Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Tom Lubbock Collages at Victoria Miro

Review by Adrian Searle
"Monty Python-era Terry Gilliam cartoon animations are in there somewhere, and Lubbock also much admires Thomas Bewick, William Blake's contemporary, and has written passionately about Bewick's tiny woodblock vignettes, with their earthy humour and their frightening abjections – the flavour of which got into his own work. Lubbock the collagist and critic is that rare, accessible – and perhaps very English – mix of the genial and the dangerous."
The Guardian, here.

Gallery website with images and info here.

Victoria Miro
16 Wharf Road
London N1 7RW
phone + 44 (0)20 7549 0422
fax + 44 (0)20 7251 5596
Open Tuesday to Saturday
10am to 6pm, admission free
Underground Old Street / Angel

Monday, 29 November 2010

"Miniature masterpieces are giving art lovers a micro-sized glimpse of the past. "

What's on: Thomas Bewick: Tale-pieces. Review of the show at Abbot Hall by By Adrian Mullen, Arts correspondent of The Westmorland Gazette.

Read his review here.

Jeanette Edgar, communications director for Lakeland Arts Trust: “I still find Bewick’s work intriguing, a real mixture of craft, illustration and a wicked observation on mankind.”

Thomas Bewick: Tale-pieces is at Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal from November 12 until December 18.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Open now in Kendal

Tale-pieces, the popular exhibition organised by the Ikon Galllery, is now open at Abbot Hall Art Gallery
Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 5AL
11 Nov- 18 December

At the same venue from 1 November - 18 December there is an exhibition "Wood Engraving in the North: The Continuing Tradition" (in the coffee shop).
Full information here.

This display of works by members of the Society of Wood Engravers runs concurrently with the exhibition of Thomas Bewick’s engravings in the main Gallery, demonstrating the continuity of this technique in the North and exploring the extraordinary versatility of the medium.

Wood Engraving Demonstrations:
Free Event - Museum Lakeland Life & Industry
Wednesday 17 November, 11am - 2pm
Paul Kershaw, a member of the Society of Wood Engravers and Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, will be demonstrating wood engraving techniques and using the Museum’s printing press to print one of his blocks. He will also be available to explain some of the tools and processes involved in wood engraving.

Wednesday 24 November, 11am - 2pm
Edinburgh-based artist and educator Jonathan Gibbs is a member of the Society of Wood Engravers. He will be demonstrating wood engraving techniques and will be available to answer questions about his practice. Engravings by Jonathan Gibbs are on display in the Coffee Shop.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Words and Music

BBC Radio 3's Words and Music, November 7th 2010

"This edition of Words & Music was recorded in front of an audience as part of Radio 3’s Free Thinking 2010. Reflecting the festival’s theme of The Pursuit of Happiness, “celebration” is the subject of tonight’s programme. And, just as the artistic line up largely celebrates the finest the Northeast has to offer, so the texts and music often celebrate the Northeast’s writers, landscape, and heroes."

Performers included Kathryn Tickell, Donald McBride and Zita Frith.
Music from Smetana, Tallis, Mendelssohn, Grieg, Per Nørgård, Purcell, Brendan Murphy and traditional sources.
Texts form Swinburne, Wordsworth, Kirkup, Bunting and Bewick.

Programme available here to UK listeners until Sunday 14th November 2010.

“In these rounds I had the opportunity of seeing the kindness and hospitality of the People – the countenances of all, both high & low, beamed with chearfulness, and this was heightened every where, by the music of old Tunes from the well-known exhilarating wild notes of the Northumberland pipes amidst the buz occasioned by various foulploughs.”
Memoir, Chapter 6.

Bewick in Ithaca

End Grain: A History of Wood Engraving
Exhibition at Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University.
Thomas Bewick's wood engraving is the starting point for this historical survey from the eighteenth century to the present day.
Details on the museum website here.
A review article by the Cornell Daily Sun here.

The exhibition runs from November 6 2010–January 9 2011.

Illustrated: Winslow Homer, American, 1836–1910,  Snap-the-Whip, 1873, Wood engraving on newsprint .

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Bewick's Pipe Tunes

Just published
Bewick's Pipe Tunes: A collection of tunes for Northumbrian smallpipes and other melody instruments. Selected from the manuscripts of Robert Bewick, Gateshead. Selected and edited by Matt Seattle.
£7 + £1.50 p+p (UK) from the Northumbrian Pipers' Society, Julia Say, Lynemouth, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 5XQ

Send an email to
Further details here.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Last Chance to See Tale-pieces in Preston.

"Thomas Bewick: Tale-pieces" ends 16th October at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston.
Full details here.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Varieties of Oxen by George Garrard.

Newcastle University Special Collections Treasure of the Month - October 2010

A Description of the different Varieties of Oxen, common in the British Isles; Embellished with Engravings; being an accompaniment To a Set of Models of the Improved Breeds of Cattle, executed by George Garrard, Upon an exact Scale from Nature, Under the patronage of the Board of Agriculture
(London: J. Smeeton, 1800)

Read all about George Garrard's volume here.

