Thursday, October 01, 2015

A Modernist Cut in the Linoleum

All Ways,
Any Way,
Every Way,
Only Try,
To find

Sybil Andrews

The British/Canadian artist Sybil Andrews’ first job after leaving school was as an apprentice welder in an aircraft factory building the first metal airplanes during World War I. During the Second World War she returned to the trade in the shipyard of the British Power Boat Company. During the period between the wars Andrews’ pursued her childhood dream of becoming an artist.

As reported by Michael Parkin in the Independent newspaper “We had a paint-box from the cradle,” Andrews said, “not with the idea of being wonderful artists, but as a way of keeping us quiet and amused.”

But art was more than an amusement for Andrews and in the final years of her welding apprenticeship she took John Hassall's Art Correspondence Course. Such was her ability that upon its completion Andrews became an art teacher at the Portland House School in the British market town of Bury St Edmunds.

In 1922 at the age of 24 Andrews moved to London to attend the Heatherley's School of Fine Art. This was followed by her attendance at The Grosvenor School of Modern Art where she worked as a secretary to fund her tution.

It was at The Grosvenor that Andrews’ found her artistic voice through the medium of the linocut and the inspiration of the Modernists. Often collaborating with fellow artist Cyril Power, Andrews’ produced a body of work that concentrated upon sport, urban life, manual work and religion as subject matter.

Andrews created pared-down images that used color to express, rather than depict, the detail in her images. A process she likened to a madrigal with a Soprano, a Treble, a Tenor and a Bass.
And about which she has said “The linocut print is not simple or easy. First the carving of the blocks – each in itself can be exciting, a low-relief carving in its own right. The long careful printing, which is hard work, several times each block, all take energy and time.”

In 1947 Andrews along with her husband Walter Morgan immigrated to Canada to escape the “poor British economy after World War II and the rigid British class system.” They settled in an ocean front cottage in the remote British Columbia town of Campbell River.

For the next 45 years Andrews would continue to make her linocuts and augment their meager income by teaching. An endeavored in which she tried to bring out an individual way of seeing for each of her pupils.

And about which she has said “My teaching grew just as a plant or tree grows, leaf by leaf, branch by branch, and a tree takes a lifetime in its growing.”

London’s Osborne Samuel Modern and Contemporary Art has a selection of Andrews’ works on show until the 10th of October to coincide with the publication of Sybil Andrews A Complete Catalogue.

No comments: