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Saturday, 29 January 2011


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Gordon Clarke

I've just bought a wood-engraving by Jack Hillier - not signed, but I bought it as by 'J Hillier'. I wondered if you knew anything about that side of his work, for instance when he made them (presumably in the forties and fifties) and how many there were. It's a very nice thing, in good condition. I can always send you a scan. I'm writing a book about modern British relief prints and thought Jack and Bevis might help to make a good finale. My own site is Modern Printmakers.

G. R. Collia

I don't know how many wood engravings Jack Hillier produced in total throughout his life. I have an album which contains a selection of his works - 'A Selection of Wood Engravings 1933-1987' - which contains forty-three engravings (predominantly from the thirties), so there were obviously more. The album also includes a short bio, written by Jack Hillier himself. It had a very limited print run intended for private circulation, so I don't know if copies every come up for sale at all. He also illustrated his book 'Old Surrey Water-Mills' with his own wood engravings; I am extremely fond of his images of water-mills and have two hanging right beside me here.

Gordon Clarke

Thank you, Gina. The one I have shows a lane with a church and a lych-gate to the other side. For someone who is so little known for wood-engraving, it is surprisingly good. Does it appear in the album with a date? I understand from The Independant obit. that he was self-taught.

Yes, I saw the book when I first googled around. Not particualrly cheap or I would have gone for it. I liked the look of it, too.

G. R. Collia

There is one that fits your description; the church is on the left, the lych gate is on the right. It's dated 1936.

It's a wonderful book. He was a multi-talented man; it's a shame that his wood engravings aren't more widely known. He made cards with his designs on too. I should write a post about his wood engravings and reproduce some images; he deserves a much wider audience, and I think some Japanese print enthusiasts, who are familiar only with his books about Japanese art, would be astonished to find that Jack Hillier had so many strings to his bow.

Gordon Clarke

That's the one. I shall have a look to see whether the British Library have a copy of the album. The print I now have reminds me of Claughton Pellew's work. I also wonder whether he tried making colour woodcuts in the Japanese manner. But I must read his work, obviously. Did you ever come across the work of Steven Hutchins? He made a couple of colour woodcuts in the 1980s using Frank Morley Fletcher's handbook as a guide. You will find the post if you google his name if it's of interest.

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A blog by Gina Collia-Suzuki: Art historian, history nut, writer, artist, Victorianist, bibliophile, vegetarian foodie, child of the Enlightenment, friend of Charles Darwin, full-time rat fancier and part-time assassin.

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