“I objected to put lumps of fat here and there where I could not see it, at least not in so exaggerated a way as on the painting before me … Many of the animals were, during this rage for fat cattle, fed up to as great a weight and bulk as it was possible for feeding to make them; but this was not enough; they were to be figured monstrously fat before the owners of them could be pleased”.
Bewick, T. A Memoir of Thomas Bewick
(Newcastle-on-Tyne: Printed by Robert Ward; London: Longman, Green, Longman and Roberts, 1862), p.184.

Illustration: A Fat Teeswater Ox.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Romantic Moderns

 Guardian reviewer Kathryn Hughes recently enthused over the new book by Alexandra Harris, "Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper".
"It would be impossible to over-emphasise what a clever book Romantic Moderns is." The Guardian, Saturday 25 September 2010.

According to Hughes the book deals with a particular form of English twentieth century culture:
"For while high modernism hung out in smoky jazz bars, romantic modernism tended to pile on the jumpers and sit round the kitchen table, scoffing a delicious stew composed of ingredients foraged from the hedgerows. When it took to the roads it did so with a well-thumbed Victorian gazetteer in the glove compartment or perhaps an edition of Gilbert White's Selborne or Thomas Bewick's British Birds."

The book has been nominated for the Guardian First Book Award.

Read the review here.
Full details of the book here.
Alexandra Harris's website has some extracts available.

The Chairman’s Report 2009-2010

The Bewick Society’s 22nd Annual General Meeting
Saturday 25th September 2010
The Chairman’s Report 2009-2010

Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, again, it is my pleasure to report on the activities of the Bewick Society. It has been a busy year, with a full range of activities, some events now customary others more experimental, as well as less visible work on important projects.

The most ambitious event, organised in partnership with the University of Newcastle, was a conference entitled ‘Illustrating Fables: Bewick and Beyond’ on Friday 26th February. Stimulating contributions from an international panel of lecturers — Brian Alderson, Graham Williams, Andrea Immel, John Vernon Lord, and our own Peter Osborne and Peter Quinn — were interwoven with much discussion on a neglected area of study. It is intended that publication will follow. The Society is particularly indebted to Peter Osborne, of our Committee, and to Dr Matthew Grenby, of the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University, who together shaped and delivered a very worthwhile day.

Our popular Bewick Enthusiasms meetings are a forum for unusual snippets of Bewickiana and also a proving ground for developing ideas. The latter was the case with Anne French’s lecture on 1st April; but she was not fooling when she included Lapland in her fascinating study of ‘Thomas Bewick, Lapland and the Grand Tour ’. Bewick’s own contribution, the copperplate illustrations to Matthew Consett’s T our through Sweden, Swedish Lapland Finland and Denmark (1789) made their first appearance before the Society as a ten-minute Enthusiasm almost a decade ago.

The Bewick Enthusiasms meeting itself, held on 24th April, produced a crop of surprises including Peter Osborne’s sampling of an untapped source of Bewick material in local newspapers, and his linking of Bewick with Vincent Van Gogh.  June Holmes discussed Bewick’s influence on the Italian naturalist Paolo Savi. As before we hope that some subjects will lend themselves to fuller study.

The summer outing, again organised and led by David Gardner-Medwin, traced the (footsteps of Thomas Bewick to north Yorkshire where, at Wycliffe Hall, for two .months in 1791 he recorded bird specimens in the collection of the then late •Marmaduke Tunstall (1743-90) — for whom, two years earlier, Bewick had engraved The Chillingham Bull. The results of his visit contributed to the production of his History of British Birds (1797and 1804) which many regard as the highpoint of Bewick’s combined career as engraver, artist and author.

Thomas Bewick’s 257th Birthday was celebrated at Cherryburn on 15th August with the usual ‘Conversation’ including contributions from David Gray on Thornton’s Family Herbal, 1810, with illustrations by ‘Bewick’, (in reality by the apprentices Isaac Nicholson, John Bewick [nephew] and Edward Willis, supervised by TB); from David Gardner-Medwin on documents relating to Bewick forbears around Kirkheaton; and from Peter Quinn on possible links between Bewick’s work and Dutch genre painting. Lots of visitors joined the conversation, and helped with the cake afterwards.

We have had a share of sadder moments, too. Dilys Harding, who died of cancer on 16th April, served a full term as our highly efficient and delightful Secretary. She also provided a vital link with the City Library and the riches of the Pease Collection, hosting committee meetings and full society events including a memorable evening combining Bewick’s musical connections with actual music from members of the Avison Society. The success of the rebuilt City Library (opened last November), especially in the new display and arrangement of the Bewick material in the Pease Collection, owes much to Dilys’s planning just prior to her retirement.

We are fortunate that the link with the Library has been kept by recruiting to the Committee, Dilys’s friend and successor as Head of Heritage, Kath Cassidy. And,when our excellent Meetings Secretary, Felicity Stimpson, moved with her husband, (the recently retired Professor of French at Newcastle University) to the south coast, Kath agreed to take over her responsibility, too. Through Kath’s help, the Library has accommodated many of our Committee meetings and indeed last year’s Annual General Meeting — in the new Bewick Hall, of course!

