Thursday, 21 July 2011


39. Etching, zinc plate, badly bitten and wiped!

I have many prints, some, as above, are my own, and others made by friends, or bought. They are an excellent source of memories.
I learnt printmaking at Leeds College of Art. The etching studio was up a flight of rickety stairs in the attics of the art school. Hanging next to the door was an etching by Anthony Gross of a Parisian park. It was a beautiful print, deserving of the close inspection that I regularily gave it. There was an intimacy to working in this studio, which was a small, private space compared to the painting studios below. Long ruminative conversations could be had whilst removing acid bubbles from the plate with the stroke of a feather, or any of the other procedures that demanded a pace of their own. Some of my happiest times at college were spent in the confines of this eyrie, with its smell of damp paper and acid fumes.

40. 'Fishpond' etching by Anthony Gross.

This print was bought from a gallery in St Ives. I was thrilled to own an Anthony Gross etching of my own and the subject seemed particularly suitable. We had spent the summer before our marriage in an abandoned farmhouse in the south of France. My first task had been to set about clearing the water cistern, a large area of dammed stream that had been entirely taken over by plant growth. It was a messy task but worthwhile because, once cleared, we had somewhere to swim. We went to market and bought some ducklings who enjoyed the water as much as we did and kept it free of snails. The postman inherited a duck when we returned to England and I later heard that he ate it for Christmas!
41. 'Fragment' wood engraving by Philip Burbidge.

This small and rather mysterious print, measuring only 4x5 cm, was made by one of Peter's students at Bristol College of Art. He bought several of Philip's prints, this one chosen because it illustrates a figure who shares my family name of Isabella.


Vetches both yellow and blue
Grew thick in the meadow lane
Isabella's shawl kept off the dew
As thickly upon her it came
A thorn bush caught her umbrella
As though it would bid her to stay
But the loving and loved Isabella
Went laughing and walking away.

42. Japanese hand-printed woodblocks by Watanabe Seitei 

These very subtle images, produced around 1890-91, were bought mounted, as seen, from a shop in the city of York. We were living at that time in an old farmhouse with a large, overgrown garden through which birds flew, often at shoulder height. These woodblocks describe exactly the fragility and the beauty that was around us.

43. 'Franchieux' etching and aquatint on copper plate.

I made this etching (of the duck that the postman ate!) using the William Hayter technique that I had been taught in my final year at Goldsmith's College. The plate was given a brown intaglio inking followed by a roll of blue pigment to produce a coloured print in a single pressing.

44. 'Ulla' etching and aquatint by Rolf-Dietrich Ratzmann.

We had spent our summer in France with our college friend Rolf, who had studied at Dortmund Art School before coming to join us in Leeds, eventually moving to the Sorbonne. He was an energetic artist and our conversations were always a lively exchange of ideas and methods, as evidenced here by his using the same technique that I had employed in the 'Franchieux' etching. Rolf's image is of Ulla, his wife, pregnant with their first child.

nb. All the above prints are framed and have been photographed through glass, with limited success. 


  1. Anthony Gross taught H.I. print-making at the Slade, Cher. She has just looked over my shoulder and said he was a 'lovely man'. He helped her with her coloured dry-points, apparently.

    She is also very envious of your Japanese black crow print!

  2. What a treat for H.I. to be taught by such a man. Yes, I love the bird print. Peter made a large carving based on this idea soon after the purchase of these prints.

  3. They have just announced the death of Lucian Freud - now we really CANNOT afford one of his paintings!

    H.I.'s personal tutor was Frank Auerbach, and he is going to be upset by this sad news.

  4. AG lived quite nearby, and he invited me to his 'chateau'. A very nice man, and of course one of England's greatest printers. I love his Village Fête type prints; summer hats, flowing dresses, bikes, kites, etc.

    I hadn't heard about LF. Sad. RIP.

    p.s. Was it you who knew my wife's cousin, who was head of Graphics at Leeds?

  5. Yes it was you; I remember. (I've only just got up). Richard Chesterman. Doh!

    However, I still can't remember the name of AG's village.

  6. My print was made in 1931, some time before Gross went to live in the village of Le Boulve.

    Yes, I was in the same year as Jack's wife, Josie, and he was in the year above us.

  7. Le Boulvé, of course. His studio was wonderful with a HUGE cast iron, big wheeled, press in the center. I think one of his children is there now.