The Society of Wood Engravers is a U.K. organization devoted, as the name states, to the art of wood engraving.
Though similar in many ways to the more familiar process of woodcuts, of which it is a subset, wood engraving shares similarity to the process of metal engraving in the nature of the tools used.
Wood engraving involves carving in wood, and is, like other woodcuts, a relief printing technique rather than an intaglio process like copper plate engraving, but wood engraving is performed on the end grain of a block of hardwood, rather than the softer side grain.
Engraving tools, like the burin, allow for finer lines and more detail than in traditional woodcut technique, and artists can use this to great effect (wood engraving was one of M.C. Escher’s primary mediums). The Society has a description of the process on their site.
The Society of Wood Engravers has a long history, and in their online gallery is currently showing a selection of prints from their 73rd Annual Exhibition.
The online galleries are slightly awkward to navigate, there are 31 pages of thumbnails accessed by small numbers above the thumbnails, and the larger images are displayed in Lightbox style pop-ups, but perseverance will be rewarded with some wonderful gems.
The physical exhibition will be at the Bankside Gallery in London from 21 January to 2 February 2011.
Wood engraving can have an almost photographic quality, and was used for book illustrations in the 19th Century; it can also have a character somewhat like scratchboard with white lines appearing out of dark areas.
Overall, it is a medium with a variety of styles and approaches and an abundance of visual charm.
(Images above: Cordellia Jones, Stanislav Filipov, Rosamund Fowler, John Bryce, François Maréchal, Geri Waddington, Sarah van Niekerk)
73rd Annual Exhibition (online gallery)
Bankside Gallery in London, 21 January to 2 February 2011
4 Replies to “The Society of Wood Engravers”
A couple of these are indeed very Escher-like to my eyes – the second from the top, and the lizard panels second from the bottom.
I’ve seen a few of these in real life already and it’s an exhibition I always enjoy going to see.
You might like the website of their President – Hilary Paynter http://www.hilarypaynter.com/
Over time, a number of well known British artists have been past members and the society has also managed to attract work by even more famous artists to their annual exhibition in the past eg Paul Gauguin!
Their website also offers excellent links to more information about wood engraving.
I never fail to visit this site without carrying away new and interesting information about art. Ignoramus that I am, I hadn’t realized that wood engraving was distinct, or at least a subset of, wood cuts. The line and detail on these engravings you highlight is incredible.
One of the founders of the Society was Gwen Raverat, Charles Darwin’s granddaughter. She wrote a marvelous book called “Period Piece” filled with her hilarious woodcuts. Highly recommended.
Comments are closed.