In passing on the Chairmanship of the Society after a second term, as the Constitution requires, I wish to conclude my report with a tribute to the members of your Committee. I am acutely aware that business on other fronts in recent years, has made me more of a titular head than I would have wished. The reason that this has not been, I hope, too obvious is because of the dedication and hard work of my colleagues on the Committee. I have been extremely lucky to have had such an excellent team. Much of what they do is not in the limelight yet it is vital to the Society’s progress.

David Gardner-Medwin and Peter Osborne have done so much for the Society in various ways that it is difficult to particularise; but one lesser-known project with which both have involved is towards the establishment of a database of Bewick’s vignettes. The potential for such a resource is great and we will be hearing more soon.

The Society’s publications have been crucial to its development. Cherryburn Times, under its editor David Gray, has set a standard of scholarship and presentation which continues to attract a wide range of writers to a natural haven for the safe landing of their Bewick research. Taken together the editions form a mighty resource; and we are discussing whether selective re-publication might be a future aim.

Just as important has been the Members Newsletter, invented and produced by June Holmes, our Membership Secretary, who keeps a growing membership in touch in the most dedicated and friendly way. Her efforts have resulted in gifts, information, visits, and a closer network of admirers of Bewick - now across several continents.

Our growing membership gives us a healthy bank balance. Our Treasurer, Peter Quinn, has been masterly in managing subscriptions and stewarding funding. The Society has managed from what is still a modest annual subscription to cover its printing and administrative costs, to provide publicity materials, to pay for venues and events expenses, and still have a surplus which can be allocated to supporting publications (We are still looking forward to the publication of Nigel Tattersfield’s study of The Illustrated Work 0f Thomas Bewick) or acquisitions or even minor building works.

One of the stated aims of the Society is ‘to support the National Trust in the care of Bewick’s birthplace at Cherryburn’. I believe the Society has a constructive and supportive relationship with Cherryburn, and I know that a good measure of that is owing to Stewart Thirkell, of both the National Trust and your Committee.

I wish my successor good luck in taking on the new responsibilities. If the support from the Committee is even half as good as it has been for me — and I am sure it will be  - the Chairman will be fortunate indeed. I thank the members for their continued support. I believe I am right in reporting that the Bewick Society is in good heart, confident of achievements, yet always looking to improve the fulfilment of its purpose: the promotion of understanding of Thomas Bewick’s extraordinary achievements and influence. As I have had the honour of saying on other occasions, that, with your help, is what we will continue to do. Thank you all very much.

Hugh Dixon, September 2010

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Heritage Open Days

Thursday 9th - Sunday 12th September

As part of Tyne and Wear Heritage Open Days 2010, from Thursday 9th to Sunday 12th September, you can visit and take part in over 200 buildings and activities – all for free!

Details on their website, click here.

Highlights with some connection to the life and times of Thomas Bewick include Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne, Natural History Society of Northumbria (Friday 10/09/2010 1000-1600 just turn up), Parish Church of St Andrew, Tableaux in an 18th Century Town House.

"In Gateshead interesting events such as: a quiz on ‘How Well Do You Know Gateshead?’, a walk around ‘Addison, Hedgefield and Stella’ and a talk on ‘How to Fix a Bridge in Four Minutes’ are taking place, along with buildings such as: The Banqueting House at Gibside, Winlaton Forge and HMS Calliope all opening their doors.

In Newcastle buildings such as: Jesmond Dene Real Tennis Club, St George’s Church in Jesmond and 733 Squadron Air Cadets at Kingston Park will be open, as well as events such as: ‘Children at War! in the City Library, a ‘Greasepaint and Celluloid’ walk around Newcastle and a ‘Tunnels, Tall Tales and a Toffee Factory’ walk in the Ouseburn taking place."

Download their brochure and check their website for updates and ammendments.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Bookplates in Delaware

From UDaily the website of the University of Delaware.

"The University of Delaware Library announces the availability of a new digital collection, the William Augustus Brewer Bookplate Collection. An enlarged version of each bookplate, as well as the Rev. Brewer's handwritten notes and catalog numbers, can be viewed by clicking on “Detailed View” below the image for each bookplate.
... The collection is available online.
Brewer was an avid bookplate collector. His wife, Augusta LaMotte Brewer, bequeathed his collection to the University of Delaware Library after her husband's death.
The William Augustus Brewer Bookplate Collection comprises 12,680 printed bookplates dating mainly from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
The collection includes bookplates from the libraries of John Carter Brown, Lewis Carroll, Samuel L. Clemens, Calvin Coolidge, Charles Dickens, Walt Disney, Edward Gibbon, Alexander Hamilton, Harry Houdini, Samuel Pepys, Howard Pyle, Paul Revere, Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Alfred Stieglitz and William Butler Yeats, as well as many others.

The designers of the bookplates include, such well-known artists as Thomas Bewick, Edward Burne-Jones, Kate Greenaway, William Hogarth, Howard Pyle, Rudolf Ruzicka and James A. M. Whistler."

