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Internationally renowned printmaker Ian Phillips features in Dundee exhibition alongside Tayside artists

Rooks Wait by Ian Phillips
Rooks Wait by Ian Phillips

Printmaking is mysterious art form to many people.

The magical transformation of metal, wood, stone and lino to create beautiful pictures takes hours of work and years of experience and should never be confused with the commercial printing techniques used in mass reproductions.

One man at the cutting edge of his craft is Ian Phillips RCA, an internationally renowned printmaker living in mid Wales.

He has been working in hand printed reduction linocut for over 20 years.

Ian Phillips – Quiet Sea

He specialises in consecutive series of prints taken from drawings done while walking long distance footpaths or exploring particular areas of interest.

His reduction lino and woodcuts, by their very nature, are low in edition, as each layer of the image can only be printed once, then being cut away making way for the next layer.

“A chance encounter with a small book of ‘Hiroshiges 53 stages of the Tokaido’ woodcuts, whilst studying illustration at Leicester Polytechnic, seduced me into the world of relief print from which I never escaped,” explains Ian.

“I’ve been trying to catch the delicate sensibilities of seasonal weather and the dramatic natural compositions of Japanese prints ever since.

Ian Phillips – Moon Lit

“I taught myself lino cut reduction printmaking while working as a freelance Illustrator in London.

“In 2001 I moved to Wales to concentrate on the landscape and becoming a better print maker.

“I have now been working with lino for over 20 years and have exhibited widely across the country as well as at The Mall Galleries, London, and in Hong Kong and the US.”

Inspirational residency

Ian explains that he recently had a very inspirational residency to the Djumbunji Print studio, Cairns, Australia, which has added an extra dimension to his printmaking and led to the work in the Bestiary series.

He has also been a demonstrator at Art in Action, Oxford where he met Merlyn Chesterman, a chance meeting which led to the exciting collaboration which is Pine Feroda and the production of the large scale woodcuts for which Pine is becoming well known.

More recently Pine Feroda had a fascinating trip to The Purple Bamboo studio at the China Academy of Arts in Hangzhou, China.

They learned the art of Chinese water woodcut with Professor Wang Chao. “My printing process today still starts with a walk and a sketchbook as it’s always done,” says Ian, who was elected to the Royal Cambrian Academy in 2010.

“Following lonely trails over empty hills, down twisting forests tracks, or along cliff side paths looking for complete compositions full of pattern and texture.

Rooks Wait by Ian Phillips

“Catching the subtleties of weather and the natural drama of the landscape, these line black and white drawings are then taken back to the studio enlarged and traced onto a lino sheet.

“This is when the process becomes all about pattern. The print may begin as a simple scribble in a sketchbook but as soon as you start on the lino, the process becomes about gouging and cutting marks.

“These marks then become a picture through creating pattern, texture and decoration. Once the cutting is done the work with ink, rollers and colour begins.”

Dundee exhibition

Ian’s work features in an exhibition of printmakers called Cutting Edge running at Gallery Q in Nethergate, Dundee, from August 28 to September 18.

Liz Myhill – Wren

Alongside Ian there is a selection of artists bringing together different printmaking techniques for enjoyment and appreciation.

From Tayside and Angus there is Liz Myhill RSW, Jean Martin RSW, John Johnstone, Anne Skinner, Anne Russell, Les Mackay and, new to the gallery, Bob Ballantine and Jane Walker.

Jane studied illustration and printmaking at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee before following a career in design at the BBC in London.

Jane Walker – Figs and Lanterns

She has now come full circle and returned to her first love, printmaking and particularly linocuts.

From Fife, the exhibition features Hilke and Ian MacIntyre along with Joe Davie. Falkland-based Joe is graduate of Glasgow School of Art and has artworks in many public collections.

In his quirky compositions, visitors encounter hapless heroes, pantomime villains, contemporary pilgrims, channel swimmers, lost shoppers and Scottish animals.

Joe Davie – Confident Swimmer

His mixed media prints and paintings are characterised by deliberation, spontaneity and contradiction.

Meanwhile, from Edinburgh, there’s Cat Outram and Dylan Bell; and from Wales, Bob Guy and Paul Croft TMP RE.

Croft qualified as a master printer at the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque in 1996 and now teaches printmaking at the School of Art in Aberystwyth.

Bob Guy – Back Yard Blues

He has written and published two books on Stone Lithography (2001) and Plate Lithography (2003). He was elected as a Fellow of The Royal Society Painter Printmakers in 2008.

*Cutting Edge, Gallery Q, Nethergate, Dundee, runs from August 28 until September 18. All work can be seen online at