September 16, 2022

Colville's Mix-and-Match

         Somewhat to my surprise I realize that I had never done a post on the block prints of Amanda Colville (U.K.).  This is a surprise because Colville’s work is one of the models I show students in my classes to demonstrate the Mix and Match project.  You can read back about the project, and see some student work here (or some of my own mix-and-match prints here), but today I want to (finally) share some of Colville’s work that helps inspire the project.
        The first example is quite simple, made with two blocks, a flower and a bee.  The complexity comes in how those two blocks are combined and multipled.  Three colors of ink (grey, blue, and black), and nine impressions build up the larger piece.
        You can see some more about the process by looking at the individual linoleum blocks and a variety of ways they've been combined.  One set of leaves, two quite similar flowers, and three birds are printed in all sorts of different combinations.  (You can see in these pieces that Colville’s work often has a very folk art look.)  In these examples there is no overlapping, as opposed to the bees, which are squished together on top of each other.  As I mentioned in my post on the project, it seems to be much easier for kids to think about setting all their blocks next to each other without overlapping, and it’s true that the bee example looks much more sophisticated and complex than the simple bird examples.
        Finally I include the example that I find most interesting of all, in which Colville has deconstructed and then reconstructed an architectural scene.  Instead of making a single block print of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, Colville has chosen three of its distinctive architectural features to carve as separate blocks.  A tower and the pediment from the West Front, as well as the iconic dome are then recombined “to form an overall impression.”  Again, Colville has experimented with different arrangements of these elements, and in addition to overlapping and repeating elements as we’ve seen in the examples above, this time Colville has added yet another variable: partial printing.  Any given block can be printed in its entirety as part of the piece, or just inked and printed in sections.  I love Colville’s creativity in playing with her elements.
        Amanda Colville does make lots of single complete block prints (I featured one here), and I do like many of them very much.  It’s this mix-and-match approach, however, that really caught my attention and makes me keep returning to her work as an example for my students.
        (By the way, if you’re interested in joining me in person for a relief block printmaking class this fall, check out the Needham Community Education flier for details.)

[Pictures: Bees, lino print by Amanda Colville, 2012;

St Paul’s, lino prints by Colville, 2012;

New Prints, lino prints by Colville, 2011 (All images from the artist’s blog Mangle Prints).]

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