Click here to read the full article.

There appear to be 28 examples attributed to Thomas Bewick in the collection.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Reprint in the USA

"The Private Library" blog recently enthused over Bewick's vignettes.

"Of course, many other artists have created vignettes for books, but few have captured as well as Bewick the human condition in such a small space. Because original copies of Bewick's Quadrupeds and British Birds are quite expensive in anything approaching Fine condition, most book collectors will likely have to settle for a reprint (such as that depicted ...). "

You can find the full text here.

The reprint they have in mind is from the University of Chicago Press.

"A General History of Quadrupeds, The Figures Engraved on Wood With a Foreword by Yann Martel" published in June 2009.

Full details here.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Ayant ainsi Be[r]wick sur mes genoux

Jane Eyre in French.

Found on the "Portraits de Lecteurs" blog.

Ayant ainsi Be[r]wick sur mes genoux, j'étais heureuse, du moins heureuse à ma manière ; je ne craignais qu'une interruption, et elle ne tarda pas à arriver. La porte de la salle à manger fut vivement ouverte.

Charlotte Brönte, Jane Eyre, Chap. I, trad. de Mme Lesbazeilles Souvestre, édition Ebook libres et gratuits.
Texte en anglais ici ou ici.
The Blog points out in a discrete note that it should read "Thomas Bewick (et non Berwick)."

" A History of British Birds, vol. II, History and Description of Water Birds, Memorial Edition, London, 1885, que l'on peut feuilleter ici."

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Lasting Impressions



Lasting Impressions by Colin See-Paynton, Shandy Hall Gallery, Coxwold, until August 21

From "The Press":

"Lasting Impressions, a selection of wood engravings by Colin See-Paynton, will be on show at Shandy Hall Gallery, Coxwold, until August 21. The exhibition ties in with the publication of his latest book, Of A Feather, in a limited edition of only 750, with copies signed by the artist for sale at £195 at the gallery. Widely regarded as the leading exponent of wood engraving in Britain, See-Paynton is a Fellow of the Royal Cambrian Academy, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers and a member of the Society of Wood Engravers." Article by Charles Hutchinson, found here.

"David Alston, arts director of Arts Council Wales, is equally fulsome in his praise. “An Admiration… that should be the collective noun for gallery visitors to the Of A Feather exhibition, for this has been an extraordinary enterprise,” he says.
“The work has drawn on many years of patient and exultant observation, the accumulation of knowledge that allows the imagination to be accurate in the mind’s eye. “Not since Thomas Bewick (1753-1828) have both literary and pictorial aspects been found conjoined in the one talent as in this project, where Colin See-Paynton has both written about and made the plates for an illustrated lexicon of the collective nouns for birds.”"

You can read more about the gallery, the exhibition and Shandy Hall here.

Coxwold is 4 miles off the A19 between York & Thirsk. Near to Kilburn, the White Horse, and 8 miles from Helmsley.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

The Bindman Talks 2010 at Dove Cottage

At the Wordsworth Trust, Dove Cottage: the Bindman Talks 2010

Professor Ian Rogerson, "Thomas Bewick and his influence on visual communication."Saturday 7 August, 4.30pm

"Professor Ian Rogerson is former Librarian of Manchester Metropolitan University, and is currently Research Fellow at the John Rylands Institute. He has written extensively on wood engraving. He will look at how Thomas Bewick and his pupils influenced nineteenth-century illustration, and how Bewick's 'white-line' largely inspired the twentieth-century wood engraving revival."

The Bindman Talks provide a general introduction to some of the authors and works in the Wordsworth Trust's collection. Other talks in the series are listed here.

"The sixth Bindman series of talks has a special focus on the Lake District as seen through the eyes of its early visitors and artists, and the impact that man had on the area in the nineteenth century. There will also be informal introductory sessions for those new to Romanticism, and a special evening event in Dove Cottage for families."

The Bindman Talks are free but do require booking as places are limited. Click here for details on the Dove Cottage website.
To reserve a place, please complete the Dove Cottage Contact Form indicating which talk you wish to attend, or telephone: 015394 35544.

Dove Cottage, the Wordsworth Museum and Art Gallery is located on the A591, the main Kendal - Keswick road through the central Lake District.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


An interesting study has been published online in the journal "Perception."
Entitled "Does left – right orientation matter in the perceived expressiveness of pictures? A study of Bewick’s animals (1753 – 1828)" researchers used images from Bewick's Quadrupeds to test the assertion, shared by Bewick himself, that the orientation of an image makes a difference to the way in which it is perceived.

You can find the Abstract and links to the full text by clicking here.
To read the full text you need a subscription, as detailed here.

The researchers: Kate M Bennett, Richard Latto, Marco Bertamini, Ivana Bianchi, Sarah Minshull.

The paper was received 27 November 2009, in revised form 25 April 2010; published online 28 June 2010

Abstract. Strong claims have been made about the importance of orientation in visual art. Although there have been a few studies whether left or right oriented pictures are more aesthetically pleasing, there have been no empirical studies whether the meaning and expressiveness of pictures depend on orientation. Thomas Bewick (1753 – 1828) made explicit decisions about whether the main protagonist in his pictures should face left or right and did so to express particular meaning. In three experiments we examined whether orientation changes the expressiveness of an image. In experiment 1 participants viewed eight of Bewick’s animal wood engravings facing either in their original orientation or reversed, in a between-subjects design. They rated each print on ten characteristics, for example: docile – wild, clumsy – agile, and weak – strong. The original received more extreme ratings, across characteristics, than the reversal. Experiment 2 confirmed this result with participants from Italy. In experiment 3, using a within-subjects design, participants viewed ten wood engravings of dogs and rated them on characteristics specifically identified by Bewick. Again, the ratings of the original orientation were more extreme. Thus, in agreement with Bewick, we conclude that orientation affects expressiveness.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Bewick in Preston.

Last year's popular exhibition Thomas Bewick: Tale-pieces organised by the Ikon Gallery is on tour.
You can see it at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery from 10 July – 16 October 2010.
More details available on their website.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

"Dare to be free"

You can read an account of the recent unveiling of the Thomas Spence plaque on the blog "Listen Up North".

"A man who was prepared to go to prison for his principles of grass roots freedom, community and democracy for the human rights of men and women all over the world.  It was Spence who coined the phrase ‘The Rights of Man’ and chalked it on a cave wall at Marsden Grotto. Thank goodness for another free spirit, poet Keith Armstrong, and his friends who formed the Thomas Spence Trust and campaigned for Spence’s recognition thereby ensuring that this man’s great endeavours were not forgotten."

The blog, written by Northumberland-based writer Rachel Cochrane,  can be found by clicking here.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Thomas Bewick and A Shropshire Squire

In his Memoir, Thomas Bewick complimented the efforts of the ‘gentleman amateurs’ from Shropshire, namely John Freeman Milward Dovaston (1782-1854) and John Clavering Wood. Much is known about Dovaston, but J.C. Wood has largely remained a mystery – up until now.

The publication in June 2010 of A Shropshire Squire: Letters & Diary (1812-1825) of John Clavering Wood, Esquire, Marche Hall near Shrewsbury, not only offers a useful snapshot of the broad interests of a country gentleman of the period, but includes Thomas Bewick’s letter of 6 June 1825 to Wood, as well as Dovaston’s transcription of Bewick’s letter of 18 November 1823.

The book also succeeds in identifying a mystery profile silhouette which was ordered by Dovaston. The silhouette proved to be of Squire Wood.

Wood’s diary, covering 1819-1823, reveals the owner of the 350-acre Marche estate as a man with a strong curiosity about the natural world, as well as having an enthusiasm for ornithology, European travel, tree-planting, experimenting with horticultural techniques and cider-making, solving family legal problems, investing in locally-mined feldspar for use in china-making, and keeping bookshelves well stocked with volumes on natural history, philosophy and poetry.

The 200-page A Shropshire Squire includes illustrations, biographical notes, endnotes and a detailed index. It is available from Booka Bookshop, Oswestry ( or phone: 01691 662 244) and from the Shropshire Family History Society . Cost £9.99 + p&p. 
For more information, visit
NEW BOOK: A Shropshire Squire: Letters & Diary (1812-1825) of John Clavering Wood, Esquire, Marche Hall near Shrewsbury. Edited by Gerard Benjamin & Gloria Grant. Published by Gerard Benjamin, Brisbane, 2010.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Contemporary Book Art

Gallery North, Artists' Book Fair, 26th June 2010 from 11am - 5pm.

Gallery North presents national and international Artist's Book Makers to the region to sell and promote their work directly to the public. An accompanying series of drop in workshops and demonstrations will take place on the day.

12 - 1.30pm 24 Minute Comic with Illustrator & Comic Artist Leonie O'Moore
2pm - 4pm Print your own Artist's Book with established Community Artist Kay Henderson.
All places are free, but must be booked.  Contact
Image: Building Blocks Book, Sumi Perera.
See Gallery North Website


Tuesday, 1 June 2010


Thomas Spence, philosopher friend of Thomas Bewick, is to be honoured with a plaque at Broad Garth on the Quayside, Newcastle. The site chosen is close to the spot where Bewick and Spence famously came to blows.
This important event is to be marked by a "Mini-fest"organised by the Thomas Spence Trust.



2.30pm. Broad Garth, Quayside. The unveiling of the Thomas Spence plaque at Broad Garth, Quayside, Newcastle, by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, with a short speech by Dr Keith Armstrong, Chair of The Thomas Spence Trust, and Armstrong’s ‘Folk Song for Thomas Spence’ performed by Gary Miller, singer-songwriter of North East band ‘The Whisky Priests’.
2.45pm. Informal reception with talks, readings from Spence and poems and songs in his honour in the Red House, Sandhill, Quayside.
(Anyone not already invited to the unveiling and the reception and wishing to attend should contact Dr Keith Armstrong on 0191 2529531).

