As for linocut, it had been promoted as suitable for use by children in Vienna long before it arrived in Britain. It didn't make the break-through here until the 'Children's Art Exhibition' was held was held in London in 1921. Allen Seaby must have gone to see it because he was writing about linocut for educational purposes soon afterwards. Claude Flight's much more famous book Lino-Cut followed in 1927). Lino isn't very durable but it is easy to manipulate and, as Flight never tired of saying, it was simple enough to achieve a sense of being modern. Whether or not this makes Pearse's Seals worth £200 is another thing, but after seeing St. Trinian's, I think I would pause for thought before I coughed up. But I did buy in the Cotswolds (above) and I'm glad I did.
Splash shows part of the sea-front at Exmouth in Devon very near to where I had a bed-sit type of flat in the mid-seventies, so, for all her ways, I must take Norah's side. (She came from Exmouth and she appeals). What should be obvious by now is that Pearse was aware of London trends (and exhibited with the Graver Printers) and had what Clive Christie would always call 'an aesthetic'. The subdued tones of the prints are very thirties just as much as the observation of social life. What is interesting is the way Pearse moves easily between the social life of seals and tigers and even trees and the everyday activities of human beings. She also makes good use of the free line that linocut so readily allows without going in for the kind of pattern-making that followers of Flight tended to adopt after a stint with him at the Grosvenor School.
Ladies surfing (above) reminds me of the more vigorous approach taken by Julia Mavrogordato whose work she would have known. This image has turned up since the post was written and it is obvious to me that Pearse not only had a linocut style all of her own but an approach to subject matter that is unlike anyone else. Images of people enjoying themselves was a thirties thing but I suspect many artists steered clear in case they came across as slight or sentimental.
Where she does depart from Flight and all of them is in her use of perspective. She was more modern in her subject matter than in her manner. Of tigers, watched by children has the Pearse sense of humour, the unpredictability of the tigers matched by the kiddies beyond the bars. I have no doubt she knew the linocuts of Norbertine Bresslern Roth but again she goes her own way and this is why she interests me. Look at the way she plays off the tiger-stripes and the bars, and the effects she gains with patches of light and shadow. The anecdotal humour shouldn't detract from the complicated arrangement of the print. It wasn't that easy to get all the figures right and she wisely limited herself as always to a narrow range of colour. And again it works. Picasso it isn't but nice it is and it's a shame this is the only image available. At least we now have a better idea of what she could do.
And thanks to Gerrie Caspers at The Linosaurus for sorting out the lithograph from Exter.