A reader kindly sent me some prints by Mabel Royds (1874- 1941) not long ago and as I knew that readers would enjoy them, here they are. Some are rarely seen and others I have never seen myself. I like them all so it's a personal choice but once I had the images you see here all together, I noticed for the first time how well she uses both black and white. Looking at them, you would scarcely believe I didn't intend to make a point. The use of white as a form of negative space where she has chosen white subjects like goats, cyclamens or lilies shows by just how much she considered what she was doing in her prints. There is none of the usual recourse to snow - even at its most subtle as we've seen with Paul Leschhorn. What, of course, she does do is take a close look and crop the image quite severely, giving all of them - even the French genre scene of the girl leaning over the fence - a quite abstract feel. It shows by just how much abstraction was an underlying theme even with representational artists.
Another notable feature is her sense of rhythm and pattern. There is nothing showy about these images. They are as well-thought-out as they are understated and I think you can see exactly why she became a teacher. Here is someone who is as much in control as the girl is with the goat. So far as that image goes, I particularly like the way the girl and the animal face different ways but that she connects them with the pattern made by the fence. She relates them with considerable care, one as tied as the other. One daydreams while the other eats. This is quite some way from the standard farmyard scene.
Her admiration for the workmanship and activity of the people of India is translated here into great craftsmanship of her own. She presented the Indians in her prints as busy people, absorbed in what they are doing. The sense of slowly opening flowers - specially these lilies - may put us in mind of the underlying symbolism of oriental life. But she never tries too hard and perhaps she is barely conscious of it herself. Although I prefer the later prints, I still now think the flower woodcuts of the 1930s very much follow on from the Indian work of the 1920s.
One reader had already made a request for the waterlilies and hopefully this image is satisfactory! I found myself almost taking the texture of the print for granted but it is quite unusual - it looks like a linocut the way she has printed it. Her brushwork doesn't really show up on any photo but thank you once again to John Shillito who provided all of these.