Monday, 4 February 2013

Sydney Lee at the RA & Aberystwyth


I know that I have not always been kind to Sydney Lee, but the forthcoming exhibtion of fifty prints at the Royal Academy in London is nevertheless a must for your diary. Lee played a pivotal role in the early days of modern British printmaking. He was one of the first practitioners of colour woodcut, then took over Frank Morley Fletcher's class at the Central School, which morphed into Noel Rooke's famous and highly influential wood-engraving class.

The show runs from 27th February to 26th May, 2013, and will be held in the Tennant Gallery and Council Room, and coincides with the publication of Robert Meyrick's catalogue of Lee's prints. Robert, who is professor and head of the school of art at Aberystwyth University, has also curated the show. (Some years ago Robert published a very enjoyable and must-have book, 'Edgar Hollway and friends' about the artist's personal collection). The exhibition then opens at Aberystwyth on 17th June and runs untill 6th September.

Of the three British print exhibtions I have posted on over the past year, this will certainly be the most thorough. I know that Robert has been buying Lee's colour woodcuts far and wide and this will be a one-and-only chance for you to see these rare and unusual prints at first hand.

You can see some of Lee's large, painterly wood-engravings propped up behind him in the photograph, including one showing the Kissing Bridge at Walberswick to the right, eventually made famous for readers of Modern Printmakers by SG Boxsius with his glorious At Walberswick. But you only have to look at Lee's 'Sloop Inn' and this view of St Ives, above, to see what Boxsius learned from Lee.

 Easy to get to, not to be missed. You will find his colour woodcuts in December, 2011.



  1. Oh come on haven't really been generous with Mr. Lee. I think he is a giant of British printmaking and I am delighted he is having a little corner of the art world dedicated to celebrating that. I think the woodcut of St Ives is wonderful, and it's clear also how much influence he held over the post-Victorian printmaking arena in the U.K. It's a pity I cannot see the exhibition but no doubt it will be tremendously informative.

    Lee, as you point out, was no dabbler. He knew his stuff...and it shows.

  2. I don't think I would go so far as the call Lee a giant but this show will give people the opportunity to see what he could do and make their own minds up instead of reading what we have to say. It will also be a chance to see a rare exhibition about the prints of a period that we all enjoy.

    A review will follow once it opens.