Wednesday, 18 December 2013
Christmas with George Scott Ingles
Here is an artist who is usually passed over when it comes to his colour woodcuts, mainly because he appeared to make very few of them. He came from Roxburgh in Scotland but spent his working life as a teacher, largely at Leicester School of Art where he eventually became principal. He was an early graduate of the newly formed Royal College in London in 1900.
It was at Leicester that he must have got to know John Platt who was principal himself between 1923 and 1930. The church tower has some of the Platt traits, including a sophisticated use of colour and overlapping planes. It is in fact remarkably modern looking for 1927 and shows just how early the 1930s really began. On the face of it, it also has all the tell-tale signs of the arts and crafts with its depiction of the kind of a sturdy church beloved of so many unbelieving artists. Looking at it, I did think it was a modern arts and crafts church, but I was wrong. The church of St Leonard at Bulford in Wiltshire is one of the oldest in the country (and one of the few to be owned by the Ministry of Defence).
I assume it also has a personal connection with Ingles, because a Canadian cleric called George Leycester Ingles was buried there during the first war after dying of disease, so the print acts as a momento to him, something so far rare in the jazzed-up world of colour woodcut. It perhaps also helps explain the peculiar dignity and restraint of the image. You will notice that Ingles nevertheless altered the proportions of the tower, which did have a cock on top of it at some point after the photograph was taken. By the time Ingles came to make his print, the cock had disappeared, leaving only the metal support behind.
Interesting too the way he decided to make use of the ivy-clad farm elms around the church, which you can see growing all around the village like weeds. Kenneth Broad, a great one for trees, picked up the same kinds of elms growing around his Sussex farmhouse. (The ancient hybrids were closely linked with habitation). Ingles didn't start making colour woodcuts until he was in his early fifties and sad to say I've only comes across three titles, all exhibited between 1927 and 1930, so if anyone out there has more, please let me know. This is the only one I have ever seen
Anyway, this is a long-winded way of wishing all readers of Modern Printmakers a very Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year. I will be posting until then, but after that it will be the Koutoubia at Marrakech rather than the snowy wastes of central England for me.