7pm Literary & Philosophical Society Library, Westgate Road, Newcastle.  The Workers’ Educational Association and The Thomas Spence Trust present short talks on Spence by Professors Joan Beal (University of Sheffield), Malcom Chase (University of Leeds) and Alastair Bonnett (University of Newcastle), with readings from Spence by Dr Keith Armstrong.


Marsden Grotto, Coast Road, South Shields. A TOAST FOR TOM. Drinks, poems and songs in Spence’s honour at the Grotto where Spence visited ‘Blaster Jack’ and first coined the phrase ‘The Rights of Man’ by chalking on a cave wall.


THE HIVE OF LIBERTY: The Life and Work of Thomas Spence.
Talk by Dr Keith Armstrong, Chair of The Thomas Spence Trust.


Further information from: Dr Keith Armstrong, The Thomas Spence Trust, 93 Woodburn Square, Whitley Lodge, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear NE26 3JD. Tel. 0191 2529531.
or click here to visit the Thomas Spence Trust's website.

Illustration: frontispiece, attributed to Thomas Bewick from " A SUPPLEMENT TO THE HISTORY OF ROBINSON CRUSOE, BEING THE HISTORY OF CRUSONIA" by Thomas Spence, 1782

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Bewick in Delaware

Works by Thomas Bewick feature in the exhibition The Pastoral Vision—British Prints, 1800 – Present.

"The Pastoral Vision—British Prints, 1800 – Present, featuring more than 20 lithographs, etchings, and woodcuts, on view May 15, 2010 – August 15, 2010. This exhibition explores British printmaking from the 19th century to the present, focusing on landscapes by artists such as James McNeil Whistler, Edward Lear, and Rachel Whiteread. Drawn entirely from the Museum’s permanent collection, with many pieces rarely on view, the selection will provide insights into the changing nature of prints and Britain’s pastoral beauty.

At the end of the 18th century, British land was celebrated for its agricultural production. Thomas Bewick and others recorded the flora and fauna that fostered this natural wealth. In the early 1800s, the followers of the Romantic poet and artist William Blake construed instead the biblical associations of the landscape—the “constant realization of Heaven on earth,” as Edward Calvert’s work was described."

The Delaware Art Museum is at 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington, DE 19806.
It is open Wednesday to Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and Sunday noon – 4:00 p.m.

More details here Delaware Art Museum website.

Illustration above: Old Westminster Bridge, 1859
James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
Etching on paper, 3 x 8 inches
Gift of Dr. Charles Lee Reese, 1940

Thursday, 13 May 2010

A History of British Birds


A History of British Birds is back in print. The Folio Society has published a two volume edition based on the 1848 edition.

From the Folio Society Website:

"This edition is quarter-bound in blue leather with traditional raised bands on the spine and hand-marbled paper sides, modelled after fine 18th-century bindings. The type has been reset using the 1826 edition which was the final edition printed during Bewick’s lifetime and revised by him in person."

"Reproducing the engravings called for a highly skilled and technical approach. The Folio Society consulted Iain Bain, printing historian and expert on Bewick, who recommended using the 1848 edition which he considers the best edition ever printed from the original wood blocks. Each engraving was scanned by a specialist art reprographer. Normally engravings are printed black only, but because of the tonal range of Bewick’s images, the illustrations in this edition have been printed in duotone to allow the full range of detail and shading to be seen. We believe that this is the finest reproduction yet produced."

You can read more about the edition on the Folio Society Website, click here. 

Friday, 30 April 2010

Bewick's Mambo in Kansas

Another prize for Bewick's Mambo (see below).

Bewicks Mambo [extract] from no on Vimeo.

The short film by Peter Snowdon has one the CinemaJAZZ award for best short film with a jazz connection at the Kansas City Film Festival.
Details here.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Culture Shock

Joan Lambert has recorded a video for the Culture Shock website in which she relates her enthusiasm for the work of Thomas Bewick.

"Discovering Bewick.
Video Duration: 3:43 minutes


Joan's life long love of books leads her to a close up encounter with the woodcuts of Thomas Bewick. By Joan Lambert
This story was inspired by the Thomas Bewick collections at the Laing Art Gallery."

Click here to go to the Culture Shock site.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Bewick's Mambo

Bewick's Mambo is the title of a short film by Peter Snowdon of Gourna Films. Made over four nights in 2008, the action is set in the Lit and Phil library with Bewick's bust and his engravings playing a central role.

The film won a prize last year as "Best short fiction on an ecological theme, Malescorto International Short Film Festival, Italy, 2009."

You can read an account by the filmmaker on their website by clicking here.
You can watch the opening of the film here.
There is also a
behind-the-scenes photo gallery.
Bewick's Mambo, 2008, 9 minutes, Super 16/Digibeta, 1:185, Dolby SR.
A Gourna Films production in association with the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle Upon Tyne. Written, produced and directed by Peter Snowdon.
Late one night, Adam and Eve are alone in the library, when suddenly, the plants and animals pictured in the books around them start to come alive…Starring Scali Delpeyrat, Lou Wenzel and James Harris.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

David Gentleman

The artist David Gentleman has an exhibtion currently in London. He featured in a Guardian profile published on Saturday 17th April.

