Titel: The Point of the Graver
Autor/en: Wesley W. Bates
April 1994 - kartoniert - 82 Seiten
This book offers a wonderful opportunity to explore the growth of an artist through both his comments and his accomplishments. Equally important is the opportunity to enjoy the robust humour and vitality of the engravings of Wesley W. Bates.'
Wesley W. Bates was born in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. One of Canada's best-known wood engravers, Bates has ventured into book illustration (W. O. Mitchell's The Black Bonspiel of Willie MacCrimmon), commercial art (the voyageur motif for Upper Canada Brewery), letterpress publishing (through his West Meadow Press) and acoustic country -- played, naturally, on a bouzouki. A collection of his engravings, The Point of the Graver, was published to great acclaim in 1994. He now maintains his studio, which is open to the public, in a nineteenth-century storefront on the Main Street of Clifford, Ontario.
'The Point of the Graver, the first book-bound collection of Hamilton-based Wesley Bates' wood engravings, confirms the prosperity of his imagination and the exactitude of his workmanship.' Quill & Quire 'Wesley Bates' sensitivity to the human figure and face, his love of music, his fascination with books and printing -- all are portrayed in the sequence of eighty-two engravings and their commentary. In addition, his skill as a book illustrator is apparent in the selection of engravings which he has chosen from his publications and which illustrates, as Will Rueter points out, 'that the medium of the traditional wood engraving -- even through offset reproduction -- still has an important function in contemporary books.' ... Bates 'captures the beauty and character of a landscape that is as unforgettable as it is unmistakably Canadian.' Canadian Notes & Queries 'A carefully squared block of highly polished endgrain boxwood or maple and a few sharpened gravers are insignificant in themselves. But in the hands of an artist like Wesley Bates these seemingly inflexible, demanding materials can create form, fluidity, mood, depth: an infinite world of light and shadow, monochrome and colour.' -- William Rueter When an artist writes about his own work the reader, in most cases, would do well to pay attention. That is indeed the case with The Point of the Graver by Wesley Bates where the author/engraver presents a selection of his engravings, each accompanied by a facing page text of commentary.Born in Whitehorse, Yukon, in 1952, Wesley Bates studied fine art at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, where he majored in painting and printmaking. In 1980, when his wife gave him a full set of gravers, he began his career as a wood engraver. Since then he has exhibited in galleries in Dundas, Grimsby, Hamilton, St. Catherines and Toronto, has had several commissioned works, and has illustrated several books, some of which are listed in biographical postscript. In 1984 he launched his own West Meadow Press which gives him complete control over the integration of image and text in the publication. Some of the works produced by the press are a collection of poems by Jane Berland, George Goodwin's A Contemporary Fable, Farrell M. Boyce's Down by the Bay, William Cowper's Epitaph on a Hare, a Dorset ballad, The Brisk Young Butcher, and James Reaney's To the Avon River above Stratford, Canada. (This list left me wishing that a complete list of the press's production had been included in the work under review.) Readers of the Devil's Artisan will recollect his print entitled Fall which appeared on the cover of the Fall 1992 edition of this journal.The 82 numbered and dated engravings which constitute the body of The Point of the Graver are arranged chronologically. Taken together they reveal the growth of an artist from impressive, early efforts to accomplished works which show a mastery of the techniques of wood engraving. 'You have to learn to draw with light' is a telling quote from Wesley Bates given in the Introduction. The alert reader has the opportunity to see Wesley Bates learning to draw with light. When commenting on number 5 'Song', 1980 Bates, in retrospect, observes. 'I have always been unhappy with this print because I felt that I failed to push it far enough. The one thing you get free with wood engraving is black, and here the black is dominant. Experience has taught me that it is very important to control the black and to use white to strike a balance. The black should look purposeful, not overpowering.' Bates' growing control of the black appears by contrasting number 17 'Minstrels', 1983 with the earlier work. Here he 'tried to build the figures without line, using the light source to define them,' and he has accomplished a far better definition of the images. His comments on other engravings offer further insights into his growth as an engraver. In number 16 'The cross-hatching was an experiment to test my control of the engraving tool and of the form'. The technique of rubbing chalk into the engraved lines to see how the engraving was developing was employed in number 49 and it enabled him to work with finer lines than before. Comparing and contrasting the engravings which cover fourteen years of his work the reader can trace Bates' growing mastery of the techniques of wood engraving.Conveying the visual impact of Bates' style in print constitutes a real challenge. In 67, Bates comments that he has developed the approach of doing the 'tricky parts' first which in this case he identifies as the runner's head and arms, the horse, and the driver. His human forms frequently are stylized. Often lively, the figures range from the rough, bumptious vitality of the characters of the ballads to the thin, angular jogger dressed all in black. Graced with a goatee and long slender hands, the jogger makes a wonderful caricature of the mysterious stranger for this modern version of the Faust legend. The themes of music (including ballads, minstrels and jazz), and rural, often idyllic, pastoral settings recur throughout the images of this book. The singers and musicians in Bates' own words create 'an impression of liveliness and movement and add a romantic element to the image'. The calm repose of his rural settings, best typified by the foldout of the Avon river (number 71), forms a marked contrast to the lively human figures of his other prints.Will Rueter's introduction offers many insights which come from the valuable perspective of one artist viewing another's work. The Porcupine's Quill has done a masterful job in producing this book. The quality of the engravings is impressive. When the reproductions are compared to a selection of the original prints, the only immediately discernible differences can be attributed to the differences of paper. This book offers a wonderful opportunity to explore the growth of an artist through both his comments and his accomplishments. Equally important is the opportunity to enjoy the robust humour and vitality of the engravings of Wesley W. Bates. -- Gayle Garlock Devil's Artisan