Woodcuts come of age

Peter Polaine at the Pin Mill Studio until July 18 2008. Woodcuts can feel really old-fashioned. They may be very clever when done well, but can be too reminiscent of childhood and rainy afternoons with grandmother's books, with black and white illustrations, to while away the hours.

Peter Polaine at the Pin Mill Studio until July 18 2008.

Woodcuts can feel really old-fashioned. They may be very clever when done well, but can be too reminiscent of childhood and rainy afternoons with grandmother's books, with black and white illustrations, to while away the hours.

At the Pin Mill Studio, the exhibition of hand-made prints by Peter Polaine bring the art of woodcuts into the modern era with a contemporary slant to some of the subject matter, a touch of humour and some pleasing colours too.

A helpful leaflet explains to gallery visitors that all Peter Polaine's works are originals and shouldn't be confused with the reproduction prints commonly available. They are produced in very limited edition runs of between ten and twenty-five, and are printed on an antique Columbian printing press on acid free handmade paper.


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In Christmas Dinner a wide-eyed cat looks at the fish on a plate, and you expect his pink tongue to lick his lips at any moment. A set of three stylish nudes, including the languishing Reclining Nude, are shown silhouetted against a background of primary colours, and in Blue Tablecloth, the checker-board cloth with it's plate of fruit, almost flutters flag-like in it's frame.

I expected a nautical theme of some sort for an exhibition at a gallery overlooking the River Orwell, but neither a ship, rowing boat nor a muddy foreshore was to be seen. However, the trees bending in the wind (Suffolk Firs) and the black and white woodcuts of animals were particularly pleasing. Some do indeed look as though they should be illustrating a children's book (Laughing Fox and Geoff, the tousled dog)…. but only a very good one.

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Rachel Sloane

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