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Osborne Samuel gallery opens major exhibition of linocuts by 20th-century artist Sybil Andrews
Sybil Andrews, Racing, 1934. Linocut, 26 x 34.3 cm. Images Courtesy of Osborne Samuel.

LONDON.- Osborne Samuel gallery is presenting a major exhibition of linocuts by 20th-century British-Canadian artist Sybil Andrews (1898 - 1992). The exhibition aims to bring together all of Andrews' most famous colour linocuts, charting her artistic career from 1929 onwards and showcasing some of the most memorable images in British printmaking.

The exhibition also coincides with the launch of a new book titled Sybil Andrews Linocuts: A Complete Catalogue, which provides a comprehensive overview of Andrews’ life as a key figure in British art history. It is compiled and written by Hana Leaper, with a foreword by Gordon Samuel, and co-published by Lund Humphries Publishing, London and Osborne Samuel gallery.

Sybil Andrews was a prolific printmaker who produced around 90 linocuts between 1926 and her death in 1992. Originally from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, she apprenticed as a welder and subsequently worked at an airplane factory during World War I, where she helped in the development of the first all- metal aeroplane for the Bristol Welding Company. In 1922 she moved to London with the artist Cyril Power (1872-1951) and enrolled at the prestigious Heatherley School of FineArt. To pay her way, in 1925 she joined the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in Pimlico as the school secretary. There she attended Claude Flight’s classes in linocutting. In the 1920s and 30s she was part of a small group of artists, including Cyril Power, who produced some of the most dynamic, vibrant and colourful ‘modernist’ prints in printmaking history.

Andrews and Power shared a studio in Brook Green in Hammersmith and worked alongside each other on joint projects for many years until the outbreak of World War II. These included the commissions for poster designs for London Transport in 1933, using the alias ‘Andrew-Power’.

Andrews mostly depicted the labours of man, from her religious themes of Christ pulling the cross, to five labourers as depicted in The Giant Cable / The New Cable (1931). In this work the men are silhouetted and taut with energy, their faces featureless, futuristic and the very essence of modernity.

The Suffolk landscape and agricultural life inspired Andrews throughout her career, as shown in her iconic depiction of agricultural workers, Mowers (1937).

Sporting subjects were also an essential part of her work. In Racing (1934), one feels the speed and energy of the horses as they enter Tattenham Corner at the Epsom Derby. One can also imagine the roar of the dirt track racers’ motorbikes in Speedway (1934).

Andrews left Britain in 1947 with her husband and emigrated to remote Campbell River on Vancouver Island in Canada, where she painted and taught linocutting. She continued to produce some of the 20th-century’s most iconic British- Canadian prints.

Today, international interest in Andrews’ linocuts continues to flourish following the acclaimed 2008-09 American exhibition The Rhythms of Modern Life: British Prints 1914-1939, which toured from the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and The Wolfsonian, Miami. Andrews’ linocuts of the 1930s are especially sought after by major collectors in the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The artist’s prints appear in major museum collections including the British Museum, the National Gallery of Australia and Glenbow Museum, Calgary, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand.

This exhibition is a selling show, supplemented by additional works from private collections, and includes prints from all periods of Andrews’ career. A selection of the exhibition will feature on Osborne Samuel’s stand at the IFPDA New York Print Fair, 4-8 November, 2015.

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