Research Point: Edward and Richard Bawden

Edward Bawden (1903 – 1989)

Originally trained in graphic design, Bawden worked mainly as an illustrator. I appreciate these works and it is interesting to see how the artist worked the composition to create complicated yet successful designs.

Even though the intention of the research was to look at the artist’s multi-colour prints, I was particularly taken with his single colour images which illustrated the 1987 version of the ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’, here. The artist has succesfully depicted an atmosphere fitting with the gothic narrative, which I find appealing.

Bawden’s multi-block technique was sophisticated and complex. For his work “Autumn”, 1950 he used 3 blocks with ten different colours. His process incorporated a series of printing and reprinting with a number of colours on each block. He did not print the entire block every time, and I would assume that he would have masked certain areas off. He also applied ink in small areas in a stippling effect to add interest. (Wedell, 2013). He overlapped colours in places and also reversed the traditional method of printing light to dark colours in order.

The artist also varied the scale of his work. The print “Liverpool St Station”, 1960 was one of the largest prints to be made with a length of over 1.83 metres. It was so large that a press could not be used and Bawden needed to ask a group of art students to stand on the block in order to get enough pressure for the transfer to the paper.

From this demonstration of his work the viewer can see the artist’s willingness to experiment with the technical processes of the printmaking media.

I would like to experiment with using masks and different colours on each plate as I progress through the course.

Richard Bawden

Edward Bawden’s son, he has followed in his father’s footsteps. I was interested to read his personal artist statement and his working method on the Mall Galleries website. It is clear that he takes time over the initial planning stage, initially  from life as a starting point, believing that drawing is an expressive medium that adds to the feeling within his final works.

Bawden, the younger, worked in a range of themes mainly working with imagery from the natural world contrasted with prints of domestic interiors.

Looking at one of his multicolour prints “Two Mackerel”, 1936 it is clear that he adapted a number of working methods from his father. He probaby used 3 or 4 blocks but used a variety of masks and inking in certain areas to build up the range of colours. Some ink would have been overlapped in areas to create additional colours. What also interests me is that the print was not perfect – some of the colours overlap the outines used, which perhaps adds to a slightly more expressive and interesting print than sheer perfect registration would have offered.

it as been an interesting exercise looking at the work of these two master linocut artists and seeing exactly what is possible with the medium. It has opened up my eyes and made me realise that an artist can produce very complicated images and a vast number of colours whilst using just three or four plates. THis has given me food for thought for the future.



Weddell, J. Edward Bawden -Master of linocut. December 2013. {Accessed 12th February 2016.}



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