The CAG presented the first exhibition in North America devoted entirely to the vignettes of British wood engraver, artist and naturalist Thomas Bewick. Born in Cherryburn, near Mickley, Northumberland in 1753, Bewick worked in Newcastle until his death in 1828. Clearly influenced by his childhood on a small farm on the banks of the river Tyne, Bewick’s love of the countryside is reflected in his detailed woodcuts of animals, birds and rural scenes. Amongst his most ambitious projects were illustrations for General History of Quadrupeds (1790) and History of British Birds (two volumes, 1797 and 1804), both of which also included a great number of vignettes. Bewick referred to these as ‘tale-pieces’. Intended as illustrations of “some truth or point of some moral” they provide an invaluable insight into social history while also demonstrating the artist’s imagination and wit. As such these narrative works provided an interesting counterpoint to the work of many internationally established artists in Vancouver, engaging in image making which critically examines and reflects on the city and conditions which surround them. The presentation of historical work is intended to challenge our understanding of what a contemporary art space should show and as such reinforces the notion that everything was once contemporary, retaining meaning for future generations, just as much as what is contemporary now will inevitably become historical.
This limited edition woodblock print is printed on a hand press by Iain Bain from the original Thomas Bewick woodblocks of the three subjects, the Bulldog was engraved for the 1790 edition of the Quadrupeds; the Lesser Redpole, and the tail-piece of the man relieving himself beside a fragment of ruined wall were made for the first 1797 volume of the British Birds.
Three engravings by Thomas Bewick, Woodblock print, Edition of 75, (2009), sold in a hinged mount, unframed.MORE