Gentleman was influenced by the art of Thomas Bewick in the early part of his career.

"Gentleman's father, a Scotsman, had started out as a painter before heading to Hertford in 1930, the year of David's birth, to work on publicity for corporate clients such as Shell. As a result, international modernism – clean planes, collage and the like – was in the family's visual vocabulary; but so was the singularly insular modernism of Edward Bawden and his circle, splicing those post-Cubist spaces with evocations of quirky, folksy Englishness.
At the outset of his career, Gentleman leaned the latter way, towards nostalgia. The imperishable rural vignettes of Thomas Bewick prompted a highly personal love affair with wood engraving which was nurtured by John Nash when he entered the Royal College of Art in 1950; but, Gentleman recalls, "nobody else was doing it. My fellow students all thought of it as a hangover from the 30s" – the heyday, that is, of another of his artistic heroes, Eric Ravilious."

You can read the full text of the article here.
David Gentleman's paintings are on show at Fine Arts Society, London, until 24 April 2010.
There is also a new edition of George Ewart Evans's Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay, which was originally published in 1956 (272pp, Full Circle Editions). For more information click here.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Website Updates

There have been a number of recent updates to the main Bewick Society Website.
The front page news story has changed.
The Library Checklist has been revised.
The Diary is now up to date.
Our Newsletter can be downloaded as a PDF.
Recent copies of the Cherryburn Times are now available online. The digital archive of the Cherryburn Times now covers 1999 - present.
Click here to visit the site.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Exhibition in Newcastle

Image: Evan Rees, wood engraved bookplate by Andy English.

Twentieth century prints and contemporary wood engraving are on show currently at Northern Print.
See their website for details.

"With Pleasure presents works from two private collections including original prints by many of the greatest printmaking names of the last century including: Eric Ravilious, Eric Gill, David Jones, Lynton Lamb, Graham Sutherland, Eileen Agar, John Nash, Elizabeth Frink, Valerie Thornton, Anthony Gross, John Piper, David Hockney, Terry Frost as well as a newly published work by Joe Tilson."
Accompanying the show is a selection of recent bookplates by members of the Society of Wood Engravers.

...Chris Daunt has brought together a collection of contemporary bookplates by seven members of the Society of Wood Engravers; Simon Brett, Chris Daunt, Andy English, John Lawrence, Hilary Paynter and Richard Shirley Smith. The bookplates were made to commission for private individuals as a way of marking the books in their collections and are part of a long tradition where the plates would often bear the words, ‘Ex Libris’."

These exhibitions will be on show until 17 April.
Northern Print’s gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday from 12 to 4.
Northern Print, Stepney Bank, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 2NP. Free entry

Saturday, 27 March 2010

From the Newsletter

Members of the society will soon recieve a paper copy of the Spring Newsletter. Among the articles is this report on the recent conference Illustrating Fables – Bewick and Beyond
Friday 26 February 2010 – A Review by Peter Osborne

"This was an enjoyable day with a good attendance, well provided with tea, coffee and sandwiches as well as no less than six talks and a panel discussion. It was jointly chaired by David Gardner-Medwin for the Society and Matthew Grenby for the University. Brian Alderson’s broad introduction was followed by Peter Quinn’s entertaining and informative talk on Bewick’s early fables work. Graham Williams and Peter Osborne spoke about his Aesop, Professor Andrea Immel extolled the liveliness of fable texts and John Lord gave an interesting talk about his own fable illustrations.
The day significantly raised the profile of Bewick’s Fables, showing, for his admirers, his continued development as an expressive artist, and, for others, something of his thought and intensity as an artist. He emerged as a watershed in fables illustration, looking back in his use of several old motifs, but looking forward in his early realism, the entanglement of himself in his work, his sharp juxtaposition of fables with socio-political concerns, and his shift towards expressive style. His strong editorial control of Aesop was clearly shown.

After this event Bewick’s reputation stands higher, and especially his work on fables."

Forthcoming Bewick Society events include a lecture, an enthusiasms afternoon, a walk and birthday celebrations. All details are online here.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Bewick in Tennessee

Wood engravings by Thomas Bewick have been on show at the Todd Art Gallery of the Middle Tennessee State University.

You can read an interview with the curator Christie Nuell here.
The article "
Not just for the faint of ‘art’ Warhol and others leave impression in Todd Art Gallery" by Quinton Parker highlights Bewick's work.

