Pressing On: a Decade of New Linocuts

Pressing On
Robert Gillmor
Publisher:  Mascot Media, Sutton
2018
Hardback
Page Count:  168
ISBN Number:  9781999845711
£
25.00

This book by Robert Gillmor covers his recent work from commissioned prints to original works. With a lot of the prints being inspired by Norfolk, he re-emphasises his love for the county and sets out to give some background to each image’s root and creative process.

The range of non-commissioned works that start the book highlights his preference for depicting species with bold colouration, and the descriptions that accompany many of these starkly beautiful images really give a fascinating insight into how each one was formed. I enjoyed his inclusion of some original pencil sketches too that help illustrate the processes he went through before setting out to carve the linocuts. He is quite open about this process, as shown when chatting through the small “cover ups” that were needed in his set of Royal Mail stamps as the minimal features in his prints were required to be even simpler!

His linocuts for the New Naturalist book series are possibly the first place that you might encounter his work. The strong stripes of his Badger work really well and I can see how he enjoyed exploiting these features when designing that cover. These really make you want to delve into each book, to understand more about these interesting creatures and environments. Each one is well researched, and inspiring enough that even what many might think as quite bland subjects such as slugs and snails invite you to turn the first page. His popularity has made other authors and organisations ask for his work to grace their covers and again the easy but striking style of linocuts work well to enhance the appeal of these editions.

He then moves on to a mixture of different formats for his works from the famous Bird Fair posters and Ibis journal covers to images that graced a range of Christmas cards, tea towels and organisational logos (he had a hand in the design of the RSPB’s Avocet). Many of these I recognised and it was interesting reading how they also came together but as much as I enjoyed flipping through the many images he’s produced, I was always intrigued by how he put these together and what processes he went through. In particular the little anecdotes about changing the colour of the base paper or the order in which colours are printed on top of each other made me reach for the internet to find out more about linocuts! Handily though he’d thought about this and as I reached the end of the book I found that he’d included a section about how he creates his linocuts - using the example of a Pheasant to show multi-block printing. He did mentioned the issues of modern publishing techniques, but even in the world of computing and computer art it is nice that his works are still commissioned even if they are slightly manipulated (with his approval!) later on if he can’t adjust them in time.

Being new to his books but an admirer of his work for many years, I particularly enjoyed reading more about how these prints came to life and particularly the techniques. The research and thought that goes into each one of his prints really brings them to life and makes this a most inviting and interesting book to read. Proving how popular it is, several people picked it up whilst I had it on my office desk - tempted in by the just the fantastic Oystercatchers on the cover alone.
Katharine M. Bowgen