Each of the artists included in this exhibition takes their own unique approach to illustration, whether by embracing the new technology of their time like Toulouse-Lautrec, enriching and expanding the British graphic tradition like Michael Ayrton and John Minton, or simply by enjoying their chosen medium like Sam Knowles and Stephen Jeffrey.

KNOWLES, Sam - Indian Ocean, Reduction linocut.jpg
MINTON, John - Time Was Away VII, 1948, lithograph.jpg

For the woodblock artists of Edo-era Japan, their work brought classic tales to life. Workshops of highly skilled craftspeople hand-carved each block which was delicately printed with natural inks, producing affordable prints and books. Similarly, many of the painters and sculptors commonly referred to as ‘Modern British Artists’ completed a wide range of graphic projects, including dust jackets, poster designs and book illustrations. This provided artists with not just a secondary source of income, but a means to bring their work to a much wider audience, without compromising in the quality of images they produced. Artists like John Piper, Leon Underwood and Robert Colquhoun collaborated with the country’s leading print houses to make work that was an extension of their practice in the studio.

Illustration can bring words to life. It can draw viewers in and help them find their way. It can be visually appealing, or challenging and confrontational. Above all it can, and should, stand as a work of art in its own right.

Sam Knowles - At Sea, reduction linocut
John Minton - Time Was Away, lithograph
Stephen Jeffrey - Shipbuilding, linocut

© The Artist  /  © Artist's Estate
All works are available for sale

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In collaboration with the Laing Art Gallery