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. 

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Carlton Ware

36. Carlton Ware biscuit barrel, 'Raspberry' design.

I have a motley collection of pottery in the house. These Carlton Ware pieces must have been wedding presents for my parents in the thirties. There were a feature of my childhood, but the inner rim of the biscuit barrel became chipped and the sauce boat lost its leaf shaped saucer so they were abandoned on a shelf in my mother's pantry. I've had them on display in my kitchen for years, attracted by their colours and their ridiculous designs.

37. Pottery ornament, unmarked 33 x30cm.

This is another ornament that I acquired many years ago from home. My father carted it back from somewhere on the continent in the years before he was married. His growing interest in fine china meant that I could carry off this large, lumpy object as soon as I had a home of my own to put it in. It sits on our dining room windowcill where I regard it with affection.  

38. Religious pottery, maker and purpose unknown.

 We spotted this ornament whilst driving through Wales on our way to crew on a friend's boat. It was one of a pair in 'Antiques Unlimited' in Cardiff, priced five pounds, ten shillings each. It is evidence of the state of our finances at the time that we couldn't afford to buy the pair and came out of the shop with just this one.