January 23, 2018

Laurence's Towns

        I recently discovered some work by Anita Laurence (Australia), and I just love her linoleum block prints of cities.  These are not cities that I know well myself, so I can’t look at them with an eye to picking out familiar landmarks or recognizing beloved quirks, but I still find them absolutely charming.  You can see that they all share a very similar style, with the buildings arranged in tiers going up the paper.  Some have horizontal rows, while others have  a zigzag layout.  Three have a body of water across the bottom; two are backed by mountains; they all have a variety of architecture and a variety of textures.
        The first piece, Cork, Ireland, is the one of these cities I have visited, but I’m pretty sure you can’t get a view like this.  In other words, this is schematic rather than landscapey; it’s a conceptual portrait of the city rather than a photographic view.  I love
the balance between stylization and detail, not only just in the buildings but also in the trees and background textures of earth, water, and hills.  I like the simplification of the solid black buildings in the background.
        Most stylized of all is Wangaratta, Australia, with a sky full of pattern, a river full of fish, and neatly geometric trees.  Except for the fish, I see no people or animals in any of these pieces, but they still seem busily active.  I like the lampposts with the carved lines around them, and the variety of textures on all the buildings.  This whole piece is just so much fun!
        The next piece is listed as being in Ireland, I assume Cork again with the Shandon bell tower in the upper left.  That would explain the two rows of river.  This piece seems more serious and monumental, with its dark sky and dramatic clouds, more sober lines, and more realistic trees.
        And finally, Mount Stuart, Australia, with a lot more landscape interwoven with its buildings.  Here Laurence has made a wider variety of patterns for trees and shrubs, and textures of grass and ground.  It certainly looks more like it could be an actual view, but I don’t know whether it is.  I like how the hills fade to black against the sky.
        These pieces please me so much.  I love finding all their little details, and I love their overall impression of busyness.  I shared something with a similar concept in Rudolph’s Winnipeg Neighborhood years ago, so obviously these stylized collections of buildings are something that appeals to me.   It really makes me want to depict my town this way, although reflection leads me to the unfortunate conclusion that neither my town nor my own printmaking style would be very conducive to it.  So for now I’ll just continue to enjoy the work of others.

[Pictures: Corcaigh, linocut by Anita Laurence, 2009;
Wangajazzaratta, linocut by Laurence;
Holy Trinity, linocut by Laurence, c 2009;
Mt. Stuart, linocut by Laurence, c 2009-2016 (All images from anitalaurence.com).]

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