’t need to book ahead of your visit (as covid rules stand today) and the admission charge includes entrance to Cutting It Fine: The Art of the British Wood Engraver through 16 January 2022.
Read more about wood engraving in this excellent 2017 piece in Country Life magazine
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