"The only collector Nuell contacted outside of the Middle Tennessee region was Bill Hesterberg, who lives in Chicago. Hesterberg provided several original wood engravings by famed wood engraver and ornithologist Thomas Bewick.
“Bill owns a small press in his basement,” Nuell says. “He’s an avid Thomas Bewick collector, and it was incredibly gracious of him to send us these engravings.”
In addition to the Bewick engravings and the Rembrandt and Warhol prints, gallery-goers can also view remarkable works by famed artists such as Manet and Renoir. "
The exhibition ended March 4th.
Opening times and directions to the gallery in Murfreesboro, Tennessee can be found on its website, click here.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Thomas Bewick: The Blocks Revisited & Rediscovered

The Blocks Revisited & Rediscovered
documents the fascinating story of Thomas Bewick's personal blocks and their historic journey to Chicago in 1942. Many of these blocks found new homes quickly in the Midwest and across America, while others became well-travelled eventually making their way back to England. The whereabouts of these blocks and their movements over the years have raised questions and a desire to document them for their safe keeping. It is hoped this five year investigation will begin to provide answers, as over 700 of the 1,350 blocks that came to Chicago are documented here in 35 collections.
A numbered edition of ninety copies was bound by Campbell-Logan Bindery, Minneapolis, in a dark green cloth with contrasting green end papers. The spine was gold stamped and the front cover features an inset of a vignette printed from one of the Bewick's blocks at the press.
This information comes from the Oak Knoll Press website. Click here for more details and the opportunity to purchase the book.

Friday, 5 February 2010

A Bewick Bestiary

A Bewick Bestiary by James Kirkup (1918-2009) has been re-printed by Red Squirrel Press.

"James Kirkup (1918 - 2009) was a prolific poet and translator. His work includes several dozen poetry collections, six volumes of autobiography and over a hundred monographs of original work and translations. He was a skilled writer of haiku and tanka. Red Squirrel are delighted to bring his Bewick Bestiary back into print.

Originally published in 1971 by the Mid Northumberland Arts Group, Ashington, the book brings together original poems by James Kirkup and animal woodcuts by Thomas Bewick."

You can read two poems and order a copy of the book from the publisher's website here.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Illustrating Fables: Bewick and Beyond.

Friday 26 February 2010


A joint conference with the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle University

A day-long conference to explore the illustration of fables, with particular focus on the work of Thomas Bewick.
The speakers will include Brian Alderson (Visiting Fellow, Newcastle University), Andrea Immel (Princeton University), John Vernon Lord (Illustrator and Lecturer), Peter Osborne (Bewick Society), Peter Quinn (Bewick Society) and Graham Williams (sculptor and engraver).

Venue: The Clore Learning Suite, Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4PT.
Date and time: Friday 26 February 10am - 5pm
Cost: The conference fee will be £10 inclusive of lunch and refreshments.
Contact: For more information email Dr. Matthew Grenby
or contact him at the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU. Phone no. 0191 222 6182.

Payments are to be made through the University of Newcastle. There will also be on-line booking here.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Forthcoming Attractions

Programme of Events for Spring 2010

Friday 26 February 2010


A joint conference with the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics at Newcastle University

A day-long conference to explore the illustration of fables, with particular focus on the work of Thomas Bewick.
The speakers will include Brian Alderson (Visiting Fellow, Newcastle University), Andrea Immel (Princeton University), John Vernon Lord (Illustrator and Lecturer), Peter Osborne (Bewick Society) and Peter Quinn (Bewick Society).

Venue: The Clore Learning Suite, Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4PT.
Date and time: Friday 26 February 10am - 5pm
Cost: The conference fee will be £10 inclusive of lunch and refreshments.
Contact: For more information email Dr. Matthew Grenby
or contact him at the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU. Phone no. 0191 222 6182.

Payments are to be made through the University of Newcastle. There will also be on-line booking here.

Thursday 1 April 2010


Local art historian, Anne French, will introduce us to the world of the affluent northern families who set off on their grand tour adventures. Notably, Sir Henry Liddell of Ravensworth Castle and Captain Matthew Consett whose tour through Sweden and Lapland caused a great stir in Gateshead when they eventually returned with their ‘art’ treasures. Consett’s subsequent travelogue A Tour through Sweden [etc] (1789) was illustrated with copperplate engravings by Bewick.
Copies of Anne’s latest book Art Treasures in the North: Northern Families on the Grand Tour will be available for sale on the evening.

Venue: The Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle, 23, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne.
Date and time: Thursday 1 April 2010 at 6pm
Contact: June Holmes: The Bewick Society, c/o The Natural History Society of Northumbria, The Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4PT. Tel no. 0191 232 6386 or e-mail (FAO June Holmes).

Saturday 24 April 2010


Bewick Enthusiasms will be an afternoon of brief talks by speakers with enthusiasms for particular aspects of Bewick’s life and work or that of his associates. This event has proved very popular in the past so please do come along. Let us know if you would like to contribute a five minute lecture on something you find fascinating about Bewick.

Venue: The Natural History Society of Northumbria Council Room, Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4PT.
Date and time: Saturday 24 April at 2pm
Contact: June Holmes as above.

Other Events for your Diary in 2010 include

16 January 2010 Printmaking Workshop with Caroline Coode and Vhairi Cardinal
Venue: Print Room, Department of Fine Art, University of Newcastle.
Date and Time: Saturday 16 January 10am – 4pm
Cost: £12. For further details and to book, contact Vhairi Cardinal on 0191 2970008 or email