Friday, 21 July 2017
A Sussex wave from Japan, the colour woodcuts of Eric Slater & Arthur Rigden Read: Hastings Museum and Art Gallery
In 1934 a friend of Arthur Rigden Read gave fifteen of his colour woodcuts to Hastings Art Gallery and I assume the fifteen colour woodcuts form the basis for the current exhibition at Hastings, but which also includes work by Urushibara, John Platt, Eric Slater and Frank Morley Fletcher, an interesting mix of colour woodcut artists who all made use of the Japanese method, hence the title of the exhibition.
Eric Slater was nowhere near as good a printmaker as Read, but he will help to bring in the crowds. It would be fair to say they formed a local school of sorts in the late twenties and thirties, but the Reads lived in Sussex for twenty years only and many of his subjects were French or Londoners or people like the Romanies who came from nowhere, so it's a shame curators try to give a minor artist this duff local slant. Read may be minor but he deserves better. As does his wife, who appears in a number of his woodcuts.
The show runs from 27th May to 3rd September and will appeal to the summer crowds as well as local cognoscenti. It will be worth going simply because I know that the bequest includes a number of prints that are rare enough to be unavailable anywhere online. Certainly I have never seen some of them, but they have not been included in the booklet that has been published to coincide with the exhibition. But the less said about that little effort the better.