“The Ship and Castle” Copyright Chris N Wood All Rights Reserved available from Jack House Gallery Old Portsmouth
At art school, in the early 1970’s, I did a lot of etching and have since dabbled from time to time but until recently, I would not really describe myself as a printmaker. However, over the last five years, after been bitten by the print bug, I have rekindled my interest in printmaking, dividing my time between painting and producing hand made linocuts and wood engravings. I became a member of OMEGA PRINTMAKERS in Portsmouth and have regularly contributed work to their annual (now bi-annual) show in St Thomas’s Cathedral in Old Portsmouth – producing numerous lino-cuts of my two passions, boats and architecture. In addition, The Jack House Gallery stock both my Pompey Pub Series and a number of my Americas Cup Linocuts.
“The Old Customs House” Copyright Chris N Wood All Rights Reserved available from Jack House Gallery Old Portsmouth
I trained as an illustrator and narrative, craft skills and meticulous attention to detail are the cornerstones of my image making. My heroes are too numerous to mention but Edward Bawden, Eric Ravilious, David Gentleman and Paul Hogarth rank very highly ! Like them, I too enjoy working to a theme and I often produce a series of inter-related pieces, the most recent of which are my collection of limited edition linocuts of pubs ! I live and work in Portsmouth on the South Coast and the island is one of the most densely populated Cities in Britain – consequently there are a lot of pubs and churches, both of which are fast disappearing. I foolishly thought it might be nice to preserve their memory by immortalizing some of the more iconic pubs as prints. Whilst it’s tempting to work from historic photos and do pubs that are no longer extant, I have been concentrating on documenting the here and now, working from a combination of sketches that I produce on site, plus photos taken with my trusty ipad. I also find Google Earth very useful tool.
My first lino cut of the “Pompey Pub Series” was “The Pembroke”, which rather than being a simple portrait of the building – it’s a story about two businessmen walking towards the pub. In the distance is the clock tower of St Thomas’s Cathedral and to the right are some of the decorative Victorian buildings that distinguish the area. I edit out things that don’t appeal to me – so the 1950’s buildings that are further down Pembroke Rd have not been included in the composition! “The Pembroke” was quickly followed by “The Bridge Tavern” and to me, as a keen sailor, a fishing boat had to be included in the image, so again we have a story about the pub not just a portrait. Over time the format of the series has organically grown and the images are becoming more complex. I am used to working with pen and ink and like to include as much architectural detail as possible but with lino you have to scale up as the tools are less precise than a dipping pen – so the size of the prints are usually A3 (297x420mm) and depending on the composition sometimes the format is portrait and sometimes it’s landscape. I use a variety of specialised tools and resort to picking away at the surface with a surgeons scalpel ! I like pure black and white and contrasting shapes so my work is characterised by the graphic qualities of line and shape.
As I have said the images are evolving and more recent ones have become a record of a walk to the pub so in my compositions you will see not just the pub but the surrounding areas too and this is achieved by combining several “views” together and twisting or distorting the perspective as witnessed in “The Ship and Castle”. I enjoy these mind games and am looking forward to adding to the Pompey Pubs a collection from my two former stamping grounds London and East Anglia, where I went to art college and learned to appreciate fine ale – one has to do ones research !
To see a selection of the Portsmouth Pub series – check out my new exhibition : Portsmouth in Paint and Print : Edward Beal, Chris N Wood and Sadie Tierney at The Jack House Gallery from 15.7.16.
Chris N Wood