December 27, 2013

More Bold

        Ten days ago I shared some fantasy wood block prints by the mysterious Alan Bold.  Today I want to share a few more of his scenes that aren’t particularly fantastical.  (These illustrations do also come from a book of stories by Walter de la Mare, so they may be set in fantasy worlds; I don’t know.)  All three share a certain similarity in composition, with clear framing.  The first two especially share the trick of showing a glimpse of some bright scene through the framing of a dark area.  The dark foregrounds look lush and close with their layers of foliage.  The images place us deep in the natural world of woodland creatures, while the human world is only glimpsed in the distance, like some forbidden heaven.  The deer and huge flowers in the first one look almost Oriental, like a Persian or Mughal miniature, perhaps.  The creatures in the second have more personality - is
that a rabbit with its funny too-big head, and a squirrel with leafy ears?  I particularly like their bright eyes and enjoy that Bold has made me, the viewer, part of the animals’ conference.
        The third piece has another little bright-eyed creature, but I have no idea what it’s supposed to be.  And this time the framing is in reverse: the little beast is perched on the windowsill at the edge of the human world, looking back out toward the natural world.  It looks to be pretty high up, too, unlike the low vantage point of the others.  I find the leaves on the left that look like horse chestnut leaves to be especially pleasing, for some reason.

        All in all I’ve been quite delighted by all these woodcuts by Bold, and I’m sorry not to be able to find out anything more about him or what other work he might have done.

[Pictures: three wood block prints by Alan Bold, from Broomsticks and Other Tales by Walter de la Mare, 1925. (Images from 50 Watts)]

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