Life in reverse – wood engraving exhibition

DP13%20MillstonesWood engraving was not an art form being celebrated enough in the Peak District according to Nicholas Pitts-Tucker.

He decided he had to do something about it and hosted a dozen of the country’s leading wood engravers in Dovedale so that they could create 40 images capturing the landscape and life of the Peak District.

The artists, who are all members of the Society of Wood Engravers, spent four long-weekends here in 2013 – from the depths of winter with those memorable snowstorms to spring with its blue skies and abundance of wild flowers.

The result is Dark and White – The Peak Prints Collection, which is to be exhibited across the county from April to October.

“My wife Ruth and I have seen wood engravings elsewhere and yet it seemed hardly anyone was doing it here in the Peak District,” explained Nick.

“We felt that the landscape here with its crags, river gorges, stone walls, woods and ancient carved stones was perfect for their art form and decided to sponsor the creation of this collection.”

The couple teamed up with Rob and Jo Wood, the owners of Alstonefield Manor, which is a beautiful bed and breakfast venue, to complete the project and get it exhibited.

The engravings will be shown at galleries, country homes, festivals and National Trust venues and will be first at Gallerytop at Rowsley from April 12 to May 5 and will be at The Ridgeway Gallery in Bakewell in June and at Derwent Gallery, Grindleford later in the year.

Among the artists taking part were Harry Brockway, Miriam Macgregor, Hilary Paynter, Christ Daunt and Sue Scullard some of whom can be seen talking about their art work on video. Just scan the QR code below left to watch it.

Between all 12 artists they have created images of among other landmarks, the millstones at Stanage Edge, Ilam Rock, Minninglow, Cleulow Cross, Arbor Low, Bakewell Church, Monsal Dale viaduct, Thor’s Cave, the Tissington Spires and Dove Holes.

There are also engravings of a butcher, bell ringers, sheep, wild garlic, Chatsworth maze and a buzzard over The Roaches.

Wood engraving is one of the most exquisite forms of print making and the artists generally use box wood for their work. They tend to be closely worked and relatively small because the tools used are finely pointed.

“The work of these artists really is quite skilful. You need a pretty powerful brain to be able to work in reverse and there is no way you can make a mistake. It really has been a wonderful experience for us to be able to sponsor this collection,” said Nick.

The engravings are hand printed, signed and titled by the artists and form a numbered edition and will be on sale for prices ranging from £60 to £180 and they can all be seen at Click on the Peak Prints Project on the home page.