In my research so far, I’m finding a mixture of artists using linework in lino and those creating pictures from block tones. Ann Lewis’ work rarely uses a graphic, white outline; instead her images are made up of areas and shapes, and depth is built up through the multiple reductions.
Ann Lewis’ prints are inspired by the rural North Wales landscape. I think the medium is well-suited to the rocks and cliff faces, and that the prints of rocks, beaches and mountains are her best. Although the waterfalls are skillful, I don’t like them as much. They don’t capture my eyes like the mountain prints. I think this is because the whole draw and focus of a waterfall is its movement, and the print has frozen it. So I’m not sure where’s the centre I’m drawn to in the image.
I wonder if this is a kind of ‘freeze’ particular to linocut because it makes up an image out of flat planes. In the waterfall prints, I think this flatness works against her. But in the mountain and rock prints, the subjects are rocks, which are all stillness. That is their thing, being still. So the flat, still planes of the reduction method work well with the concept, because they enhance the quality of the subject being represented.
I love the simplicity of this print of cups (Cwpanau bach (small cups)). The pure background. Evening sort of colours. Shadows. Almost seeing the cups as creatures.
Ann Lewis has a very informative website with quite a lot about her inspiration, working methods and the linocut process: www.annlewis.co.uk.
I really like the fact that she writes about her creative process, why she made each picture, why she chose a particular colour scheme, what the place means to her. I think it adds loads to the prints, giving them context, and stories, as well as standing alone as great prints.
Paul Catherall‘s work is very clean. His subjects are mainly buildings in London – Battersea Power Station, the Tate Modern, the London Eye. Catherall’s prints are linocuts but they don’t have the signature streaky backdrops usually associated with lino. By choosing to keep his block areas clean and solid, Catherall makes sure that nothing distracts us from the picture’s bold, pared-down shapes.
In these prints, form emerges through layers (reductions), which sketch the outline of the building by showing where it is in shade. There are no fine outlines, no white outline. Instead the image is made up of balanced shapes.
I think that these images work because they break a familiar sight down into the basic forms and building-blocks that make it up. As viewers, we’re searching for the centrepiece of the image, something figurative – and then recognise the familiar shape of Tate Modern, a tower, a particular series of angles. I think it is this very tiny moment that Catherall makes us wait before recognition kicks in that makes his prints visually satisfying.
I also like his striking colours: bright pastels, greys and black.
Paul Catherall is based in London, and is a member of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers (RE). His work has been commissioned by Transport for London, the Royal Shakespeare Company and British Airways among others.
Louise Hayward is a printmaker based in London. Her work explores a fascination with housing – specifically the tower blocks and social housing in inner London, the place where she grew up. Hayward suggests that “this kind of architecture has become negatively associated with the welfare state and social decay while the buildings themselves often have a powerful, enigmatic presence in the city.” Her prints successfully convey this ‘enigmatic presence’; her buildings are looming, beautiful and austere.
Hayward uses relief printmaking processes to create her work, mainly wood engraving, lino cut and engraving on plastic. Most of her work is printed in monochrome. In some prints, she adds colour or other tones using separately-engraved thin plastic plates.
The use of a limited palette focuses our attention on the shapes of the buildings, and patterns within the image. Pattern seems especially important in Hayward’s work; in the tower prints, our eyes can become lost and dazzled in the hundreds of tiny windows – building up a sense of the buildings’ power over us and the dizzying experience of encountering a huge building.
Light and shade are crucial in her prints; light draws our focus to details, while shade makes the buildings sculptural through dramatic contrast. The shadow of one tower block on another (Point Blocks on the Tustin Estate) implies a light source that is outside the frame of the picture. This causes us to see the picture as a carefully-chosen, poignantly selected part of a wider scene.
Hayward also uses the composition of light and shadow to create a sense of moment – and narrative – in her work. By picking out highlights such as lit windows (Gordon House, Evening) or the faces of buildings lit by low sun (On The Brandon Estate) Hayward captures a fleeting moment, setting the picture at a specific time of day. We know that the sun will go up or down, the light will change, or more windows will light up, and the moment will move on and be lost. In this way, each print can seem like a still frame from a film, or a life.
Louise Hayward studied painting in the 1980s before discovering printmaking and studying MA Printmaking at Camberwell. She is a member of the Society of Wood Engravers (SWE) and a fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE).